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Why farm moms who always put themselves last shouldn’t

You know how when you’re on an airplane and the stewardess demonstrates the oxygen mask and instructs you to put your own mask on before helping your children? That’s as true on land as it is in the air.

As simple as the concept seems and as much sense as it makes, it’s hard for moms. Our children are our first priority. Period. If we don’t take care of ourselves, though, we won’t have anything left to give them.

The wild years

When kids are small and need constant supervision, it’s hard to find time for yourself. You can’t just ignore their screams because you want to read a book. I had three sons in four years, and for nearly a decade, the only “me time” I got was in the bathroom.

During those wild years, I relied on my husband or my parents to watch the boys for a little bit every now and then so I could go get a haircut, or meet a friend for coffee, or just sit for a minute without having to do anything for anybody. I came back refreshed, more patient, and a better mom.

I remember thinking, “I will miss the sweet chaos that is such a major part of my life right now. I would never wish this time away, because it’s precious. But sometimes I just need a minute.”

Was that being selfish? I don’t think so. It didn’t take long until the boys were old enough to entertain themselves for an hour while I painted my toenails, drank a cup of coffee, and listened to music in my bedroom. When I came back downstairs, I would be more relaxed and energized, and I didn’t feel like every single minute of my life was lived for someone else.

Besides, it was good for them to fend for themselves for a minute, and I was right upstairs if they really needed me.

They grow up

When my boys were pre-teens and young teenagers, finding time for myself was challenging in a whole new way. They needed me to drive them to sports or play practice, to help with algebra, and to listen to them practice their instruments.

Now that two of my boys are in college and the youngest is a junior in high school, I find myself with more “me time” than I’d like some days. Yes, I still have plenty to do, but I no longer have three little boys who need me for everything. I’m not the chauffeur. They don’t need a chaperone. They do their own laundry. Two of them don’t even live here nine months out of the year. They are responsible, independent young men who are good at figuring things out for themselves.

Today, instead of carving out alone time for myself, I cherish the times my boys still show signs of needing me. A phone call from a college boy who needs a pep talk before finals. A text asking if I’d like to read something they’ve written (always YES!). Excitement when they want me to listen to a new song they just heard. These are the things that make my day now. Turns out I need them more than they need me.

Treat yourself

Even though there are some days I’d give anything to have those three little boys waiting in their swimming trunks for me to drive them to the pool, I’m still grateful I found a way to take time for myself during those busy years. It made me a better mom, wife, friend, and human.

My challenge to you, farm moms of the world, is to treat yourself. I know it won’t happen every day or even every week, but carve out a little time for yourself. Go for a walk, read a book, or watch your favorite show. Do whatever helps you relax and feel like a real person. Toss any guilt you might feel right to the curb. You deserve a minute for yourself.

You’ll appreciate the chaos all the more when there’s a little calm thrown into the mix, and you don’t have to wait until your kids are grown to find it.

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