Moms, let face it. How much does the guilt of not getting things done linger in your mind? Almost all of my mommy friends feel guilty for not being able to get simple chores done, let alone do more. Many of them move from one task to another and feel incredibly shameful just to sit down.
I will not lie. I have been ridden with this guilt too.
I have been exponentially researching self-care and meditation/mindfulness and how to easily incorporate these into Mom’s busy lifestyle.
On the other hand, I have also been spending a lot more time with my demanding 2.5-year-old son. I was working full-time since he was six months old, so with the recent change in my job life, I am just keeping him to myself for some time and enjoying before he goes to preschool.
All this time, though, the thoughts of not getting laundry done or not being able to cook daily and the house being messier than it really should be, are bothering me a lot more than usual.
Is Putting A Checkmark To Your To-Do List That Important?
Earlier this week I picked up a book on self-care called The Self Care Solution by Julie Burton. Julie Burton is a mother of four children ( a couple of those are past their teenage years), a yoga teacher and a journalist. She writes about self-care on her blog.
There is one small paragraph in this book that she has quoted from Anna Quindlen that I am copy-pasting here which has been very helpful for me to get over my guilt.
Anna says, “ The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life.”
This sentence speaks volumes. How eager I usually am just to get chores out of the way that I sometimes miss the fun part of being around with the kids and enjoying them. Most mornings when I see their cute little faces waking up from a good night’s sleep, all I think of is my plan to get them ready and out of the door. “Have breakfast, now let’s have a bath. Here are your clothes, your tiffin. Please tie your shoes. Let’s hurry.”
Getting Laundry Out Of The Way To Make Room For More Fun Is Not The Answer
We want to make room for fun. We all want to be happy. But our mental dialogue tells us differently. “Only if this laundry was done, I could spend some more time doing what I love. Only if this dishwasher is empty, I can play with you. This is time for cooking; I actually cannot play superheroes right now.”
Guess what? The laundry cycle never gets done forever. We always have to cook. We always have to get our children ready. Our mind tricks us into thinking that there is a full-stop somewhere.
We have to learn the tricks of our mind and get over them. The mind thinks that to be happy we have to be clear of our mental clutter. We have to put a check mark on our to-do list. But happiness lies in the process of being present in the task of whatever that we choose to do. It is not in the result.
Just like Anna wishes she had treasured the doing more, we have to start working on slowing things down and savoring these moments more.
But you don’t have to take my or Anna’s word for it.
Find a time when you are usually in this dark “mental shit” status. For me, it is my morning routine when I want just to get everyone out of the house. For you, it could be your dinner time or bed time routine.
- Look at your beautiful children’s faces when they wake up.
- Snap your fingers when you think about the clock and the running time.
- Now look at them again and feel the love.
- Admire their fresh energy. Listen to them talk about their silly dreams.
- Snap your fingers again when you start thinking you have no time for this.
- Go live at the moment again when they are eating their breakfast that you so thoughtfully made (or when they are throwing tantrums really)
- Remember that this time will pass soon. All that will be left is memories. Do you want a whole bunch of hurry in your memories? Think about it.
Snap your fingers every time you feel hurried and slow the time down mindfully. When you have tried and tested it out, please come back to this post and comment about your learnings.
- Were you feeling less guilty?
- Did you feel your happiness levels rise than usual?
- How did the family react to the new “you”?
- Which another routine could you apply this to?
I am eager to hear more about your experiments in the comments below this post.
When I shared this post with Julie, she wanted to tell all moms of younger children about something she feels strongly about. Here it goes:
“ Now that two of my kids are in college, and one is a teen, and one is a tween, I find myself feeling very nostalgic about their early years. I was often so stressed, overwhelmed, and worried about everything that I was doing “wrong” that I missed out on some of the magic and the joy of their childhood years. I sometimes yearn to go back there and play with them more, cuddle with them a little longer and soak up the smell of them and the feel of their skin next to mine. While kids become more self-sufficient and independent, which is what most mothers of young children yearn for, motherhood gets easier in some ways but harder in others, as the “small kids, small problems, big kids, big problems” saying starts to make more sense. I miss my big kids. I miss the way my now 19-year-old son’s eyes would light up when he saw me walk in a room and the way he always wanted to hold my hand. Now, he is across the country, and I can barely keep him on the phone for five minutes a few times a week. I miss the six of us together around the dinner table even though most nights one kid, usually the youngest would run off crying.
I would tell parents of young kids that it is okay to be overwhelmed because taking care of young children is overwhelming at times. But the two key components to getting through these years without spending every day trying to hurry things along and secretly wishing your young kids would just grow up already are the following:
1) Every day, try to acknowledge at least a few moments of joy you experience in spending time with your children.
2) Every day, be intentional about doing something for at least 15 minutes just for yourself (taking a bath, talking to a friend on the phone, taking a walk around the block, or reading a book).
These two things will help you feel a little more grounded, a little less overwhelmed and most importantly a little more joyful as a mother and as a woman.”