Stop Telling Moms What To Do With Their Time

by Rita Templeton
telling moms what to do

Each new day dawns with a grand plan to accomplish my entire to-do list, but by nightfall, I’m exhausted and mulling over everything I didn’t get done. No matter how noble my intentions or how motivated I am, there are just never enough hours in the day to complete a list of stuff that seems to grow by the minute.

Yet everywhere I look (mostly while I’m sitting there browsing the internet — oh, the irony!), there’s some sort of “expert” crowing that if I’ve got time to check Facebook/eat a snack/take a prolonged dump, then I’ve got time to hit the gym/meditate/make my life better in some way. “No excuses” is their collective mantra, as they boast about having six-pack abs despite birthing five children, completing their college degree while simultaneously working 80-hour weeks and volunteering, running a successful side business from home, or wearing makeup and real pants 365 days a year. If they can do it, why shouldn’t everybody be able to? After all — as they love to remind us — we share the same 24 hours as Beyoncé!

Yes. Sure. Theoretically, I could fill up every single minute of every single day being productive, and I’d probably get a lot more done. But as nice as that sounds, where does “doing whatever the hell I want” fit into this equation? Where do a few moments of relaxation fall on the efficiency spectrum?

Maybe technically I do have time. But in order to get something done, time is not the sole requirement. It’s like a recipe — just having flour and sugar doesn’t mean you’re equipped to make a cake. There are other crucial components, like, I don’t know, giving a shit. You have to want to do whatever it is you’re filling your time with. You have to get some sort of enjoyment out of it. And if I’ve spent the majority of my day doing things I have to do, you bet your sweet ass that I’m going to “waste” a few critical moments doing something that pleases me rather than something I “should” be doing, even if that something is absolutely nothing at all.

There’s a reason people make excuses for not doing some of these things: They’re hard. Amazing results require repeated sustained effort, and sometimes we’re so worn out from our individual life circumstances that we simply don’t have the effort to put forth. It’s not about hours in the day, not really. It’s that we do enough hard stuff already, and we’re not sure if we could do one more difficult thing — and to try and fail would be potentially more damaging to our psyches than not trying at all.

Sometimes the motivation of others, no matter how well-intentioned, isn’t motivational at all. It only causes me to feel inadequate, like I’m failing to utilize my resources wisely, and in turn, failing in general. That isn’t helpful. My mental health and emotional well-being are not only important to me, but also to the family who has to live with me, the people I take care of. And if protecting those things means not spending hours at the gym or devoting every evening to a home business, well, so be it. “Mom guilt” is bad enough without adding another voice to the mix telling me that I would have plenty of time to do whatever if only I weren’t so apathetic and lazy.

Even if I did do those things, I guarantee my mind would come up with something else to edge out any feelings of accomplishment: That time you used to work out could have been spent reading to the kids, or I can’t believe you’re wasting an hour on this when you should be mopping that disgusting, neglected kitchen floor. If I’m going to feel guilty anyway, whether I’m scrolling through Facebook or perfecting my physique, guess which one I’d rather do?

I’m not saying I would never devote my time to achieving an extraordinary result in one area of my life or another. I’m just saying that it would have to be something personal — something that mattered to me. Not something that somebody tells me I should make time for just because they did.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.