If you’ve ever welcomed a child into your family, you’ve probably heard this advice:
Don’t worry about vacuuming for the first several months!
And even if you’ve never even babysat a child, you’ve probably also seen the cute, ubiquitous signs urging you to…
After all, we need to savor every moment, right? And if you’re vacuuming your house or putting away that pile of laundry on the chair, you’re probably not savoring it. In fact, you’re probably doing it while your child is saying, “Come on, Momma!” and wanting you to play. Don’t you know she’s growing up fast and won’t want to play with you forever?
Well, hello there, Mom Guilt.
Here’s the thing about the advice and the signs…they don’t apply to all of us. Much like every other aspect of parenthood, these are things we need to take and adapt to our personalities.
For example, I am one of those people that just needs to have my floors clean. They don’t have to be spotless, but I can only handle visible debris for a few days before I go crazy.
When my daughter was just a few weeks old, a friend came over so I could have a break. Before she left, she asked if there was anything else she could do for me. “Can I bring you some groceries? Start a load of laundry for you? Vacuum?”
I felt guilty when I asked her to vacuum since according to all the advice I’d been given, I wasn’t supposed to care about my floors at a time like this! And yet…I cannot overstate how much relief I felt in those clean floors. I distinctly remember feeling like a cloud had drifted away, and that maybe I could handle this little person that had been entrusted to me…all because I had clean floors.
Yet I still had Mom Guilt every time I stayed behind from going on a walk with my husband and daughter in order to do some vacuuming or heard them giggling downstairs while I was upstairs cleaning a bathroom.
I wanted so badly to be the mom who could continually ignore the chaos and savor the moment.
Then a few weeks ago, I read a post that really resonated with me: Just do the dishes.
“I’m writing to give you moms a word of permission. Do the dishes… I feel like I just want there to be that permission, in a world screaming at us to savor every second, that doing the dishes or the laundry or all of that stuff is still good.”
The author points out that doing the dishes teaches her kids an important life lesson: if you eat, you have to clean up. The things we do have consequences, and sometimes they aren’t that savor-able. Sometimes they just have to get done so that we can move on to doing something fun.
Remember that cloud that drifted away after my friend vacuumed for me? I felt that same sense of relief after reading that post. Just like the author, I’m a better mom when chaos is kept at bay. Cleaning, I’ve realized, is a type of self-care for me; it’s the same as how some people are better moms when they exercise or take an hour for a bubble bath or get a pedicure.
So later this summer, I won’t feel guilty taking someone up on their offer to vacuum while I have a newborn. And right now, I’m feeling less guilt when I stay back from a walk to do some cleaning. There are still plenty of memories being made, and momma’s taking care of herself in their making!