Crystal Clancy is back for another guest blog post! She spoke at Mama Cafe yesterday, and we love having her insight.
FUN- the new “F” word!
“Yes, fun — the “F” word, my friends and I would call it, chiding one another to make sure to have some fun each day. We rarely succeeded; the needs of everyone else always got in the way”. From “A Year by the Sea” by Joan Anderson
This quote struck me as the way most moms (and probably dads, too!) probably feel. Why don’t we allow ourselves to have fun? Here are some excuses that I hear:
1) My own needs come last (AKA, “I don’t have time”) Somewhere along the way, either someone told you that your needs aren’t as important as everyone elses, or it was modeled to you that that was the case. Perhaps your own mother was the “martyr mom”, caring so much about everyone else that she was constantly depleted (and probably crabby!). Perhaps someone in your life told you that doing what you like is “selfish”, which carries a negative connotation. But have you heard the saying, “If mom (or dad, or wife, etc etc.) ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? This is true because if your own needs aren’t being met, it is carrying over into your other relationships, whether you want to admit it or not. It is likely leaving you feeling depleted and resentful.
2) I feel guilty when I try to relax. Similar to messages that we get from our family about putting our own needs last, we also can get messages from our families about being “productive”. We also get messages from society that we need to be getting things done: we should be working several hours a week, and when we’re not at work (if you leave the home for work) then you must be taking care of your house/kids/yard, etc. “Fun” has become a negative word that implies laziness to a point where you may try to relax, but then find yourself with eight million thoughts going through your head about what you “should” be doing.
3) My husband/wife/daughter/son/boss/mom/dad think that “having fun” is a bad thing. Perhaps someone in your life glares at you when you try to sit down and rest. Or you find yourself sitting for a quiet moment and your child needs you to watch them perform their new magic trick for you “right now”. Or perhaps you are relaying your weekend to your co-worker and you mention going out for a night with the girls/the guys and the co-worker says, “Oh, how nice for YOU” in a snarky tone.
When you find yourself feeling guilty or questioning if you are allowed to do something fun and unproductive, instead ask yourself what will happen if you continue to not have fun in your life? Picture someone you know who does not allow any fun, and ask yourself if that is who you would like to be. Is that person someone who you want to model to your partner or children? Start small and find some way to insert some fun into your life- a silly song played loudly in your car (instead of returning phone calls) or reading a chapter from a book instead of washing dishes right that moment. Graduate to bigger things, like a night out with your partner, friends or on your own!! Ask yourself how you feel after, and if it is refreshed, not resentful and even MORE productive, then it was worth it.
Crystal is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Divorce Mediator and Parenting Consultant in Apple Valley, MN. She specializes in reproductive mental health- infertility, loss, stillbirth, postpartum mood/anxiety disorders. She is also a divorce and post-decree mediator and parenting consultant.
Crystal is the Associate Director of Pregnancy and Postpartum Support MN (ppsupportmn.org). More importantly, she is a wife, mother of two, and a survivor of infertility and postpartum depression. She blogs at The Shrink Rap.