Dealing with Caregiver Guilt
If you’re anything like me, you’re likely riddled with caregiver-guilt. I feel guilty when I buy myself something. I feel guilty when I leave my child with another person. I feel guilty for wanting an hour of childfree me-time. This keeps me from taking time to myself, even though it is desperately needed.
Yes, caregiver guilt keeps me physically present for my child but I find myself mentally checking out more often than I’d like to admit. What’s crazy is that this also makes me feel guilty. It’s one of those crazy conundrums that parents and caregivers everywhere have yet to solve but will probably never get around to doing so because we just don’t have the time.
I’ve had years of education on the importance of self-care. I know the benefits of taking time to yourself and doing things just for you. I’ve literally generated lists of activities in which to engage that will promote relaxation and positive feelings. I’m the first person to remind others that they need to take care of themselves.
Despite all of this, I still can’t manage to work in a good self-care routine for myself. I’m fairly certain this is due to the guilt I feel when I leave the house but I feel like it’s deeper than that. We live in a culture that expects certain things out of parents. If we don’t meet these expectations, we are often shamed into feeling guilty (as if we need any help).
Almost every single family needs two incomes in order to survive. We work full time jobs and then are expected to be full time parents. Now don’t get me wrong, I totally agree with being a full time parent and am not saying you should skirt your responsibilities. You have to spend meaningful time with your children in order to create a good bond. It’s literally essential to create decent human beings. What I amsaying is that in order to be fully present with our children, we have to take time to ourselves.
I think we lose part of our identity when we have children. I know that may sound negative but it’s the honest truth. Shedding part of our old identity is a major part of growing up and is super important but it can also be sad. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve grieved my old life after having a child. Sometimes I miss staying out until 3am and sleeping until noon. Sometimes I miss being able to binge watch whatever I want and use the bathroom without a buddy.
Prior to having a child, I had a pretty good work-life balance. It was easy because I didn’t have to share my time off work with a tiny, needy human. However, now that I have this tiny, needy human I have to figure out a brand new work-life balance that takes her needs into consideration.
So, how exactly do we create a work-life balance after having a family? There are several different ways to do this. You don’t have to go crazy with it – a little bit of time can go a long way. Find a way to integrate at least 30 minutes a day to yourself.
Find a class at the gym and leave your child at the daycare. Ask your co-parent to watch your child so you can sneak off and take a bubble bath or meditate or eat candy without having to share! Make sure you integrate it into your routine and stick with it once you figure out a time/place/activity. Don’t skip out on your self-care routine unless you absolutely have to.Don’t let anyone give you crap for it. You deserve to have a break and you owe it to your children to do so!
Do you need help overcoming caregiver guilt? Parent coaching services with Leanne Pilgrim might be right for you. Click here to schedule your FREE consultation.