I actually have no recollection of my first outing without my daughter.
Those first few months are just a blur in my mind, so it’s very likely that I was experiencing somewhat of a newborn blackout. My first solo outing probably involved a stop for coffee and then a slow trip around either Target or Trader Joe’s. However, what I do remember is that I had to practically be pushed out the door of our apartment. At the time, I really needed and wanted a break from newborn life, both physically and mentally. But something was holding me back from taking the afternoon for myself.
It was the feeling of guilt.
I felt so guilty about my desire for a temporary break from my daughter. How was I supposed to be a good, dedicated mother when I was already wanting time away after just a month? Motherhood was all I had hoped and dreamed for, so what was my problem? I convinced myself that just a walk outside with the stroller would make me feel better. I’m so thankful for my mom who made multiple trips out to us after my daughter was born. She was visiting at the time, and at that moment, it was like she read my mind. She told me a quick walk wouldn’t do and that I needed to get out and clear my head. My mom took the baby, wrote down her feeding schedule, and pushed me out the door.
That’s when I realized it wasn’t so much that I wanted a break, it was that I actually needed one.
As new moms, we often neglect our needs because we are laser-focused on the needs of our children. We will skip brushing our teeth, showering, eating, sleeping — pretty much everything (except coffee) to prioritize our child. So, why do we feel guilty taking two hours of “me time” when offered by partners, grandparents, or friends? It’s possible some mothers feel pressure to be supermom and that taking a break is a sign of weakness. Or some working mothers might feel they should spend all non-working hours with their children.
Regardless of where this feeling of guilt might stem from, it’s OK for you to take a timeout from being a mom to focus on yourself.
Temporary breaks are crucial for mental and physical rejuvenation, fueling you with the energy and strength you need to take on what’s next. Similar to how athletes need halftime and actors need an intermission, moms need time to reset and recharge. That’s what the weekends are for in the working world, but we all know the job of being a mom is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m not suggesting you need a full day at the spa every other weekend (although go for it if it’s feasible and that’s what you want!). But if your partner says they will stay with the kids for a few hours, just grab your keys and go, mama. Go get a manicure while listening to your favorite podcast, have a relaxing lunch with a friend, or browse every aisle at HomeGoods. Whatever it is that helps you relax and feel like yourself again. Never feel guilty about trying to be the best version of yourself.
Taking time for yourself is what helps make you the best mom you can be for your family.
Not sure where to start? Here are some of our favorite ways to take time for ourselves.
Dive into something you love
Maybe it’s reading books. Maybe it’s cooking fun meals from scratch. Or perhaps you really love working out. Whatever your passions are, there’s a good chance they took a backseat when you became a mother. Getting back into what you love, even if it’s just for a short amount of time per day, can help you feel refreshed.
Flex your mental muscles
As humans, we’re used to a good deal of thinking, dreaming, problem-solving, and doing each day. After you become a mom, a lot of that mental energy gets wrapped up into your baby. This can feel jarring – like you go days without doing “anything” even when you’re doing a lot. Taking some time for mindset exercises, working on self-improvement, or making time for reflection can be great ways to get your mind moving again.
Spend time with old friends
Motherhood can be pretty lonely at times. And even though you may have a group of friends, being a new mom can often make you feel unintentionally left out or forgotten. Making new mom friends is not easy, but a little effort might bring you surprising results. Taking some time to talk to old or new friends can help you feel like yourself again.
Date your partner
There’s a lot of truth to the old adage that baby changes everything, and that’s definitely true when it comes to marriage. Often, reconnecting with your partner at home or getting a babysitter for a night out is just the break you need to feel new.
Just plain relax