Updated: Jul 24, 2020
Hi everyone. I'm Leslie and I am a sufferer of mom guilt. If I'm doing something remotely good for me, working at Hive (my bar) or working on The Hive Life (my blog), I think I should be using that time to do something with or for my kids. Ladies, I'm here to tell you it's bullshit and I feel like it is an important point for all mothers to know.
During my journey to become this person that I want to be, I have read an embarrassing amount of self-help books (I actually think they are referred to as "personal development" now which makes me feel like less of a loser). Whatever you want to call them, I've read a large amount just looking for the answers to make me feel better about myself, my life and my role in it. Sarah Mae and Rachel Hollis have both been big influences in my thinking over the past few months and have made me take a really hard look at my life as it was then. Am I anywhere near where I want to be...God no! However, I feel so much better. My anxiety about most things in gone and I am confident in myself again.
Over the next couple of weeks, I want to highlight a few things in a series of posts that I've learned or have had to work through. I can't be the only one who needs to hear this information!
Let's start with mom guilt...
What is it? It is simply that feeling of not doing enough as a parent, making wrong decisions that may “mess up” your kids in the long run. We all have it, don't we? It is this guilt that doesn't allow us to make ourselves a priority. Should we want the best and to be the best for our children? Absolutely! Yet, lets be honest. We're going to screw up anyway.
For example, yesterday, we spent the day at the pool. Being the responsible parent that I am, I put sunscreen on all my kids. While putting it on one, he decided to open his eyes while I was putting it on his face and y'all he screamed for 10 minutes. Despite trying my best to be a good parent, I still managed to screw something up. Lets not forget that I put sunscreen successfully on the other three. All I saw was the failure of one. The point is that I tried and that is all that your kids need to see. There is NO perfect and if you strive to be that you will be miserable and wear yourself out. Last December, that is where I found myself. I probably should have gone to therapy and been medicated but I was tired, miserable and even though the word scares me, I'm pretty sure I was depressed.
After learning that perfect is an illusion, I made myself a priority. If you know me, I carry around this large planner. I even take pride in the monstrous thing. It is filled with every appointment for my kids, work stuff and even my husband's schedule. After taking a hard look at it at the end of last year, I realized that other than a hair appointment every 6-8 weeks, there was NOTHING on that calendar for me. How sad is that? I was only a priority every 6-8 weeks. If I'm not a priority to myself then who will I ever be a priority for? That is when I decided to become a little selfish and guess what? I am my first priority now.
How Can You Have Kids and be #1?
Hear me out, it is not nearly as bad as it sounds. Here is how it goes down. When I now pull out that monstrous calendar, my kids appointments are still the first thing down. I'm not neglecting their health or wellbeing for my own. However, the next thing down is for me. I set goals for myself and the times that I schedule for on the calendar reflect those goals. I want to lose some weight. I want to spend more personal time with God. I want a successful business and blog. How am I going to achieve those if I don't have time for them? On the schedule they had to go. So now, every day I walk 2 miles, I spend at least 3 hours a week on the blog, I spend 30 minutes a day with my Bible and God and I spend at least 4 hours at the bar everyday to get what I need to get done. Does everything happen at the same time every day of every week? No!
You've got to be flexible! Make your time flexible but MANDATORY. For instance, I like to walk at the same time everyday but today, my daughter had an appointment. Did my walk happen? Absolutely, just not at the usual time. Ladies, you have to MAKE the time. As I'm typing this now, my seven year old is coloring on the floor of my office. I'm making this a priority right now and she is starting to understand that.
Let me not fool you though. Even with all the work I'm doing on myself and making myself a priority, I still fall short. I was thinking about it the other day, as I was buying underwear for my three year old, that I haven't actually purchased underwear for myself in over two years. Holy Crap! Even with making myself my first priority, my kids are still extremely high on the list so things, like new underwear, get overlooked.
Shocker Announcement : My Kids Aren't Even My #2 Priority
Gasp! My kids aren't even second on my priority list. What kind of a mother does that make me? A freaking great one actually, thanks for asking. My husband is my second priority. Horrible right? Uh...no! Research actually shows that your children need to know that not only to you love them but you love their father/mother as well. It helps to build their sense of security. You can't put your marriage on hold just because you have kids. Are you going to ignore your spouse for 18 years? What kind of example are we setting for our kids if we have a crap relationship?
Marriages take a hit when you add kids to the mix. Yes we love them but it is the truth. It takes a while to figure it all out. I get it, but if you don't make your spouse a priority, resentment builds. Have a date night with NO children at least twice a month. Make daily conversations without the kids around a must and let us not forget the ever important intimacies. You know what I'm talking about, hand holding, touching, kissing and the bedroom shenanigans. Set boundaries for your kids. Mine do not sleep in my bed. It has been a hard rule from day one. That is our space and for that matter they're really not even allowed in our bedroom. Boundaries are important and they help to establish the tone of your family and marriage.
My point is this, trying to be everything to everyone but yourself will make you a miserable cow! There I said it. I've been there and it's no fun. Set your priorities and put yourself high on the list and screw what anyone else thinks about it. I don't care how much you try, you'll never be perfect at everything and those who criticize you for putting yourself first are the same ones who are going to criticize you anyway so screw it.
Your happiness and the happiness and health, both physical and mental, of your OWN family are what is important and the opinions of others don't really matter. I've had people ask why I'm opening a bar, writing a blog, selling Maskcara and raising a family. My answer, in Jay-Z style, is that "I'm a Hustla Baby." Do I spend less time with kids? A little, but what they see is that their mom set goals and she is busting her behind to reach them. They are seeing, especially my daughter, that I can, and will, do anything I set my mind to. I think those lessons are just as important as playing and snuggling.