Working on Me

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Throughout my time of being a mom, I have this guilt that likes to weigh me down. I think I’ve had it my whole life but it has shown up stronger than ever as a mom. I’ve always felt sorry or upset with myself for letting someone down. Having someone be disappointed or not like me has always made me feel low. I can’t quite tell exactly at what age it happened but definitely by the time my parents divorced it was very present.

When I became a mom, I wanted to do everything I could to be the best version of myself. And as normal life goes, you’re going to have moments that you’re not proud of. But aside from just not being my best self I also felt the constant guilt for not working. Seeing my husband tired and working several days in a row or picking up overtime to help make ends meet always made me feel like I was responsible. This has been a feeling of constant guilt and for once I finally think I’ve figured out how to tackle my feelings.

In an effort to help others overcome this I wanted to share my perspective. Why am I staying home? What are my other options? In my scenario, yes, I can get a job, and I had a very high paying job. I could do that, I am qualified. But what would I lose? Well, the main reason I am home is because I want to raise my children. Because deep in my heart it’s what I feel I am meant to do. I have a very strong attachment with them and feel it’s what means the most to me in my life.

My husband and I both agreed that it was best for me to stay home to take care of our children, we didn’t want someone else to do it. I did work for a short time when my first was born and I felt miserable. I was missing out on my baby and it tore me apart. Then I realized, this guilt won’t leave me. I’m guilty if I stay and I’m guilty if I go. What do I think is the best choice for my situation? Yes, I’d like to help make income, but can my husband handle it for the few more years till they are in full time school? Does my husband mind or want to do this?

The answer is yes, he has told me he wants to do this and he is ok to handle it. The other amazing thing about my husband is that when they are in full time school, he wants me to work part time or shorter hours so I still can help with homework and feel like I’m still supporting them and not full of work. Because that’s what I want and we feel will be the best for our children. How amazing of a partner is that! So, as I sit here with guilt pushing my buttons, I realized this needs to stop. I don’t need to feel guilty; I need to feel happy. I need to be grateful for my situation and not let guilt ruin it. I need to find my happiness and know I’m in the right place before I miss out on what I dreamed of.

When I’m happy I can do so many things and I know it will help my family grow. My other job can be finding ways to save money or cook to manage the waste, but my most important job is that I need to be happy for myself and for my family. We chose this route for a reason, so stop rethinking if this is the right way, because it might get bumpy, but we are in it for the long haul. I need to accept the challenges that come with having a baby. I won’t get everything done. But I can prioritize what needs to get done.

The most important for me is making my children happy and healthy. Because no one can love my children like I do. So today is the day I’m going to stop trying to find ways to make money or feel sad for making my husband work. Today is the day I’m going to make him proud that he is working hard because he can see my happiness. Life is too short for regrets. I want to make this time worth it. For all of us. And I need to be better to myself.

So how do I start?

First, it’s daily affirmations, they can be simple but every morning I need to say what I’m thankful for and what I love:

I love my children

I will play and laugh with my children today

Staying home is more than a job

I am more than just a mom

I will do what I can today and that’s enough

It’s ok to ask for help

I’m allowed to take a shower and look nice

My children will remember how I make them feel not how clean the house is

My home is a safe place

I’m allowed to be happy

I’m a good mom

It’s ok if I don’t get anything done

It’s ok if I order food and don’t cook

Second, is finding ways for self-care. Going for a daily walk, having a quick YouTube workout each day and I definitely need some good dance music. All of these can be done! And the best thing is you can switch them up. For the daily walk, make it fun for your kids by playing I spy, or collect random things and use for an art project that day. My kids love doing workouts with me so getting them involved is fun, and we all love to dance. Especially when things seem chaotic and you’re about to lose it, stop and take a breath then play a song to dance yourself out of the funk.

The third thing is making a list that week – what are the things to do each day. What is the schedule? Feeling organized and prepared helps calm your anxiety because you know what to look out for. And carving out time throughout the week helps to make the chores have an end. But baby steps, also write in pencil because as you know with everything, nothing is in stone.

The fourth is to breathe – take a moment during the day to take a breath and chill. Another big anxiety help that is so hard but I swear worked, was getting rid of social media. I miss it for the kid activities/events going on, but I’m so much happier not going online so much. Instead, I allow certain times of the day to look things up. That way I’m in the moment and not on my phone. I think that’s so important to put the phone away. Even if just an hour to start, put it away and show your family you’re fully there. That’s a big challenge for me, because being a stay-at-home mom may make you feel far from the world. You may feel like you need it to know what’s going on and feel like you’re not alone. But I’m not alone, and I’ve got my kids that need my attention. So put it away, trust me you’ll feel better.

The last thing that has recently helped me, modify what used to work and give yourself grace. For example, I have a 10-month-old who doesn’t do well with bedtime stories. I felt like a failure when I couldn’t read my kids a bedtime story anymore. We started calm audio bedtime stories, and it’s been awesome! My older two love to pick them out and we all can lay and listen, sometimes even I fall asleep, too! There are so many routines that I’ve had to re-do and create completely new ones, and that’s ok. As long as my kids are getting what they need it’s ok if it isn’t perfect. It may not be exactly as you dreamed, you might not be doing everything perfect, but that’s ok. You’ve got littles who think you’re perfect for them, so the best we can do is try to be our best. But when we can’t, ask for help, or take a moment, and be kind to ourselves. You’ve got this, you’re worth it, and you have the most important job that will be in your heart forever.

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Erin is a mom of two beautiful little girls and a brand new baby boy. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Marketing from San Francisco State, and her career as a VP of Operations for a cosmetics company was her game for a long time. But once she became a mom everything changed, she wanted life to slow down and focus her energy on raising her children. She is fortunate to be married to a wonderful husband who is a frontline hero, Respiratory Therapist, at Kaiser. Being a stay-at-home mom has been such an incredible journey and she enjoys life’s great adventures. Erin enjoys reading, working out, being a foodie, crafting, and always a good laugh.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It took my 4 years to start taking care of myself and not feeling guilty about it. My boy is almost five and because of taking care of myself, finally I am feeling better and like myself.

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