I’ve found that there is a certain irony to being a stay at home parent. On the one hand, sometimes it can be overwhelming and it can feel like you never get any time to yourself away from the baby. On the other hand, when you do manage some time away you just end up thinking about them and wanting to be back with them. After spending long periods of time caring for Brody I often find myself thinking, “taking care of a baby is really tiring, I could use a break and some time to myself”. But as soon as I am away from Brody I end up thinking about him and missing him.
As I discussed in my last blog post, I think it’s important to take breaks away from the baby. But even though I think it is important to take breaks I find that I often feel hesitant or even guilty about taking time for myself. Part of the reason I’m sometimes hesitant to spend time away from Brody is that I really value the time we spend together and I want to make the most of it, especially while he is so young. I know he won’t be a baby forever and I want to make sure we get to spend a lot of time together as a family while he is still little. I also sometimes feel guilty about wanting to have some time to myself. Even as a write this I feel guilty about saying that there are times when I need a break; it’s as though by taking some time to myself I am not living up to my obligations as a parent. Shouldn’t I want to spend time with Brody? Why should I need a break? Although I know taking a break is perfectly acceptable and beneficial for me and Brody, I still feel a little guilty for even saying that I need a break sometimes. And I’m not talking about long breaks either; maybe at most a few hours to meet a friend, run some errands or go for a bike ride.
Ironically, the more time I spend with Brody the less acceptable it seems to spend time apart from him. I don’t remember feeling guilty while I was working full time. I think that having a job and another set of responsibilities made it easier to recognize that it’s okay to have multiple priorities. Maybe as a stay at home dad I have become so accustomed to caring for Brody and putting his needs first that I have forgotten that I have my own needs. I spend so much time putting Brody’s needs first that anything not related to him seems frivolous or selfish.
I try not to let these guilty feelings stop me from taking time for myself. I still try to go out from time to time for a short break. While I’m out I often think to myself, “maybe I should have stayed home to spend more time with Brody,” or “maybe I should go back home now so I can spend more time with Brody.”
When I think about it rationally I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, and I know that devoting all my time to Brody is unstainable and not good for me or Brody. So I do my best to make time for myself and I try to remind myself that to take care of Brody I also have to take care of daddy. And I try to remind myself that one of the benefits of being away from Brody for a few hours is that I am even more excited to see his smiling face when I get home.