Please note: If this is your first time visiting our blog, please click here to hear the premise of Pass It On, Baby! and how it all began.... Pass It On, Baby!
I LOVE that Heather and I get to handle Pass It On, Baby! on a daily basis. It gives us something that is only about helping others and completely allows us to step outside of ourselves, our families, our struggles and give back. But what happens to each of us when you give, give, give and have nothing for yourself? I think this will ring true for many of us mothers out there. I can tell you my story, but like everyone, let's suffice it to say we are busy. There are five of them, activities for each, all sorts of stuff we are involved in. Most of the time, I think that's great. I enjoy it! But, lately, I've been feeling each activity wear on me. The pressure of play dates, appointments, parties, training for a marathon....well, I've been feeling overwhelmed. Feeling like I am doing a pretty poor direction in every arena I turn....from keeping house, to remembering birthdays, writing thank you's, laundry - goodness, the list can go on and on. It wears on my self-esteem and I find myself wondering how everyone else seemingly keeps it all together. Heck, there are many days that just getting in the shower is a fete! :)
But here's the truth.....EVERYONE feels this way at one time or another. Your complaints may not mirror mine, but you get it. We all do. The problem is, once you get it, what do you do? If you keep avoiding the issues, do they go away? I can tell you they don't. Just like any situation in the world, if you don't meet them head on, they'll be there tomorrow and the next day and so on.
As moms, wives, friends, you-name-it, we give. We give to kids, to our significant others, to our extended families, to the schools....but what time is carved out for us? In the past, I've struggled with taking time away from my family because I feel guilty. Being a mom is what I do, so it seemed counterintuitive to take a break from who I am. But recently, I sat down and realized that being a mom may be who I am now, but there was a before that still exists inside me and needs caring for also.
My kids love to go to the park and play, it makes them feel alive and happy. We can all agree that that's great to nurture their little needs and spirits like that. It's when we turn that philosophy on ourselves that we can see how necessary it is for us as adults. When my kiddos don't get to go outside and run some energy down, play with other kids, they get stir crazy. They start misbehaving in the house, they are irritable, and they start to quarrel amongst themselves. Gosh that sounds familiar. When I haven't taken care of myself, I start to get irritable too! I start raising my voice to my kids more often, I feel confined and I find myself irritated at the smallest incidents. Funny how the logic of it all didn't hit me before.
Until very recently, I hadn't put much thought in to how to reenergize myself. At the end of the night after kids were in bed, lunches made, uniforms set out, I was just then starting a whole clean up cycle with laundry and prep for the next day. When all of that was finished, I was turning on some mindless tv just to veg out with my husband. The problem? Because there was no thought process involved, there was no real caring for my spirit, just kind of distracting it. Sometimes, we'd add a glass of wine in to the "relaxation" but still, the next morning as I was making breakfast, I could feel the exhaustion and the lack of energy about being home. That was leading to huge thoughts of failure and what was wrong with me? Here I am home with my kiddos and I'm mindlessly going through the day from one task to another and so on.....instead of enjoying the life I lead. Now I stop here and say I am BETTING that I am not the only one here. Many of us feel the same way from time to time. It's no secret, life is busy and most of us have many obligations and a lot less time for ourselves than what we used to. But the same way that you meet obstacles with your children, with your spouse, with finances - head on -- with a plan, several discussions, whatever - you need to meet caring for yourself in the exact same way.
What did I do? Well, it's hard for me to ask for help. To tell my husband that I really thought I was struggling everywhere and wasn't sure what to do about it. Then I talked to my family and shared how I felt. And you know what, it started to feel a little better as everyone kept saying, "We've ALL been there at one time or another!" And people started coming up with options. There were a few things that happened. First, it was so important to hear that people care. When you feel like you are drowning and you know you do have people to offer a hand - it helps. But in the end, I had to sit down and take a really hard look at myself. I had to look at my schedule and say to myself, "This schedule might not be more than others can handle, but it is more than I can handle." My husband and I also talked about what made us feel re-energized and how to carve out time for each of us in that manner. I had to ask for help where I needed it - whether from my kids, or whomever. We planned date nights, we talked about expectations and cut things out of our schedule. We started saying no to social obligations that overwhelmed instead of re-energized us. In some way, we took back control. We got back to basics.
So - I'm better. I'm taking things a little slower right now and actually making sure that I am present in each moment with the kids instead of just going through the motions. It's a work in progress as we all are, right? But again, I'm not the only one.
If you are like me and want to give back, but sometimes feel like there is nothing for yourself - you know, there is nothing wrong with calling a time out and getting yourself back together. Taking an hour to read instead of doing the laundry. Heading out for a solo shopping trip or a walk or a dinner with friends. Play some music and take a long bath. We need that. We can't take care of others when we aren't caring for ourselves. And likewise, if my children got older and had kids of their own and felt that they had to sacrifice themselves completely for their children - I would feel like I failed. I would feel like I never taught them that you had a two-folded responsibility...one to yourself, another to your kids.
So - its GREAT and IMPORTANT to be kind. Just remember that you need to be kind to yourself before you can be any help to anyone else.
In love and kindness,
Email Elizabeth & Heather
How we work
We are an online community of kind-hearted individuals who directly donate gently loved children's clothes to mothers who could use a little kindness. The wonderful donating mothers lovingly box up the clothes that they once loved their own kiddos in and send them for another mother to love on her children via the US Mail - Parcel Post. If you are in need, know someone in need or want to help by donating, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can't do any of these but would like to spread our message - thank you kindly! ~ Elizabeth & Heather