I am a mother, wife, and business owner and have worked hard to fine balance so I am first and foremost myself. It was very important for me from the very beginning that owning my own business and raising a family (which all happened within 3 months of each other 7 years ago) would be the perfect combination of balance. So I took a very different approach than most business owners. I knew as a new mom that I didn’t want to spend 40+ hours a week growing a business, because I wanted to have time to see my kids grow up, so I never opened my doors longer than 30 hours a week. I also knew that I didn’t want to be only mom, I needed to still remain Ali, so self-care was always at the top of my list. Over the years I’ve maintained this balance and even considered myself pretty damn good at it. Sure I had a week here and there where things went a little haywire, but I always could get back in my groove and fine peace with all the hats I wore. I even gave a few talks here and there to local mom groups and was always giving tips and ideas how my patients could achieve balance. Then COVID-19 happened and a shelter in place order happened so fast I didn’t have time to really figure out a new normal.
Like many panic mode set in quick and I was faced with all the questions and feels. How am I going to homeschool and keep my business open, how am I going to pay the bills, how am I going to pay my employees, how how how? None of these how’s though, were How am I going to take care of myself. I went into fight or flight mode and did what I did best created a new schedule, a new routine, but it lacked my self-care routine. Not at first, but slowly, so slowly in fact that I didn’t notice it at first. I was too busy…too busy being mom, wife, teacher, friend (to my kids who could no longer see theirs), doctor; that I forgot to be Ali. I decreased my work hours even more so that I could devote more time to make sure my kids were getting the needed time for schooling, but in doing this I didn’t save time for my CEO time that enabled me to be a doctor and business owner without those 2 interfering with each other. I now had to keep my kids focused on school, while not having the social interaction with peers they both loved. I had to be a referee for the two of them, who were spending too much time together and getting very annoyed with each other. And I had to step into a friend role for each of them, so that they had some sort of human interaction that was not in a parent/child role. With all this I lost balance.
I didn’t realize it at first, because I was to busy taking everything one day at a time and just trying to do everything that I could to normalize what was going on for my family. But I started noticing things about 3 weeks ago. I first started to realize my balance was gone when I reached out to a friend, who I was suppose to be a guest speaker for her mom’s group, and asked her to reschedule the talk. I told her I didn’t feel like I could give a talk because I didn’t want to add another thing on my plate right now. After we talked and decided to postpone the talk, I really asked myself if it was because I didn’t want to add another thing or I felt like I couldn’t give a talk on balance when I didn’t feel like I had any balance in my life. Then I started hoping that my husband would forget that Mother’s Day was coming up so that I didn’t have to spend a day with my kids “pampering” me and pretend that I was excited to wear their homemade jewelry and eat their breakfast in bed smorgasbord. Then my dear friend sent a message a week before Mother’s Day and suggested a Mother’s Day hike without the kids…and I immediately thought wow, when was the last time I did anything by myself, for myself? The answer in 7 weeks was nothing. So I agreed and thought morning Mother’s Day hike with friends and no kids, I could get behind that and then spend the rest of the day refreshed and ready to be “pampered” by my kids. As the week went on I kept having this anxious feeling that a few hour hike was not going to be enough, and yesterday I told my husband that this Mother’s Day I was taking the day off. I was going to wake up, hike with my friends and spend the whole day gone. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I was going to focus on me and fill my mind, body and soul back up. He agreed and I spent most of Saturday thinking about what I was going to do with my day. I won’t bore you with what I did, because after the hike it really wasn’t exciting, but it was what I needed to re-center myself and to really reflect on where I lost myself. I will say that this time was partially spent figuring out how to get my balance back and putting a little me time back on my schedule. I had planned to stay away from the house until well after the kids’ bedtime, but felt more like myself around 5 and came back home to have a special Mother’s Day dinner well planned out by my husband.
I will say that the whole day, I never felt mom guilt that I wasn’t spending Mother’s Day with my kids, I only felt proud of myself for recognizing that I needed space, and that I couldn’t let that space go back to not existing. The truth is that even as a mother, I am first and foremost myself, and when I lose site of that I’m not the good mother that I know I am. We all have been in a weird place, whether you’re a parent, not a parent, mom, dad, brother, sister, child, these are uncharted waters and in all of this chaos many of us are forgetting to take care of ourselves. We can’t be fully functional humans without first acknowledging ourselves, so I give you permission. Permission right now to stop taking care of others and the many things you might be doing now, stop being all the things, and just be you. Find yourself, keep yourself, and hopefully you can find the balance you need (even if you don’t think you need it).
Dr. Ali Schweitzer