Squish the Mom Guilt

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in self reflection, trying to figure out how to do it all.  Most of these inspired thoughts come between 1 and 4 AM, as I try to get my non-sleeping 3 year old back to bed.  You know, when you’re completely rational and not at all stressed.
I wonder why out of my 3 kids, only 1 has slept through the night before the age of 4. 
I wonder why they all have to be so different that I feel like I have to learn how to parent all over again each time I deal with a different child.
I wonder how to fit in more work.  More housecleaning.  More decluttering.  More fitness.  More quality time.  All of those things that bombard us every day.  More.
And as I’ve been reflecting on my last 10 years as a wife, and 8 years as a mother, I think I may have tried it all.

And you know what’s worked the best?  The one thing that has made my marriage better and my parenting more connected and relaxed?
It’s something that is so very easy to push aside in the quest for the ever elusive “enough.”
Taking care of me.
With the struggles of marriage, and parenting 3 incredibly diverse personalities, it seems counter-intuitive to think about me.
I realized the other night (early morning), that the times I’ve been a great spouse and parent all have one thing in common.  That I stop believing I have to sacrifice me to be better for them.
That when I was making the effort to get up early in the morning to exercise, I was benefitting everyone, not just myself.
I had more energy and time to get the grunt work of life done. 
I’m healthier and less like to fall sick to annoying little bugs that make their rounds.
I got to choose when I was waking up rather than always feeling annoyed to be woken up.
I had more day to day stuff done earlier, so I had more quality time to spend with my kids.  They in turn had their tanks filled, and were happier and more secure in general.
And my mental health and fitness level were both improving to the point that I was more comfortable in my own skin, which, as every wife can attest to, makes them feel more confident in pursuing their husbands.
I know I’m not the first one to point this out fellow parents, and I’m likely to fall to old habits at some times too. 
It is so easy to forget to take care of ourselves.  And it’s so easy to overlook the benefits to everyone around us when we do take care of ourselves.
Please join me in remembering how happy we are, and in turn how we can pour into those around us, when we actually take the time to take time.
And I promise you, I know that getting up earlier in the morning is detestable to many of us.  That those extra minutes of sleep seem like the very thing you need the most.  And at some stages, you really do.  But maybe you can take a couple weeks to try out doing something for yourself.  Even something that seems really small, but important.

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