‘Needing Girl Time’ Asked:
I want to make more time for friendships this year but I feel guilty leaving my husband and kids to do so—is it wrong to make regular girl time happen? How can I explain that I need it to my family without making them feel neglected?
Dr. Zoe Answered:
What do your kids do for fun? Ask them how important their play time is. Ask them to imagine if they couldn’t have playtime anymore. Explain to them that moms need playtime too. Tell them that spending time with your friends is your playtime.
That’s pretty simple, but oh, that darn guilt! We can barely mention the word motherhood without talking about guilt. After all, once we become mothers (if you’re a good mother, anyway) our self is supposed to disappear right? Wrong.
First, let’s change the way you are speaking to yourself. You are not leaving your family to spend some time with your friends. When your daughter goes to ballet practice, do you consider her leaving you? When your kids go to school or your husband to work—are they leaving you? They’re just going to practice and he’s just going to work. They are still very much an integral part of the family unit—while also living out their individual lives.
There is no doubt that sacrifices have to be made as a mother. No more lazy days spent with friends hanging out at the beach—unless our kids are in tow. But if you are feeling the pull to invest in your friendships, there is a reason. It is unhealthy to expect our marriage or parental relationships to completely fulfill all of our needs as a woman.
There is a little voice that tells you that you need friendship. Because you do. We were meant to do life together with other women. Our modern society isolates us in our homes with technology and appliances that do the jobs that women used to do together in community. Bonds were forged over shared motherhood and womanhood experiences. We still need this.
Just like humans used to get our need for physical exercise in the manual work that was done to survive, we now must create opportunities, like the gym, to exercise our bodies. And we must take time out of our sedentary lifestyle to do it. You must take time out of your isolated lifestyle to cultivate the friendships that you were designed to have.
Exercising is not selfish—it’s self-care. Having friendships is not selfish—it’s self-care. As long as you’re not regularly ditching the family to go spend weekends in Vegas with your girlfriends, your guilt is unfounded.
But me telling you not to feel guilty is just a sweep of words across this keyboard. Sometimes we learn through experience, which is a tough teacher, and sometimes we learn from others’ experiences. I can tell you through my own and my clients’ experiences, that depleting yourself in the name of your family hurts everyone. The faster you learn this, the better for everyone.
A good guilt reliever is to plan individual time with your kids as soon as you get home. This is when they are most excited to see you and will treasure 15 minutes of focused attention. Another good practice is to schedule a date with your hubby each time you go out with your friends. If you two are already having a weekly date night (which I recommend) you are well ahead of this game.
The main issue that you need to tackle is your self-talk regarding seeking time with your friends. Every time guilt seeps in when you choose to cultivate your friendships, replace it with a loving thought about how important your self-care is for you and your family. Don’t evaluate whether you believe it. Just speak it. Over time, you will start to believe it.
You’ve got this. It just takes a little grit and grace!
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