Monday, March 11, 2013

Mommy Guilt in Unexpected Places

There is mommy guilt everywhere.

Today it hit me as I was attempting to get the girls to nap at the same time.

Note: I was unsuccessful. By the time I finally got Madison sleeping, Reagan was awake. Then I didn't want Madison to sleep past 3:00 so she'd be willing to go to bed tonight. Ugh. I blame daylight savings.

The guilt of the Stay At Home Mom: What do you do during naptime?

I'm not talking about the one infant who wakes up all night so you need to sleep when the baby sleeps and ignore the housework for a little while dilemma.

Say you have....oh, let's say a 2 1/2 year old and a baby who just had her first birthday.  You know, hypothetically. Both girls (theoretically) go to bed early and get out of their beds about twelve hours later.

Should you feel guilty about sitting down and taking a break in the middle of the day?

Because I do.

This morning, Adam and I were discussing the yard, since we can see grass again. Our playscape is coming a week from today, and we have some clean-up to do. We're lucky enough to have the playscape installation included, but they do ask that you provide them with a level, clear space.  We had that...until we lost a tree earlier this year.  I don't do chainsaws....or lugging tree pieces....or clearing out thorny that's firmly an Adam project. But I helped brainstorm.

Having a plan in place for that, we went on to discussing how else to clean up our yard this year.  Adam is planning to take a vacation week in early April to fertilize the lawn, mulch, weed, powerwash, and all that other good stuff.  The man works crazy hours, and a lot of weekend days. If we need a massive project done, taking a vacation week is the best way to do it.

This sparked an idea in me.  Maybe if I took a whole day - dare I say, two - I could do some of those big organizational projects that I've totally fallen down on. Laundry closet. Basement. Kitchen cupboards. Not to mention the fact that since we live in New England, I have to do the major clothing swap (winter to summer) and figure out which child needs which clothes and shoes.

I floated this idea by Adam. Just the spark of it, no real plan. I was kind of excited though (which should have told me how sad my life is. I want a vacation day from my children to clean).

He didn't think it would be necessary. Come on, those jobs weren't that big. All I needed to do was really hustle during a few naptimes, and poof! I'd be done!  I mean, all I really needed to do was keep off the Kindle, or not get so involved in my blogging, or be careful not to get sucked into the DVR.

OK, before anyone goes off on Adam, he is really helpful, works an obscene amount of hours to ensure that I can continue to stay home, and completely encourages me to make sure I'm getting some solo time to recharge on the weekends. I'm not mad at him. And his suggestions for me to be more productive are things that I've complained about whenever I get behind. It's not like he's spying on me and charting my "working hours".  Adam is not the bad guy here.

I let it go. Not forever, but for now. It was a spur of the moment thought and I wasn't going to start an argument when I wasn't sure exactly why I was arguing.  When we have time to sit down and figure out exactly what needs to be done we'll work out a way to do it.  I'm honestly not worried about that. 

But I was thinking about it later and getting frustrated with myself.  It's that idea that when the girls sleep, I need to be in hustle mode. Sitting down is unacceptable. I'm not on a "break", I've just shifted roles. I'm taking a break from childcare to move into housekeeping. I vacuum. I mop. I clean the kitchen. I prep dinner. I clean bathrooms. I do laundry.  I clip coupons and make meal plans. And I need to do it fast enough so that I have time to get these bigger projects done.

This isn't me. I don't like bandanas.

I think this is still ingrained from my teaching days. Breaks from kids weren't "breaks", they were prep. I did a quick or a working lunch about 75% of the time. It's not like I had downtime at school.  Once I had Madison, I would pick her up, drive home, get dinner made, bag unpacked, lunches repacked, bath, bed...I didn't stop.  Downtime came once Madison was in bed, the kitchen was cleaned up, and we were ready for the next day.

Last Friday, I was cranky. So once the girls were napping I downloaded this book, and read it. All of it. I didn't vacuum. I didn't dust.  I didn't do the chores on my Friday list.  I sat with my feet up, watched DVRd TLC shows, and read. Hilarious book, relaxing afternoon. Awesome.

TWO toddlers. Double the fun.

Today I was feeling all guilty about that.  As in, I can't take a whole naptime like that again. I need to make sure I can get these chores done quick enough to figure out the big projects.

Why? It's not like I'm allowing the house to go to shambles because I pick up my laptop during the day. I'm not letting the sink overflow because I picked up the Kindle. I'm not causing us to run out of clean clothes because I got caught up in last season's Mad Men. I'm not destroying the home because I sat down, made myself lunch, and ate it.

It's my guilt. I don't think it's coming from exterior sources. It's mine. I'm home. I'm not bringing in income (contrary to popular belief, blogging is not exactly lucrative. I've actually lost money). And because my job is now household management, I need to treat it as such, and make sure I'm not slacking off.  I love staying home. I have very few days where I'm complaining. I like it when things are done.

So much for the idea that stay at home moms are lazy, huh?

Anyway, I feel like I should wrap this up with an answer, but I don't have one.  I hate the idea that I feel guilty for taking a moment to relax during the day, but I also don't know that I can make myself stop.  Maybe if I make peace with taking a few minutes daily, I won't have days (or many days) when I don't have a stitch of motivation left.

I guess there's always some Mommy Guilt afoot. I'll never vanquish it, so I might as well make peace with it.

The winner of Manner-Man was announced tonight! Karla is the winner and will receive her copy soon!

Don't forget, to win a copy of the book that gave me an afternoon of laughs on Friday, you need to visit Facebook! I will give away either a Kindle download OR a paper copy (if you are tablet free).  To enter, like my page on Facebook and leave a comment ON THAT PAGE telling me the funniest parenting moment you've experienced yourself, or through someone else. I'm amending the comment where you can ALSO tell me who you think is the FUNNIEST mom you can think of (real or fictional). Contest ends on SATURDAY!

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