How To Stop Being A Martyr Mom

Let’s face it: motherhood is HARD, y’all. It’s a rough-and-tumble job in my house with two boys, and most days I don’t get a break. I find myself wondering why it’s so important that my child do a curated craft or bake each day. How can I stop being a martyr mom?

15 Ways To Stop Being A Martyr Mom


I wonder if doing 45 minutes of school at a time is too little…but an hour seems overwhelming. I worry about not getting the laundry, or the dishes, or the floors done. I lie awake at night making lists…and I actually had to start keeping my planner downstairs so I couldn’t write them down (Sad, but true!).

I know I’m not alone in this. I’m tired of feeling guilty for wanting to workout. Let’s not even talk about actually exercising. If I want 5 minute’s peace? I have a child banging on the bathroom (or the closet) door. At what point do we admit to ourselves that yes, we love our babies, but dammit, we need some “me” time, too!

15 Ways To Stop Being A Martyr Mom


Admit That You Are A Working Mom


Especially if you work. You know what counts as work? You, taking care of your kids. You, leaving at the crack of dawn to make it by the office in time to pump. You, running the errands and making sure that the laundry is done. You, doing all of the jobs that you don’t get paid for…and the ones you do.

I’m a working mom and a stay-at-home…because I work from home. It’s hard, and I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough. And then I read about Martyr Moms. As I went down the list, I just kept seeing imaginary checkmarks appear by each number. ALL 15. Holy smokes.


Time To Take Responsibility


Here I am, feeling like I’m losing myself…and blaming everyone but me. And whose fault is it really? I choose to work at home-sure, theoretically I could go get a job, put the kids in daycare and have from 9 to 5 to get some “adult” time. But that’s not what I want. And I realize how blessed I am that I do not need to work. There are a lot of moms out there who don’t have that choice.

So why I am complaining? You know what? I think that there’s something to be said for modern moms…so many of us really are suffering from Martyr Mom Syndrome. And I am guilty of this.

So guilty…and then I realized something: I always feel guilty for enjoying my “me” time. That is just wrong! Yes, I should miss my kids, but dammit, I’m going to enjoy my time!


Make Some (Major) Changes


And that time is now. If I keep waiting…especially given everything we’ve gone through in the past year, I’m never going to do this. It’s now or never. Literally. I either make changes now, and show my boys how to be a strong and independent person and a good wife, or I just sit and wait…. But what am I waiting for?

15 Ways To Stop Being A Martyr Mom

Admit that excuses are just excuses.

This one is hard for me. “The Baby is taking a nap, so I can’t clean the bathroom right now, which means that I can’t hop on the elliptical later.” Or “I’m tired”. Which seems to be my mantra of late. I have a whole library of workouts that I love. I also have an elliptical…so what’s stopping me? Honestly? Nothing. Not a dang thing…except excuses.

Let go of the guilt.

I should not feel guilty for wanting to be healthy, have a coffee alone, or even a shower! The Baby takes 2 naps a day…this means that I have at least 2 hours with just my older child, and Smalls is getting rather independent. What is stopping me from sending him out to play with his sand and water table?

Why is it such an ordeal for me to get in a 30 minute workout? Or a 10 minute shower? I should not feel guilty for self-love.

stressed out momWork through your parenting fears.

Let’s face it, I have something very real to be scared of. Smalls could get sick again tomorrow. Or it could be 5, 10, or even 15 years. Or he could be an adult the next time we spend a year in the hospital. Each parent faces a different fear-which means that your fears are different than mine.

Maybe you are afraid that you’ll miss first steps, or that you’ll “ruin” your baby by letting him cry for a minute while you pee in peace (you won’t). Whatever your fears are…they’re just that, fears. You are a great mom, accept it.

Stop being a martyr mom – schedule “me” time that doesn’t include the grocery store or Target.

Sure, I love Target as much as the next girl (I’ve been there 2 times this week alone and it’s MONDAY!). But there’s something not quite relaxing when you’re running in for tape, or milk, or that movie you promised your kid they could have when it comes out.

Find time that you can be you…without chores. Maybe that means a walk around the block, or sitting down with a good book for a few minutes before bed. Or maybe it means fitting in a workout no matter what your day holds…even if it’s 10:00 at night and you’re ready to fall over from exhaustion. There are yoga DVDs for that.

Shower EVERY day.

There’s something about a shower that washes away the stress and spit up. Odd, but true. And if you’re like me, it’s something that usually ends up on the bottom of your list.

Trust me when I say that it should be at the time. Right after your workout. Just do it. Even if you have to put a movie in for 10 minutes to keep the kids quiet. Figure out a way to clean up every day. You’ll feel better, trust me on this one.

It’s possible to have “me” time with the kids.

Really! If you want to take a walk, but you can’t find someone to watch the kids, or your partner is working, or you haven’t done the dishes…remind yourself that these are just excuses. Take the kids to the park and let them run. Go for a walk. Let your kids ride their bikes and play outside while you watch and relax in the sun.

angry momSay no.

You are not your child’s friend. You are MOM. It’s okay to say no to a tea party or tag if you don’t feel like it. I can feel you staring at me as I say this…but it’s true. It’s not your job to be your children’s playmate.

Yes, you should play with your babies. Yes, it’s okay to enjoy it. But trust me on this: they can play independently…and if yours can’t, it’s time to start working on that. Institute some independent play each day and do something that you enjoy for yourself. Get your workout in, read a book. Troll Pinterest. Let go of the guilt and stop being a martyr mom. 

Stop being a martyr mom – trim the list.

Kids nowadays are involved in an insane amount of activities…but think about your childhood. Was it scheduled to an insane degree? I was super-busy as a kid…in high school. As a younger child, I had one or two activities (soccer, ballet, or swimming) that I enjoyed…but not all at once!

I get that there are some future Olympians out there who need to spend an inordinate amount of time at the gym, but most kids do not. Really. And if they do, you are not required to sit and watch every single class. That gymnastics class or dance class is for your child. Not for you.

Go grab a coffee and stay for 10 minutes at the beginning or the end of class if you like. Not the whole thing.

Find a good babysitter…or a good friend.

Someone you trust. Someone your kids like. And someone who doesn’t charge an arm and a leg. Ask your friends, especially if they have teenagers. Research the going rate, and test the waters.

It’s okay to get a babysitter so that you can go sit at the park…alone. Can’t afford a babysitter? Been there. Am there (yay medical bills!). Find a friend or a few friends who are willing to trade babysitting services. Get creative. Drop your kids off and go see a movie, then take her kids next time.

martyr momStop blaming.

Just stop. So you’re broke. Me, too. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t do something free for myself. I paint my own nails. I buy makeup once or twice a year with a gift card that I get for Christmas (usually). Find activities that are free.

Many parks offer free movies on Friday or Saturday night. In Houston, TUTS offers free theatre in the summers! Check out your city and see what you can find to do without spending a ton (or better yet, anything at all!).

Life isn’t perfect, so model the behaviors you want to see in your children.

Trust me on this. My life fell apart last year. It’s still not put itself completely back together, but I’m working on it. There are going to be days when you don’t get your workout in on time, or you don’t shower until right before bed.

But there is no excuse to not take care of yourself. Remember that we are our children’s teachers. They want to be just like us. Do I want my kids to think that it’s okay to sit on the couch all day? Or now shower for a week few days? No, no I don’t. It’s up to us parents to teach our children the kind of people we want them to grow up to be. 

Show your kids that you love yourself…better yet, teach them to love themselves. It’s all about leading by example, y’all.

Learn to use your crockpot.

Free up that dinnertime scramble. Let’s face it-dinner time is murder when you have small kids. It’s so close to bedtime, and if you or your partner (or both!) work, then it’s that much worse. Dinner gets pushed back, stressing everyone out, and the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is cook.

Learn to love your crockpot. There are lots of great resources out there and wonderful recipes, even if you’re Paleo or whole-foods only. Just try it. You can even roast a chicken and make it into a few meals. No more martyr mom meals!


Embrace The New You


It’s going to take a few weeks…or months for you to find your new normal, but believe me when I say that you’re going to feel like a whole new mom. I’m nowhere near perfect, and I have days where I find myself falling back into old habits.

And that’s okay-because I recognize it. By seeing it, I can shift my focus and make sure that I’m genuinely spending time on myself so that I can be a better mom. Yes, my kids are my life and my heart…but to be the best me, I need to care for me. And you do to.

What do you do to ensure you have time for yourself? Share with me!

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