Times are tough right now. 2020 has impacted so many people in so many different ways. Moms in particular have been asked to take on a huge load this year. Many of us are not doing well, and in not doing well we often make decisions that come with a lot of mom guilt. I have heard over and over again in the last few month, “Give yourself some grace, you are parenting in a pandemic.” Well, that sounds good in theory, but grace is not something that moms are particularly skilled at. Mom guilt is real, and the pressure to raise tiny humans is intense. But, our mental health is important too. If we don’t practice giving ourselves grace, then we aren’t the best versions of ourselves for our families. It takes practice, but there are simple things you can do every day to set yourself up for grace.
I know, you hear this all of the time. You know what else I hear all of the time, though? I’m stressed or I’m burned out. Maybe it’s, why in the world don’t my kids/partner/ co-workers pull their fair share? I hear that consistently, mostly from women.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. They don’t pull their weight, because they don’t have to. They know that you will be there to do whatever it is that needs to get done. Then they will be relaxed and stress free, because they didn’t over work themselves, and you will continue to be burned out.
So, by saying no, you start creating your own mental space. When somebody makes a request, actually take a minute to think about it. Will this request set you over the edge? Will it take away from your ability to enjoy yourself? If the answer is yes, then say no. If no is hard, start with I can’t. Trust me, it might be a shock at first, but they will get used to it. And low and behold, they will start doing more for themselves, and requesting less from you. Leaving you in a place where you can focus on you, and have less guilt or things you need to give yourself grace for.
Make Yourself a Priority
This one is hard, especially for the ladies. But, if you are married (especially to a man), does it seem as hard for your partner? Does he get to the gym on a regular basis? Does he get to shower when he wants, or spend time with his friends? Does he ever feel guilty for any of this? Probably not.
Then why do you? You are just as important and valuable. Your relationships and me time is as well. Don’t get mad at your partner for making their needs a priority. Instead, do the same for you. Go to the gym. Your partner can handle the kids. Make that lunch date. If he can’t be available, then he can also help find a baby sitter. You are not the sacrificial lamb. You deserve your time as much as the next person, but you have to take it by the horns and make it happen.
And guess what? When you are taking care of your needs, you are more likely to go easy on yourself, thus making it easier to give yourself grace when appropriate. The link below from Psychokogy Today provides some insight on simple ways to incorporate more self care into your life.
As human beings, we tend to lean toward the negative. You can get ten compliments in a day, but one criticism will stick with you. Add that to our own self criticisms, and it’s hard not to get wrapped up in criticism and negativity.
If you pay attention, though, you will notice that there is typically much more positivity in a day than negativity. We often don’t even notice it. That means we need to intentionally look for it.
Practicing gratitude means noticing and intentionally paying attention to the positive things in your life. Finding a time every day to appreciate and be grateful.
I have started doing this right when I wake up in the morning. I was in the habit of reaching straight for my phone, often getting sucked into a negative loop. I still reach for my phone, but before I do I take a minute to think about what I’m grateful for. It sets the tone for the day.
Finding a time to incorporate it into your routine will help it stick. Remember, research shows that people who practice gratitude are happier than those who don’t. The benefit for practicing grace? It’s harder to participate in self criticism when you are intentionally paying attention to the positive.
The following article from Mindful.org offers more information on the benefits of practicing gratitude, abd tips to get started.
Nobody is going to make you a priority if you are not going to make yourself a priority. Read that again. You have to teach others how to treat you, and you do so by showing them how you treat you.
I’m not saying it’s easy. I imagine it’s probably even harder if circumstances mean you are parenting by yourself. But, you have to be selfish and take care of your needs. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
What do you need? How do you get it? Is it a half hour by yourself? Maybe that means leaving the kids at daycare, without guilt. Is it a regular gym time? Maybe that means your partner is responsible for the morning routine. Guilt has no place here, you need to speak up do what you need, or you are going to burn out.
Also, it’s not your job to figure everything out. It’s okay to say, “I’m going to start going to the gym at 6:00.” Period. End of sentence. Obviously, you are a decent human and would pick a time that doesn’t cause a major problems. But, it’s not your job to figure out all of the nitty gritty details for them.
That being said, if you have a partner, the only way this will work is if you allow them to parent. Sometimes we get caught up in micromanaging everything. Your partner may not do everything exactly the way you do it, but there is good in that. Our children can learn from different styles of parenting. So, let it go and go to the gym. Taking care of your needs, makes you less irritable and cranky, meaning you’ll find less reasons to beat yourself up. Aka, less reasons to give yourself grace.
When all else fails, cry it out. Life right now is hard. Many of the hard things are completely out of our control. As parents, we often have to hold things and and compartmentalize for our children. The problem is, if we don’t address our emotions, they build up like a poison. If we aren’t paying attention to the build, it can be very challenging to regulate our emotions. This makes us cranky, and therefore taking things out on the people we love. When we do that, it’s hard to feel good and give ourselves grace.
So, if all else fails, let those emotions out, and cry. Let it flow. There is plenty to cry about, and it’s a great way to get the emotions out. Once they are out, it’s much easy to self regulate.
As you can see, giving yourself grace actually is more about setting a foundation of good vibes. If you feel good, and your needs are met, you are less likely to put yourself in situations where grace is needed. Also, when your tank is full, it’s easier to forgive yourself when you screw up. You are less likely to beat yourself up when you are feeling good.
It’s been a really challenging year to be a parent. Take care of yourself, ask for help when you need it, and remember to give yourself grace.