My Not-So-Dirty Little Secret to Being a Better Mom
As a stay at home mom, I’ve often felt as if I’ve been backed into a corner of having to “be it all” and “do it all” in the eyes of others. My family never placed that pressure on me, rather I suppose I created it myself and/or felt it from fellow mothers. I’ve often felt like asking for help or even just taking a break would be taken as a sign that I’m unfit to run a household and raise babies as a full time gig. People would remark about how clean my home was, how put together my kids’ outfits were and how organized I was. And because I truly enjoy all of those things it made me feel incredible that my efforts were appreciated and recognized. What I didn’t appreciate were the bags under my eyes from staying up all night to get it all done. I hit a wall.
The high of being a super mom was an addiction, but I was exhausted. So I thought about my options. Sure, I could let the house go. I could let the dishes pile in the sink and not worry about the dog hair on the couch. I could ask friends to turn the other way when they stopped by for coffee or play dates. Except that I couldn’t. It’s just not in my DNA to ignore a mess. I guess I could quit volunteering at the preschool. I mean all of those holiday parties really do take up a ton of time. If only seeing those smiling faces didn’t make my heart skip a beat! Well, maybe my husband won’t notice if we just start going out for every meal. Who wouldn’t love PIZZA everyday, right? But then I’d feel guilty about the lack of nutritional value. There are just some non-negotiable things I just wasn’t willing to sacrifice. Not to mention all of the things I was craving more time for, like working out, date nights and bible studies. So one year ago, I decided to try something different than my usual routine… And I was hooked.
In the beginning I thought I could just try it out. Just every once in awhile when I really needed a boost. It was my little secret and I didn’t want anyone to know. If someone found out, I was certain they’d judge. I couldn’t tell anyone that was completely addicted… Addicted to freeing up my schedule so I could soak up every minute of motherhood.
It started with a woman who came to clean our house every other week. Then we welcomed a puppy into our home and decided once a week cleanings just made more sense. (He sheds like crazy, but we love our furball!) I was able to briefly pick up at the end of each day and could sleep soundly knowing my house was tidy, so I was able to begin going to bed at a decent hour. It’s amazing what a full night’s rest can do for you. I was calmer during the day, able to let go a little more and play with my littles without looking around the house itemizing a list in my head of what needed to be done. I was able to fully engage in the “now” and it was glorious. Being well rested can change your attitude in a HUGE way.
Once the sleep deprived brain fog had lifted, I began to seek out other ways to take back my time. My new addiction? Being an efficient, happy mama and passionate wife. I found a laundry service that picks up and delivers for no additional cost, so no more trips back and forth to the dry cleaners several times a week. I also found an app that will deliver organic groceries to your door the same day you place your order — perfect for those days where you need one or two things but hate to interrupt your day’s happenings with a grocery shopping trip. Sure, it’s a little more expensive than going to pick it up yourself, but how could I put a price on my time with my babies? The new me was working smarter, not harder. She was fully immersed in the presence of her kids and husband. She had more time to take care of her personal health, to get those check ups she’d been putting off, and to get a haircut more than once a year. She had found that finding some helping hands didn’t just make her the best possible version of herself, but that opening her heart to other caring people allowed her to create her own “village” that her family would grow to love just as much as she did. But this new me, despite her new attributes as a mother… Well, she felt awful guilty.
I pondered this new ridden guilt for a while, and I realized that being a stay at home mom doesn’t absolve me from the same issues a working mom faces. Does the working mom feel bad about someone else shampooing the carpets so she can take her daughter out for ice cream? Probably not. Do working dads ever feel remorse about calling a lawn crew, so he can attend his son’s soccer tournament in lieu of laying new mulch in the flower beds? I’m guessing he doesn’t. I think as SAHMs, we’ve put an undue stress upon ourselves to carry the weight of the world for our families, and in that assumption that we have to do it all, all by ourselves, we’ve lost the “village” and gained a guilt complex.
I had to break the cycle of keeping secrets. I was no longer going to criminalize myself for doing what I felt was best for my little family. So I decided, the next time someone asks me, “How do you get it all done?” I was simply going to tell them, “I don’t.”
The honesty was liberating and soon I began shouting to the roof tops to all of my mama friends, singing the praises of coordinating a babysitting swap for a kid-free date night, referring them to my favorite housekeeper to save their sanity prior to their mother-in-law’s upcoming visit, practically BEGGING them to join the completely blissful time-saver that is Amazon Prime. Trust me, by their first diaper delivery they were hooked. I’m sure there have been some sideways glances, but I’m able to let that go now because I’m confident I’m doing the right thing for us.
I’m aware that not everyone gets the opportunity to seek hired hands to help out with the more mundane tasks. It’s not lost on me that this is a privilege that I’m incredibly grateful for. But I do hope that even if paying for help isn’t something you would consider, perhaps this will release you from the guilt of simply asking for it. From your partner, a family member or best girl friend who “gets it”. It’s my sincere hope that all mom’s, working, staying home or otherwise are allowed a free pass every now and then to put down the to do list and pick up their babies.