It was a typical morning around the house. Between dressing and feeding the kids and making herself look presentable, Mom wondered if she even knew who she was anymore. She enjoyed her children but always felt like she lived in the mommy fog and had no time for herself. She felt guilty about being away from her kids even for 30 minutes here or there, but sometimes she asked herself, "Where does a mother go to resign?"
Between endless laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning spit-up and spilled milk, keeping up with schedules, bath time, chasing children and preparing meals, many moms wonder exactly when they will get time for themselves. They feel that if one more person says, "In the blink of an eye they will be grown, so cherish every moment," they aren't sure how they will respond.
So how can a mom recharge her batteries without feeling guilty?
First, understand that taking care of yourself isn't optional; it's necessary. You can't give what you don't have. If you are always running on empty, irritable and have a short fuse, everybody knows it. It impacts your relationship with your children and tends to bring out the worst in them and you.
Here is some wisdom from moms who have been down this path before:
* Plain and simple, ask for help. Healthy people ask for what they need. If you don't have extended family around, barter with friends or find surrogate grandparents who would be willing to help. Avoid the trap of believing others are too busy to help you.
* Share the load. One mom shared that she has two children with special dietary needs. For a period of time, she alone made sure everything was in order for every meal. When she finally included her husband in the process, it allowed them both to care for their children's needs. Not going it alone has given her the freedom to be away without having to worry about them.
* Create margin in your family's life. You know your family situation better than anybody else, so evaluate your current set of circumstances. Your children don't have to be busy every moment. You don't have to do everything everybody else is doing. Commit to doing what is in your family's best interest.
* Do something daily that fills your soul and makes you smile. There are lots of options, from enjoying the outdoors to soaking in a tub in complete silence. Believe it or not, this will help you feel better about yourself and your parenting.
* Avoid wishing away the moments. Life is short. Instead of wishing time away, embrace where you are and make the most of every moment. Every season has its challenges. Instead of viewing the challenges negatively, surround yourself with people who can help you walk through them, embrace them and successfully reach the other side.
* Be grateful. In the midst of dirty laundry, food prep, smelly diapers, children pulling on you, fights over toys and lack of sleep, acknowledge your blessings. Even if you feel like you are living in a neverending fog, gratitude can change the way you feel and think about life in general.
A mom's role is not easy. But remember, moms have needs, too. If you want to care for your family well, take good care of yourself. Believe it or not, that is what will help lift you out of the fog preparing you for whatever comes next.
Julie Baumgardner is president and CEO of First Things First. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.