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Weekends, guilt and manicures

Categories: Balancing Act


As I was typing at work earlier today I looked down at my nails and realized that I badly needed a manicure. I rarely go for professional manicures — I’m a cheapskate, and besides, they feel like a waste because the polish chips in a day - but I’ve had a few crazy weeks of working and being sick and I am too lazy to do it on my own. So I decided that it’s a must-do this weekend.

Except… I have weekend working mom guilt.┬áBecause I work a lot during the week and don’t get to see my daughter for too long during the day, on weekend I like to stay basically glued to her. I know this won’t be forever and she will soon definitely not like that, but for now, weekends are family time. And even though I realize that a few hours away from my kiddo for some “me” time might not be the worst thing in the world, I feel really guilty about taking time away from spending together on weekends. Maybe this sounds silly,┬ábut maybe I’m not the only one? (Boy, I am hoping one of you out there just nodded.)

One of the things I’ve been terrible about since I became a mom is taking time that’s just for me. I don’t mean this as some martyr admission — I actually think it’s really stupid. Because I don’t do it enough I am more stressed and tired than I probably would be and I’m sure my husband and daughter wouldn’t mind a less stressed and tired mom. But while I’ve figured out how to deal with my mommy guilt (for the most part), I’ve replaced it with an adult version of separation anxiety – if I am not working and my daughter is awake, I feel terrible about being anywhere else but with her.

Does anyone else feel this way? Are you familiar with working mom weekend guilt? Have you found a mental trick that helps you rationalize taking time for yourself on weekends?

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14 comments so far...

  • Any reason why she can’t tag along for your manicure? She might just love it.

    I take my kids with me for almost every personal errand. I’m single, and I really don’t like leaving them with a sitter any more than I have to. Generally, they are great and it’s fun and all, but it does make everything take longer and such. For those few necessary things that the girls can’t sit in on, I do some impressive juggling. But lots of things just ain’t happening right now. Like using the fancy spa gift card that my sister gave me long ago.

    I do feel better about leaving my kids with family than with non-family. Somehow being with Aunt S. is more about family bonding than motherly neglect. But I find it difficult to be a “taker” and only rarely make such requests on my own behalf.

    SKL  |  July 24th, 2009 at 9:14 pm

  • How’s THIS for crazy: I’m home full-time with my two daughters (ages almost 3 and just turned 5)–I do occasional part-time freelancing and consulting during evening hours–and I STILL feel guilty about time to myself on weekends! And I’m with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!!! So, maybe it’s just a mom thing. Sigh!

    Shannon  |  July 25th, 2009 at 11:18 am

  • OK, Shannon, I have to say - that IS crazy and probably tells us that’s a mom thing:)

    Nataly  |  July 26th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

  • I think it is a mom thing. I tend to take my son out with me for most errands on the weekend. I think it’s an important part of his development to be exposed to the grocery and the dry cleaning, but I also love spending that time for him.

    HOWEVER, I do ‘brake for pedicures” every month during the summer. The key is to plan it at least somewhat around the naptime (if your child is still napping). Not sure what I’ll do once he stops napping, but I’ll figure something out!

    Brenda  |  July 26th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

  • I feel guilty all the time whenever I am away from by 2.5 yr old son.. I always thought the guilt will go away when he grows but its not happening….
    All the visits to the parlor or any shopping trip or even a after office coffee leads me to a guilt trip!

    Akanksha  |  July 27th, 2009 at 1:49 am

  • Pre-parenthood, I had my hair done every two weeks, a pedicure every month and a massage every month.

    I haven’t had a massage since 2007 - same for a pedicure. And I get my hair cut every month and a half if I’m lucky - at about the point I just. Can’t. Take it. Anymore.

    Part of it is financial - these things cost money better spent on food, diapers and other baby items…but it’s also a matter of time. I can’t come home and tell her father, “Oh, BTW, I’m off to get my nails done!” after he spends all day with her to begin with. Well, I could, but that’s not fair to either of them after a long day. We don’t have family in the area who can pop in for a couple of hours to give us a break…so, these things have just gone the way of the dodo.

    I know it’s not healthy for me - especially (and mostly) the massage. I carry stress in my lower back and that massage staved off a lot of pain that has now become chronic. My physician has told me that between the baby and not getting that done anymore, the most he can do is prescribe muscle relaxers and motrin. I had a prescription pain killer that I got after a trip to hospital for it (against my will - the trip and the script) but the medication is made of fail and doesn’t do anything for me so I don’t take it.

    I just found out that there are massage services here where I work. I need to stop working through lunch and maybe get one soon. Problem is I keep forgetting about that. [sigh]

    Phe  |  July 27th, 2009 at 5:45 am

  • Am I the only mother in the world who does NOT feel guilty all the time? I don’t mean to belittle anyone’s feelings, but jeez people, come on! At some point, can’t you just CHOOSE not to feel guilty? Does anything good come of it? That is a real question.

    I get a mani/pedi every 3 weeks. And I don’t feel one iota of guilt for the time I spend on myself while my daughter plays with her father.

    Robyn  |  July 27th, 2009 at 11:34 am

  • To Robyn’s point, I can only speak for myself, but I don’t think what I’m feeling is “guilt.” I am kind of jealous of time with my kids. There are so many things I want to do with/for them, and there is so little time to do them. They enjoy being with their aunties, nanny, etc. I just get more pleasure / satisfaction out of being with my kids than out of almost anything else. If I didn’t work full-time, I might not feel so much urgency to spend “every possible minute” with them - but then again, maybe I would.

    SKL  |  July 27th, 2009 at 11:41 pm

  • Oh man, that’s me!! I’ve not read the others’ comments yet, but I’m guessing there’s a lot of women out there that agree with you.

    I, too, work full time and am away from my sweet, little boy 4+ days a week. He has an early bedtime, so, if I’m lucky, I get 2 hours a night with him - on the days I work. (I am lucky enough to work from home on Mondays, so I do get that day with him!) So, on Saturdays and Sundays I do nothing without my son and that basically leaves no time for me. My husband, who works FT as well, frolics about without a care in the world. But, all I want to do - when not working - is be with my son.

    I so desperately want to be a SAHM that any extra money (which isn’t much!) we have goes to savings - hoping that one day I can use that money in savings as a supplement to my staying at home.

    So, needless to say I don’t get pedicures anymore. I never get manicures - for your reasons. The paint always chips in a day. Waste of money. I rarely get my hair cut. And when I do, it’s a sub-par cut from Great Clips.

    Anyway, I could go on for days. I feel your pain and suffer from the exact guilt you suffer from. So, I have no advice. Anyone else?

    CBI  |  July 28th, 2009 at 9:35 am

  • I try to run my errands (read: pedicure/haircut/yoga/coffee with girlfriend) when my son naps or after bed so I can maximize weekend time with him. My husband and I work together to make time for activities we enjoy because we find value in spending time with our son individually. We also think there is a positive effect on him from us being less stressed.

    NW  |  July 28th, 2009 at 12:36 pm

  • You said it, sister! And, no you’re not alone. Not only do I feel guilty for the time spent away from family, that when I am getting my mani-pedi, I’m constantly thinking about the things I could or should be doing. Not what you’d call relaxing. On the upside, it really does make me appreciate my family and the time we have together. I’m always in search of that magic balance.

    amc  |  July 28th, 2009 at 3:22 pm

  • I feel exactly the same way. The weekend is family time. I know as my son, now 4.5, gets older this will be less true and so I am okay with it. I try to run errands, get haircuts, get manicures, etc. on my lunch hour. It is a nice break in the day. Gives me some time to myself. And I don’t feel like I’m taking time away from my family.

    Having said that, my husband and I both occasionally take time to do things by ourselves. My rationalization is that it is good for each parent to have one-on-one time with our child. Just as I think it is good for him to visit with grandparents and aunts and uncles by himself occasionally, even overnight. They want to be with him and have his attention and that works better when mom and dad are not there. And these small breaks keep me from being stressed the rest of the time.

    Shelly in Austin  |  July 29th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

  • I think its a working mom thing.. and to some extent its also our selfish needs to catch up on what the little one has learned the past week. My daughter is 18 months old.. and she is full of surprises.. and we call her a little copy cat.. since she pretty much repeats what we say! So weekend for me.. is to test and try all the things her teacher told me she did at day care.. its basically us re-kindling the bond.
    Sincerely, i try to stick to 40 hour weeks.. and start my day early to be home earlier.. i do get enough time every evening with her. But weekday do get routine.. and hence weekend’s i have forgotten the adult need ot relaxation.. it means endless hours in park, in zoo, in baby pools and yes.. the me time for me equals catching the afternoon nap with my little one :-) its two hours of pure bliss!

    GNSD  |  July 31st, 2009 at 9:41 am

  • I totally feel this way. I often count the actual hours that I see my daughter during the week and always get very down about how much time I don’t get to see her while she is awake and alert at the babysitter. I work a fairly low key job and the hours are not bad but still - working just a 40 hour weeks makes 40 hours away from my little girl.

    My way to cope: I think about my own mom and how much I love her. She means the world to me and I know that she will always be there. She has always worked. This assures me that my own daughter can love and appreciate all that I’m doing for her as well as create some amazing memories even if I am working full time. For those whose mom stayed home with them, know that there are fully functioning adults who had amazing childhoods dispite the fact that their mom worked.

    Another coping strategy is to talk to moms that stay home. They are not always spending more quality time with their kids. Often, they are too frazzled to really enjoy this time and constantly trying to carve out adult time. Sure, there are lots of stay at home moms that love what they do, but I am sure most often wonder what life could be if they were working. The grass really is always greener on the other side.

    Julie  |  August 12th, 2009 at 1:37 pm