When Dirty Dishes Are Okay

Dirty Dishes or Stressed-Out Me?  Hmmm....

Dirty Dishes or Stressed-Out Me? Hmmm….

I really never understood why people felt the need to suggest to me, “When your baby sleeps, you should sleep.”  It was the first time I became a mother and I thought it made perfect sense.  After all, I was lacking sleep because I was nursing every 2 to 3 hours. I could barely stay awake and take care of myself now that another human was relying on me. Of course I was going to sleep!  Well, I soon realized that when the baby was sleeping I had NO TIME to sleep!  What no one told me was that when the baby was sleeping it was the only time I had to clean, do laundry and other daily household chores.  By the time I was finished and ready for that nap, guess what? Yup! The baby was up for her next feeding.

Eventually I got to the point where I could not keep up with the house because I was too exhausted from lack of sleep. I began to realize I needed to get back to taking care of me. It did not matter if my house was upside-down or the dishes were piling up. I napped for as long as my baby napped, and I did not feel guilty. When a friend or family member came over, I took advantage of their visit, and they were happy to have the time with the baby. I took longer showers and actually shaved my legs. I knew exactly what I needed to get myself back to being the woman I was prior to having children. Sometimes, if I didn’t feel like cooking that night, I asked my husband to stop and pick up dinner.

I was not ashamed of admitting that I needed the help. Anyone who offered to cook, help around the house, run errands for me, I gladly accepted and looked at it as a blessing. I made my MTO happen as much and as often as I could when the help was offered.

No, no one told me that as a mother my first instinct would be to NOT take care of myself, but that is exactly what happens.  We mothers must make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to have a Mommy Time-Out.  Yes, make sure the children are cared for, and when they are in capable, trusted hands, take the time you need to find yourself again so you can return to your family rested, centered and more capable of caring for them.

What are some things you wish someone had told you about motherhood?

MTO Guideline: Play Well With Others

In our on-going series of breaking down our “Mommy Time-Out Guidelines”, here’s another one:

Play Well With Others  Create a support group with friends and/or family that you trust.  If they have children, trade babysitting times.  If they don’t, watch their pets or their house when they go out of town.  At the very least, have a reliable babysitter listed among your contacts that you can call when you need that Time-Out.

Many times we try to be “Super Mom” by taking care of the whole family without any assistance.   We tend to forget that family and friends are willing to help if we allow them to.  I myself have created a support group with friends and family that I trust.  But that wasn’t easy at first.

I felt guilty asking them to help me take my Mommy Time-Out (MTO), “Hey, watch my kids for me while I get my nails done, or just sit in a movie theater.”  It felt weird asking. But they are mothers themselves, and just as in need of a Mommy Time-Out as I am, so when I realized I could give back to them in the same way, the guilt went away.

Now, my sisters and I and a couple of friends have created a community of MTO-ers.   We call each other a few days ahead of time and arrange child care, and we all take comfort knowing we are helping each other out.  I can say through this whole experience that I have many reliable babysitters listed among my contacts that I can call on a drop of a dime who are willing to help me out, and vice versa.  I am thankful to be around all theses moms that understand the importance of taking their Mommy Time-Out.

What about you?  Are there people in your life that you can call for help and give back to them in kind?  We’d love to hear from you!