Without a doubt, being a mom is a wonderful blessing that you wouldn’t trade for the world. It’s one hundred percent true what they say, the love you have for your children is unlike anything you’ve ever felt before. To be perfectly honest, though, parenting is hard. Toppled with the added pressure to also be a great healthcare provider for your patients, as you kiss your baby goodnight one last time and quietly close their bedroom door, on most nights you trudge down the hall feeling physically and emotionally drained.
In floods a rush of mom-guilt for not spending enough time enjoying your child today, followed by the agony of worrying whether or not your employer is considering letting you go for a sub-par job performance. The constant tug of war between feeling like a bad mom and a failing nurse practitioner can be exhausting.
Unfortunately there’s not a one-size-fits-all method for balancing both of your roles as a mom and an NP. If there were, the hashtag mom-guilt wouldn’t exist. The good news is that even though being a working mom is hard, you don’t have to accept the guilt that often comes with it.
Here are five words of wisdom for the nurse practitioner mom who needs encouragement (we all need it at times!).
Do what works for you and your family, and forget the naysayers
When it comes to parenting the “right way”, everyone’s an expert and if their methodology doesn’t work for you, you’re mom-shamed into thinking something is wrong with either your kids or your abilities as a parent. There’s no reason you should feel guilted into a parenting style that you’re not comfortable with and that creates more stress and chaos for you, simply for the sake of heeding the advice of a well-meaning Facebook friend or because it’s what “the experts” recommend.
If co-sleeping is the only thing that insures a full night’s rest for the whole family and you’re comfortable with it, by all means, do it. If breastfeeding your baby to sleep rather than laying them down drowsy is what makes both mom and baby feel happy and fulfilled after a long day apart, go for it. Stop second guessing your abilities as a parent. Do what works for you and your family and don’t feel like you have to give an explanation to anyone who asks otherwise.
Allowing yourself to be flexible and adaptable doesn’t mean you’re failing
Perhaps the only thing that changes faster than medicine itself are your children and their needs. Just as you have to continuously keep up with the newest skills and techniques in your NP practice, you also have to adapt your parenting methods in order to keep up with your ever-changing child. And on especially busy days, you have to be flexible. If you’re a strong type A personality, this can be hard; abrupt changes in your routine can make you feel out of control. But what’s worse is trying to force a schedule on your child that just isn’t working any longer or beating yourself up over things like stopping for fast food because you had to work late. Being adaptable in life is so important; in fact, it’s one of the most essential skills needed in order to survive. It doesn’t mean you’re failing, it means you’re surviving; which some days, is all you can do in order to make it until bedtime.
It’s okay to say ‘no’
If you’re a people pleaser, saying no can be painful. But trying to please one person may mean you’ll let another down in the process. It is impossible to make everyone happy, yet we still try by always saying yes and filling every empty space in our calendar because we have a fear of missing out (#FOMO) and a fear of rejection. We’re afraid of missing an opportunity to look good at work, so we say yes to every extra shift that comes our way. We don’t want to look bad in front of other parents and are afraid of our kids missing out, so we say yes to every birthday party we’re invited to, sometimes even attending two or more in one Saturday.
It’s great to put others’ needs before your own, and it’s necessary as a parent, but saying yes to everything that comes your way when you’re already drained pushes you to live beyond your emotional limits. This often causes you to sacrifice quality time with the most important people in your life. When you say no, you don’t need to feel bad about it or worry about giving a good reason for why you can’t. Besides, saying no because you want to be with your family is always reason enough.
There’s nothing wrong with a day of rest
Unless you take a kid-free vacation, you’ll probably never feel well-rested again as a mom, but when you’re overwhelmed with all of your responsibilities as a mother and practicing NP, your stress level is bound to be exacerbated if you’re sleep deprived or are not taking time to give yourself a day to rest. It’s okay to let the kids have too much screen time and ignore housework so you can vege on the couch Sunday afternoon! Taking time to relax doesn’t mean you’re not lazy or a bad parent. It’s vital in order to feel your best.
Stop being so hard on yourself
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be perfect; you can’t achieve something that doesn’t exist. At the end of the day, we are all human and we all fall short (some days more than others). Being hard on yourself isn’t going to make things better for you; it’s disempowering and keeps you stuck in negativity. Instead, make a conscious effort to focus on the positives, and give yourself a little grace.