I’m a selfish mother.
That’s what I’ve been told.
At the end of the day, I make sure to squeeze in time to take care of myself because my needs are equally as important as my husband’s and child’s needs.
That’s the comment that started a mommy war on my Facebook page. It went something like this:
“You’re a terrible mother because you don’t focus your entire life on your child and husband.”
“Great, you’re a mom who finds time for herself. Well, I choose to take care of my kids first.”
“You should be ashamed you don’t put your needs last. You must be selfish.”
Yes, I am selfish.
I am a working mother and wife. I work 50-plus hours a week at my full-time job, run a fitness business, help my husband run and promote his ever-growing masonry and construction company, and care for a toddler (and soon-to-arrive newborn), a sassy German shepherd, a four-bedroom house and multiple gardens on my property.
I am busy. I have a lot to tend to each day that has nothing to do with myself or my needs. And I’m thankful to have all these blessings that require my time.
So when I’m told I’m selfish for finding 30 minutes each day to write, reflect, work out or paint my stupid fingernails, I must fervently disagree.
My teenage self would rightfully flip those women off, a long middle finger blazing, and just walk away. But after becoming a mother, I’ve learned that’s not exactly role model behavior, so I just silently tell those mothers to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.
It’s 30 minutes of alone time. That’s hardly 1 percent of my entire day. It’s 30 minutes of peace and quiet or 30 minutes of a sweat session to burn off calories and release tension.
This isn’t “putting myself first.” This isn’t being selfish.
This is how I take care of myself as a busy person. This is how I maintain my sanity and mentally process what has happened throughout my day—my coworkers’ comments, my boss’s requests, a friend’s recent meltdown, my husband’s business anxiety, my toddler’s tantrum over not getting the green sippy cup and getting the blue one instead.
This selfish time is taken to “recharge” my batteries that are going to be in full use tomorrow and nearly depleted by the end of the day.
I’ve learned that I need this time to myself. When I didn’t take any time, I was often more stressed, anxious, irritable and the worst: judgmental of others.
And quite frankly, my needs still come last, but I do make sure to take care of myself for a few minutes each day. I need it, and I deserve it.
All mothers do. All people do.
I couldn’t understand why so many women with similar life stressors seemed to be more pleasant, content and often times, healthier than I was. Why was I so miserable with daily life when I live what appears to be the American dream? I had all that I needed and more, and still I went to bed each night unsatisfied and unhappy.
I didn’t allow myself to have any solitude. I didn’t make any “me” time that we all desperately need.
I ran from job to job, did chore after chore, wiped dirty face after dirty face, pulled weed after weed until I had no energy or enthusiasm left to do anything more than collapse in bed all while knowing I had to do it all over again tomorrow.
Now, I let a load of laundry or some dishes go unwashed for the evening. Sometimes, I just plan for leftovers instead of cooking so that I can get my precious 30 minutes to myself. It’s really OK; I’ll do it later and there’s nothing wrong with eating leftovers.
And oh, let me tell you, it’s so worth it!
Since I started allowing myself some personal time, I’ve lost 25 pounds and four pants sizes, cleared up my adult acne, became a better household planner, started working more efficiently at my job (and got a nice big pay raise), started to honestly enjoy playtime with my son and recreation with my family, developed new friendships, and my favorite, reconnected with my husband.
The lack of “me” time really took a toll on my attitude, self-confidence and self-worth.
But now, I’m a happier, healthier and, all around, a better wife, mother, employee and friend—all because I give myself a little selfish time for me. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but it certainly is for me.
So, go take a bubble bath and read a good book. Go for an evening jog in the crisp fall air. Go paint your toenails and give yourself a facial. Go eat a freaking chocolate bar and enjoy a glass of wine on your porch as the sun sets.
I won’t judge you for it. You deserve it, too.