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I'm Tired of Feeling Guilty Because I Want to Slow Down With My Kids

Photograph by Twenty20

This past summer went by at lightning speed, even though we stayed home a lot. Glancing at other people's social media and seeing their trips to the beach and water parks left me feeling a little sad. In past summers, I've always tried to cram it all in, but this year I felt a shift—I just didn't have it in me.

I started feeling less-than because we were staying in more often than not. But the thing is, we were enjoying it. It was one of the most relaxed summers we've ever had as a family.

Lying around, reading all afternoon, after my son and I went to the library, and serving cereal for dinner was the best. I got so sick of feeling bad about not wanting to pack my kids in the car and drive for almost an hour to the beach, unpack everything, have a day in the sun, then pack everything back up along with 5 pounds of sand in the car. I looked over at my three kids, who were feeling happy, content and fulfilled. I could tell by the look on their face and their body language they were exactly where they wanted to be.

So, I decided something: I'm done feeling guilty if we decide to rent a movie instead of go out or skip the library reading hour and just go at our convenience. After all, I'm the one who puts pressure on myself to feel like I should do all the things and if I don't, I'm failing my kids.

Where did this come from? It's a case of FOMO and dread all at the same time. But isn't it a bit wrong to show our kids it's normal and fine to do things we have no desire doing just because everyone else is?

Isn't it a bit wrong to show our kids it's normal and fine to do things we have no desire doing just because everyone else is?

I think love is measured by the actual love and attention we give our children, not by all the events we take them to.

Are we really missing out if we have to bribe our kids to get dressed, then exhaust them by overdoing it and force them to pose for a picture as we try to manufacture a magical moment when we'd all rather stay in our pajamas a little longer and slow down?

I'm not saying it's not good to get out, see people and go on adventures. But I am sick of feeling like I suck because I don't want to go to every outdoor concert, festival, fair or party. I don't know when I started putting this pressure on myself, but it's real and I know I'm not the only mother who feels it.

Motherhood is hard enough without putting this kind of stress on ourselves. After I decided to ignore the voice in my head that was pulling me away form what I truly wanted to do, I felt so much happier and so did my kids.

We all know when we feel stressed and overwhelmed and like we need a break. That feeling flows onto the rest of the family. By saying "no" more often and letting go of that guilt and realizing we don't need to join in or keep our kids busy all the time, we are creating memories that are just as good, if not better.

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