Settling in to read a good book with a hot cup of coffee while the kids nap. Sounds like the perfect way to spend some time alone, taking care of ourselves. But there always seems to be a nagging feeling. A thought that maybe there are better ways to spend our time. There are dishes in the sink from breakfast. The laundry needs to be flipped. The floors need to be swept. We feel like taking thirty minutes to sit down to read or do another activity we enjoy is a poor choice. There must be wiser ways to spend our time. This is why I’ve compiled a list of 3 reasons why we feel guilty practicing self-care (and how to stop feeling guilty).
But what if we set that guilty feeling aside? What would happen if we viewed taking the time to focus on our well-being as a beneficial way to spend our time? Instead of feeling guilty when we crack open that book for a moment of peace? I’ve thought of three reasons why we feel guilty practicing self-care and how to stop feeling guilty.
Self-Care Feels Less Productive
Maybe we feel like there are other, more important things to be done. We may think this is not the most productive way to spend our time. But what if I told you it is a productive way to spend your time? Self-care, using our favorite activities, nourishes the soul. It gets more and more difficult to take care of others when we don’t take care of ourselves. Taking care of ourselves, in turn, means we’re taking care of our children.
It’s much like when we don’t get enough sleep. I discovered how bear-like I became when I was up with my son six times at night in the early months. But later, when he started to sleep more soundly through the night, so did I, and there was a transformation. I became a human again! Well, not literally, but I know a sleep-deprived me is not my best self. The same goes for self-care.
If we don’t spend some time filling our cup each day, we slowly deteriorate. So don’t think about the chores or errands. Instead, set a timer for thirty minutes to focus on a hobby, such as reading, each day. After using the timer regularly, watch as it becomes something you can’t live without.
Time Feels Better Spent Elsewhere
Sometimes, we feel we should be spending time with the hubs or the kids instead of enjoying our hobbies. When naps are short or it’s the weekend when everyone’s home, we feel guilty setting aside time for ourselves. But I’m here to tell you, everyone needs time alone. As an introvert, I prefer time alone. It’s how I recharge. Yes, it’s important to spend time with our spouse, but I know my husband needs some time to himself each day, especially when it’s been a long day at work.
Our children also need to learn to play independently. We won’t always be there to entertain them and it’s important to learn how to play alone. Who knows, maybe they’ll feel inspired to pick up a book if they see Mom reading. The easiest way to spend some time alone is to communicate to our loved ones the importance of alone time. Tell the kids they can watch their favorite show for a while. Tell your husband to play his favorite video game. And give yourself the much needed time to read.
Self-Care Feels Undeserved
The most difficult guilt to manage is when we feel we don’t deserve the opportunity to spend time on our favorite activities. Maybe we felt impatient with our kids? Maybe we snapped at our husband? Or we didn’t finish every chore or errand on the list. We feel the need to serve penance for our wrongdoings and shortcomings. If you need just one person to tell you it’s okay to take the time for yourself to recharge, I will be that one person. You are more than deserving of a break.
Just because the floors are dirty, that prescription didn’t get picked up, or the dog didn’t go on a walk, doesn’t mean you have to punish yourself. As moms, we do more than enough every single day just to make sure the household runs smoothly. Tell yourself that some things will have to wait until tomorrow and it won’t be the end of the world. Planning the day, and even the whole week, as well as time blocking, can come in handy when it comes to completing chores and errands.
Make a list of everything that needs to be completed that day or week (including reading and other fun activities!), and schedule each item at a certain time. Be sure to give the agenda item a specified completion time, otherwise, we have a tendency to spend a lot longer completing the task than what’s necessary. It’s helpful to organize tasks from most important to least important, making sure to schedule the most important tasks first. It’s easiest to put reading and other hobbies near the top of the list to make sure it gets taken care of each day.
There you have it – 3 reasons why we feel guilty practicing self-care (and how to stop feeling guilty). Despite having the means to control our guilt, it comes down to a change in mindset. Even if we set a timer, make sure our family members are entertained, and intentionally plan out how to spend our time, we can still feel the nudge from guilt. Sure, setting timers and taking the time to plan can help, but if our mindset doesn’t shift, then we could fall right back into old habits.
Finding a way to retrain our brain to switch gears and thinking of reading as a fun activity with no guilt behind it can be challenging, but it is possible. Meditation, practicing a mantra, or maybe even reading a book about mom guilt could help. Of course, finding the right book can also help to distract from the feeling of guilt. After reading a few books we enjoy, we might start to feel less guilty and more entertained when we read.
If you enjoyed 3 Reasons Why We Feel Guilty Practicing Self-Care (and How to Stop Feeling Guilty), be sure to share it! You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. You might also like my article, How to Regain Your Pre-Motherhood Identity Through Reading. It’s about you can feel more like yourself before you had kids by getting back into the habit of reading.