As moms with kids in the house, we spend a lot of our time focused on those kids. When they are newborns and toddlers, this is an absolute requirement in order to keep them fed, warm, clean and safe. As they begin to grow older, those requirements begin to shift but we still spend an enormous amount of our own time on our kids. As they transition out of your house into college, the time we have for ourselves begins to change. And often, with this shift to more time for ourselves comes guilt over actually taking that time to do something for yourself.
I know I’ve felt this guilt. In the first 6 months after my son moved out for school, I slept without an alarm clock as much as possible. I was so exhausted from all of the constant driving that I did with him on top of my other normal activities that I simply needed the break from getting us up and out of the house, early in the morning every day & then running at full speed until bedtime.
I didn’t feel so guilty then. I felt like it was absolutely necessary to get extra rest and to recover my health.
Now, it’s changed a bit. I feel that guilt that I’m arranging my schedule around my own likes and dislikes. Getting up before 6 am was never something that I enjoyed. So, I sleep in until 7 or 7:30 most mornings. I’m a night owl, so this is much more normal for me and I find that I feel much better with this type of schedule. For me, this slightly different sleep pattern from the past is a form of self-care.
However, I still feel that guilt over this schedule. I spent so much time arranging things around my kids and husband that it doesn’t feel quite right to give myself that gift as well. I’ve spent 20 years doing schedules a different way. I’ve trained myself to take care of others before I take care of myself. It just feels wrong to do it any other way.
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you feel that guilt over giving yourself the time that you used to give to your kids?
It feels a bit weird to have this guilt. I mean I deserve to take care of myself. I served my kids and my family for so long. It’s okay to now spend this time on me.
What it comes down to is that old habits are hard to break sometimes. I spent so long taking care of others and ignoring my own needs that it now feels wrong to take care of me.
So, how do we take care of ourselves without feeling guilty?
For me, the answer is to connect to my own body again. Usually this guilt is at its worst when I’ve been ignoring myself and thus, ignoring the messages that my body is sending to me. Instead of being more willing to take care of myself, I conversely get stubborn and refuse to do what I need to do. It’s times like this that I really need to stop and connect to myself most.
Exactly how do you connect to your body you might ask?
Well, for some of us, it’s just a matter of moving around for a few minutes and noticing how it feels to do that. For others, it might take a massage or a yoga therapist to begin to notice your body again. You could also go for a walk, run or hike and notice how that feels in your body.
No matter how you do it, the key is to reconnect to your body. When you do this, you’ll begin to notice what you need and want. You’ll notice if you’re tired and really need a day of rest. You’ll notice if you’ve been eating too many sweets and really need a few vegetables with the next meal. The messages are different for everyone but they are there for you to hear.
Your body is waiting to send you these messages. You simply need to listen.
So, next time you’re feeling guilty about taking care of yourself, ask your own body what it needs. You’ll be surprised how often it says you need to rest, move, eat or sleep. All of those things can be forms of self-care. The key is to check in & give yourself what you really need. When you do this, the guilt won’t be nearly as bad because you’ll realize that you need this in order to be a better version of you.
It’s okay to take care of yourself!
If you need help understanding the messages that your body is sending to you, set up a private session with me. Your body is ready to talk. Are you ready to listen?