I recently read an article about how women, in particular, moms, bear the brunt of the “emotional labor” (I’ve also heard it referred to as “mental load”) in our families. The basic premise is that, even when it appears on the surface that our spouses or partners are equally sharing the household responsibilities, the reality is that they probably aren’t, and that’s because of the emotional labor that women deal with. We are the ones that are constantly thinking 3 steps ahead and planning dinner for tomorrow night and what that means for tonight’s grocery store run, we are the ones juggling schedules and reminding everyone where they need to be every night of the week, and we are the ones with a mental list of the household necessities that are running low and need to be replenished. These are just a few examples, but this isn’t a post about all of the emotional labor that women deal with each day. I say all this to make the following point–isn’t this EXHAUSTING, mama?
The simple answer is yes, yes it is exhausting. In addition to our roles as mothers and wives, we take on all of the loose ends that need to be held together to keep our family life moving smoothly. That means our brains are constantly running through our never-ending to-do lists, even at a time when we are supposed to be relaxing. I make a conscious effort to shut off my brain during my daily 5 a.m. workouts, but many times these reminders about my day start creeping in, despite my best efforts.
My solution? A guilt-free getaway for mom. A couple of days with no kids, no husband, and just the opportunity to unwind and truly be “off” the clock of motherhood. Yep, you heard me right. Take a couple of days off. And I don’t even mean with your husband. Take a couple of days that are truly just for you. Maybe that means escaping somewhere with your best friend. Maybe it means flying solo. For me, it meant a couple of days away with my sister, who happens to be one of my very best friends now that we’re real-life adults. That’s right– I’m writing this post from a patio overlooking Perdido Key Beach in Florida, where I’m currently sitting and sipping on a class of “Beachhouse” rose. I’m on my own guilt-free getaway this week with my sister for company, and it’s the best thing I’ve done for my own mental health in a long, long time.
I felt guilty about this trip as the time neared for me to leave. My husband was totally on board and encouraging, reminding me that he and the kids would be fine. But ultimately, one friend put it to me in a way that really resonated: “Think about this as an investment in your mental health. If you were sick and had to go to the hospital for a couple of days, you wouldn’t feel guilty, would you? This is your way of resetting yourself so you don’t get to the point of a breakdown. You are going to come back relaxed and be a better mom for it.”
How often do we put the needs of our family before our own? The answer is most likely a resounding “ALL THE TIME.” It’s time to take the opportunity to recognize that even moms need a break now and again. Dads can hold down the fort for a couple of days, even if that looks like eating fast food for dinner every night while you’re gone. It’s time for us moms to realize that our own mental health and well being is important. Actually, it’s not just important–it’s essential–because it affects our ability to be the very best parents that we can be. And at the end of the day, isn’t that exactly what we’re all striving for, anyway?