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I have lost track on how many times I have started my day out wanting to do something just for me. Only to end up at the end of the day with nothing accomplished that I had on my list to do.

No long extravagant bubble bath, no glass of wine in peace, no reading endless chapters of my book, no trip to the get it right..

So many times I see social posts talking about "self love" and how important that is, and how these things I listed above are what that looks like.....but I somehow can't figure out how to incorporate them into my day without feeling completely selfish and guilty.

Does this mean that I don't have self love???

I don't think that is what it means at all actually. I think it means that I am a mom to 3 teenagers, work full time, am working on a part-time passion project and run a household. It means that I have dreams and aspirations to have these things one day in my life but for right now I have to be a little more creative.

Because to me, self-love is also sitting and chatting with my 16 year old about her day. It is also cooking dinner with my 13 year old and self-love is reading over my 19 year old's script that one day millions of people will line up to watch......ok that one is a total mom fantasy...

Here is what I know for all you parents out there that are wondering how to take care of your needs without feeling guilty about it.

How to focus on your own needs without feeling guilty?

I have to say that I am not sure just how many parents don't feel guilty for focusing on their own needs. I know that this is something I have felt guilty about. I would think that if I focused on me, then that would mean I was selfish. And that possibly would mean that I didn’t love my kids as much as I loved myself.

This is especially true of parents who have children with special needs. We often have parenting challenges that are not understood, that are judged, and we are most of the time the hardest on ourselves. Most days are unpredictable, leaving the parents even more strained.

How many times have you gone to the grocery store on autopilot. Functioned all day being sleep deprived and just cannot wait to fall into bed and sleep? I am guilty of this.

I thought that I was doing my best for my family. That they needed me and I had to keep going. What I didn’t realize was that the quality of me that I was offering them was not very good. I was overwhelmed, cranky, short with my answers, and didn’t really give them the love that I thought I was.

How could I possibly give them all of my attention when I was so drained?

So if my kids are my everything, shouldn't I give them the best possible version of myself?

When you are about to take off on an airplane, the safety instructions are in the event of an emergency and the oxygen masks drop, you are to put your own mask on first before helping anyone else. You cannot be of any help to anyone if you are suffering from oxygen deprivation, you cannot help others if you don’t help yourself first.

But knowing this, why do us parents still feel guilty when we think about focusing on us? The thought of a warm bubble bath with candles and nice music sounds absolutely heavenly, but knowing that you will have to deal with whatever mess is waiting for you afterwards robs you of that pleasure.

Going for a walk by yourself, listening to my music may lifts your spirits and will reset you for the rest of the day......

until about 10 minutes into it and you start to wonder,

will the kids be ok,

what if the need me,

what if someone tries to break into the house….

what if their dad doesn’t hear them crying…..

these thoughts totally hijack your walk and you call or start your way back home. Only to find that everything is fine and you beat yourself up for ruining this time you had to exercise.

“It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.” – Mother Teresa

Here are my best tips for beating the parent guilt and putting your own needs first

  • Pick 1 thing that brings you joy.

    • Could be a bubble bath, going for a walk, cooking your favorite meal or dessert, reading a book, having coffee with a friend, or taking an exercise or dance class.

  • Make a plan as to when you are going to do this particular activity. Explain to your partner or support person how important this is to you. Then make the arrangements for the kids to be taken care of for the duration. Hire a babysitter if needed.

    • Write it in your calendar, post it on the fridge. Let everyone who needs to know, know when you are going to it.

  • When the time comes, DO THE ACTIVITY!

    • The first couple of times you may have to actually make yourself do this. It may feel uncomfortable, but trust me, if you have followed the first 2 steps, you will see EVERYTHING WILL BE OK!

  • After you are finished, and before you see your kids, write in your journal or do a quick voice record on how you feel in that moment.

    • Are you relaxed, recharged, peaceful, or are you energetic, feeling youthful again, and ready to take on the world! It doesn’t matter how little of a shift in energy that you feel after this, the important thing is to write down how you feel.

  • Decide if this particular activity is something you wish to keep doing. If so, then make a commitment to doing this 1 time a week to start. If you didn’t enjoy the activity as much as you always thought you would like, then pick a new activity and follow the same steps the following week.

I can almost guarantee that your family may be a little unsure of this at first. Especially if you have never done anything like this before. I know my girls were a bit unsure when I first started going for my walks without them. They were quite little and their father was responsible for their bathtime. That is when I would go. Once I assured them that I love them very much, and was consistent with my walks, they began to not even notice when I was gone. My husband started asking me if I had a nice walk, instead of the snide remarks that he used to pass when I first started.

The best thing was that I started to feel better. I started to sleep better, eat better, laugh more and be a more patient mom. I was able to be present with them which built better memories.

I learned that I can still be me, do things that I love, AND be a good mom. It wasn’t a choice. I didn’t have to choose time with my kids or a bubble bath, I found a way to do both.

Thank you for being here. I hope these strategies will help you to stop all the PARENT GUILT and start to have some of that "Self-Love"

Karen Anne Fasulo


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