Sundays are fun days but are also long days. The routine of school is out the door and by Sunday night there seems to be exhaustion everywhere. One of my best friend’s daughter is in the enjoyable stage of one nap is too little but two naps is too much. She sent me this picture tonight. After a very long day with her daughter, she treated herself to some alone time at an ice cream store and indulged.

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Sometimes, that is just what we need. A chance to sit and eat something you enjoy with no disturbances. Parenthood is tough. Very tough. Every step of the way there is a new challenge. Once they get a little order and grow out of one challenge, you don’t have time to breathe and relax before the next issue arrises. The other day I was talking to a friend about helping her put her baby on a schedule. I mentioned how anyway next month he will be starting solids and she replied, “Geez solids!! I can’t even get a grip on a breastfeeding schedule.” Can’t catch a break!

With all the challenges, it is important to acknowledge that you are doing your very best as a parent and you need to give yourself “me time” as well as cut back on the guilt. My cousin sent me this “Mom Guilt Bingo” today and suggested this post topic (Thanks!).

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It is hilarious, but sadly also So TRUE. There is SO MUCH GUILT. There are many blog posts and articles out there about the impossible achievement of “Pinterest mothers,” perfect organic lunches, looking fabulous and put together, well-behaved children and more. My view is that there is not one mother that does it ALL.

My words of advice (and again, I’m just a mom – take it or leave it if it doesn’t work for you!) is when you feel a moment of guilt:

  1. Take a step back and look at your child. Are their basic needs being met? You are responsible for that and you are doing a great job.
  2. Focus on the positive. Remind yourself of the things you do make an effort to do. Don’t compare, “So and so does this and that.” Looking at the bingo card, there are tons of things I would get X’s for – from epidurals, to stopping nursing before a year, to throwing away artwork, to screentime and MORE. But, there are boxes on the card that I do that are “extra” to their basic needs – like the baby book, remembering picture day and Never having Pizza for dinner (Just Kidding! We love pizza). My point is, that no one will get a card where they are perfect and no one will get a card that is all bad — and if you want to say, “No, I actually am guilty of everything this card says,” I guarantee if I listed other “extra” niceties you do for your children, there would be things you could check. Everyone gives part of themselves to their children, and no one way is the right way. Each child is different and each parent is different and what works for one set won’t necessarily be the right fit for another.
  3. Use these moments as teaching moments and constructive criticism. Once you allow yourself to really ‘pat yourself on the back’ for doing a good job, you can take the opportunity to think about areas for improvement. As stated before, no one is perfect. If you find yourself at a time that you think you can add an “extra” or try something you think your child will like that you have been avoiding, give it a shot.

It is important to not drain yourself to the point that you are no longer happy. “Mommy/Daddy time” is important. If it is financially possible for you to have someone watch the children for a little, or if you have family that can help — make sure to carve out GUILT-FREE time for yourself. Pick something you enjoy doing that does not have to do with your children and make sure you do it. It is very easy to get lost in your children’s lives and forget any of your own personal wants and needs, but it is necessary to be conscious of yourself as well. This time should be fun and guilt-free, because you are doing a great job and deserve it!

This idea has me thinking about an approach to parenting my mother taught in her parenting class. Democratic parenting (which I try to practice) is based on recognizing that in order to have a good relationship with our children, our children are equal to us in their rights to human dignity and respect. More about this approach in a different post, because right now I want to focus on the concept that the democratic approach is based on: One of dual respect. Usually someone will say “I respect you, so you respect me.” But Dual Respect is different – Dual Respect is “I respect you (the child) and I respect MYSELF.” I refer to this concept all the time in my life as a mom. When a situation comes up and I need to decide how to react, I often remind myself that at the same time as respecting my son, I need to be self-respectful as well.

Some examples:

I respect your right to throw a fit over __________ (could be anything with a toddler!)… But I respect myself and I will walk away because I don’t need to hear your tantrum

I respect your needs/wants to having my attention 24/7 … But I respect my need for me time. I have faith you can handle being upset and I can handle letting you handle it. (A story where I believed my son could handle it)

I respect your right to reject a food I know you do like… But I respect myself and won’t prepare you 10 dinners until you decide to eat

We should model Self-Respect without feeling guilty. Modeling self respect will be most important in teaching your child to have self respect. All the above situations are learning experiences as well because your child will survive, and will see for themselves that he/she could survive. You will see that your child survived, and have more confidence next time that they can handle it.

When you are having your “Mommy time” or “Daddy time” you should model “Dual Respect.” It is not self-respectful to feel guilty about all the things you don’t do. Instead feel encouraged by all the effort and all things you do.  Join me in giving GUILT the boot and encouraging each other to keep up the hard work because before you know it Sunday will be here again.

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