Diaper changes, meal prep, bedtime routines and doctor appointments. It becomes a part of your regular life when you become a parent. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing these things. I signed up for this gig after all! However, I do get tired. So tired! Parenting is a joy, but it is also completely exhausting. Suddenly you aren’t the only person you have to look after and be responsible for. It’s a mind-blowing experience to go from childless to bringing home a baby, and when it happened to me it truly rocked my world. It has been the best thing I have ever done, but it has also put into perspective how important it is to keep my sense of self underneath all of the everyday tasks that become routine.
So when things get overwhelming and I find myself trying the remember the last time I spent an evening somewhere other than home (where I am in bed by nine o’clock), that’s when I know I need to switch things up and get back some time for me. Some might find this selfish, but I value myself and I love myself. I am not willing to compromise my well-being if it means I won’t be as good of a mother. Taking time away from my daughter refreshes me and makes me realize how lucky I am. When I can’t wait to get back to her after a weekend away, it reminds me of why I love spending time with her so much and why being a mom totally rocks even though it’s the hardest job ever.
I’ve talked to countless women who say they feel like they can’t or shouldn’t be away from their littles for a night. Reasons range from missing them too much to feeling guilty about not being there for the bedtime routine. I talk to mothers who have never spent a night away from their toddlers or have only done so once or twice. As someone who has done this a handful of times each year since my daughter was born, I occasionally wonder if there is something wrong with me or my maternal gene because I don’t feel guilty dropping my daughter off at grandma and grandpa’s house for the weekend.
We all need a recharge and there is no shame in that. I’m not saying every mother should be like me. But I do think moms should banish the guilt they feel at the thought of leaving for a night or even a few hours. There are a few reasons that make this the right option for my family:
I do this for ME.
Getting some time with friends or my husband resets me. It reminds me that I am more than a mom. I am a person who has likes, hobbies, and interests that reside outside of playtime with my daughter. I love spending time with my child, but I am still a woman who has goals and desires. This is okay! I am allowed to do things for me. I challenge you to give yourself permission to explore an interest or hobby that you want for only yourself. It is such a good feeling to be with yourself in those moments.
I do this for HER.
I want her to grow up and be a woman who prioritizes herself. Self-care is so important. Everything I said about doing things for just me? I want my daughter to see that and to value herself. I want her to be empowered enough to know that she does not have to be categorized under only one label. We are all made up of pieces of a pie. Is motherhood a huge piece of my pie? Yes, of course. But are there other slivers that are important to me, too? Yes! I hope my daughter sees this and is inspired to always do things for herself in order to be a well-rounded human. There’s nothing I could want more for her.
I do this for MY PARENTS
I leave my daughter so she can spend time and build relationships with other important people in her life. My child loves her grandparents and it makes me happy when she gets alone time with them. I know it makes her happy, too. I have no problem asking them to come and watch her for a few hours or ask them to watch her overnight. Whenever I ask them to do this, they are filled with absolute joy. It is just as important for them as it is for my daughter, and I am glad to give them this alone time that will be the foundation for their own unique relationships. It also helps my daughter to know that there are others who can comfort her in times of need. She learns more coping skills by being around others who do things a little differently than her dad or I do.
As you can see, the benefits for my family far outweigh the negatives of a weekend away from our daughter once in awhile. I understand that every family dynamic is different and that this might not work for everybody, but I encourage you to take that night off if you’ve been thinking about it! Have you put your needs first recently?