Did you know October 2-8 was National Mental Health Awareness week?
Shockingly, I was so busy I’m only clueing into this fact two weeks later. I try to stay current with all the random holidays/celebrations/honorary days and weeks. But given football schedules and family dynamics and transitioning into a new job, I missed it.
Which is kind of ironic, to be honest. So many of us moms, at some point or another, have struggled with our mental health. And yet, when do we have the time to actually address it? Hell, I couldn’t even find a few minutes to recognize an entire week had been devoted to its awareness, let alone write a post on it.
There have been a number of fascinating articles written during and just after the pandemic began to ease regarding the crisis American mothers are facing. We’re overbooked, fresh out of patience, beyond exhausted, multitasking at superhuman levels, carrying the mental load of (occasionally) entire households, and all while we try to carry on having our own identities, careers, passions, and hobbies. The articles (I’ll link a few of them at the bottom) have successfully identified the problem (yay, super awesome). But what I want to know is, what the hell has been done to try and fix it?
As I sat down to write this post, I began to think about my own mental health (or the shred of the tapestry I’ve left of it). As I did a quick self-assessment, I started to relax thinking about my son’s football season coming to a close (it’s a huge time commitment and weeknight stressor). No sooner than I started to ease my mind, I realized we’re coming in hot on the holiday season and I’m pretty sure my shoulders erased what was left of my neck as they rose up in tension to meet my ears.
It’s. Never. Ending.
When one thing clears off your plate, there are six more on the burner waiting to be addressed. There are the chores you can never find the time to get to (full disclosure: my master bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in well over a month, because, well, quite frankly, the tub and toilet bowl are still white.). Then there are the one-timers. The random things that come up once a year but require almost immediate attention (I’m talking shopping for school picture day outfits, helping your kid with their band fundraiser, or birthday party planning). Then there are the personals. The things YOU want to do, for yourself (you selfish bish - eyeroll), that always get pushed because that’s what we do. When it comes to prioritizing shit on the To Do List, how often do we put ourselves at the tippity top? How often do we find time to squirrel away a few minutes for ourselves?
Well, no more. If Mamas are, in fact, in crisis, then Lord knows we can’t wait for the rest of the world to solve this problem for us. It’s time we take things into our own hands, ladies.
I’m posing a challenge to you this week. And also because I’d like to hold myself accountable. It’s time for us Moms to make a little room on that long ass list for our needs, our priorities, for us. So, I’m asking you to take the #MamaMinutes Challenge for the next seven days. Each day, you MUST find 10 (TEN) minutes (or preferably more) for you. Go lock yourself in your bedroom and read. Hell, lock yourself in your car and listen to a soothing musical playlist for ten minutes. Call a friend you’ve been missing. Go for a freaking walk (you don’t even have to take the dog if you don’t want to - I won’t judge you). Scroll mindlessly through social media. Do a crossword. Build something that makes you happy. Color. Go into a store with the sole purpose of finding something FOR YOU. Do a quickie YouTube workout. Whatever makes you happy and brings you a bit of joy.
If you have littles, let your partner know you’re cashing in on your #MamaMinutes when he/she gets home. If your kiddos are older, let them know you’re inaccessible for TEN WHOLE MINUTES (Gah, the horror! How will they survive?!)
I promise, they will. They might scream, they may threaten to break down the bathroom door, they will most definitely whine. But they will still be in (mostly) one piece. And bonus? They’ll see you establishing healthy boundaries & habits. You’ll be normalizing, for them (and their future partners) that making time for yourself is not only healthy, but necessary.
Now, here’s the catch. You have to try your damned hardest to ditch the mom guilt. I know, easier said than done. But can I ask you something? Who feels guilty when your needs aren’t met? Repeat after me: I am not a bad mother for prioritizing myself.
I’d counter that you’re actually a better mother for it. I am a better mother when I am less stressed. I am a better mother when I have outlets and am able to utilize my own coping methods to regulate my own emotions. I am a better mother when I am able to do the things I love and give attention to my own passions. (For example, tonight, I arrived home from the grocery store, handed the goods off to Anthony, said hello to Amelya and announced I was taking an hour to go sit on the couch in my bedroom and write - completely removed from them.)
My head doesn’t turn on a swivel like something out of the Exorcist when I take five and have some me time. When I can find a few minutes ever day to carve out for myself, I come back to my kids a more patient, understanding, empathetic, tapped-in mama.
But don’t take my word for it. Give it a try. Seven days. Ten minutes a day. More than an entire hour collectively in this next week just for you.
What have you got to lose?
If we really are in crisis and we’re so close to that breaking point anyway, why don’t we stop writing articles about it, stop talking about how stressed out and tapped out we are, and do something? Let’s stop feeling guilty. Let’s start making time for us. Let’s start putting our own mental health first. Let’s start finding time for the things we want, love, and NEED.
Do me a favor? Take the challenge and help me document it on social media this week. Post how you use your me time with #MamaMinutes. Let’s support each other as we try to rewrite the narrative.