Imagine this: you’re leaving for a weekend (or maybe just an evening) away from your kid, and as you try to get out the front door you’re met with an absolute meltdown. They’re grabbing you, begging you not to go, with tears and snot streaming down their face. You eventually go, but the occasion is spoiled as you’re consumed with mom guilt. You’re constantly checking your phone, asking the caregiver for updates on how your little one is coping. When you come home, you don’t even feel recharged because of how guilty you feel for upsetting your child. We’ve all been there, and it’s a horrible feeling, but Dr. Becky has a reframe for parents that can help your mental health in more ways than one.

The Good Inside author is a guru when it comes to parenting—both on how to handle situations with our children and on how to handle situations for ourselves. In her latest viral video, the mother of three expertly explains why spending time away from your kids actually makes you a good parent.

“I just left my son screaming and crying when he was protesting, ‘Why do you have to go away with friends for the weekend? Why can’t you take me with you? I don’t see you enough!’ And here I am at the train station about to get on a train to go to meet my friends, and I want to share with you how I’m processing this,” Dr. Becky says. “Of course my first reaction was, ‘Oh my goodness am I a horrible parent?’ Right? We have that motherhood is martyrdom narrative so deep in us that when our kids protest the moments that we’re actually taking care of our non-caregiver self—all the other parts of us—we worry we’re doing something wrong.” 

“But here’s the thing: Kids don’t need selfless martyrs. Kids need sturdy leaders,” she continues, “and do you know what I know? Me spending some time with my girlfriends—us spending time talking about things other than our kids; taking care of ourselves and connecting about all the things that we love and all the different things that light us up that don’t have to do with caregiving—is critical to my mental health and my ability to show up for my kid. I am allowed to make decisions for myself; I’m allowed to set boundaries; I’m allowed to meet my needs; and here’s the thing, my son is allowed to be upset about it.” 

“His upset feelings don’t mean I made a bad decision, and my decision that I believe is good doesn’t get rewarded with his celebratory feelings,” the psychologist points out. “So I want you to remember that. You’re allowed to take care of yourself. Kids don’t need selfless martyrs, kids need sturdy leaders.”

In addition to time away being beneficial to our mental health, a fellow mom pointed out in the comments how it’s also valuable in helping shape our children’s views on meeting their own needs. “We don’t want to raise kids who think they need to sacrifice who they are in order to be a caregiver/parent,” she wrote. “The best way to do that is to model how to take proper care of ourselves.”

Of course, rewiring your brain to frame the situation differently is easier said than done. There’s bound to be times where you do something for yourself and still feel self-critical (even Dr. Becky admitted that feeling is a reactionary response for herself), but “good parents spend time away” is a healthy mantra to live by—and repeat to yourself when you need some help remembering. Filling our own cup is just as important as filling our kids’.