Does the plot of 'I Don't Know How She Does It?' sound familiar? Here's how to beat the stress.
In a recent Dear Abby column, a reader asked about a survey done years ago by her twin Ann Landers that queried "If you had it to do over again, would you still have kids?" The surprising majority answer back then was "no." The reader wondered what the responses would be like today. While women today aren't expected to become mothers, as they were historically, today becoming a mother often comes with the pressure of becoming a "supermom." Supermoms feel they need to juggle all the demands of family, work and relationships without grimace or failure.
Moms live in a world of constant juggling, constant interruption, and, in the words of a client, "no support staff when the computer breaks, an email must go out, or an errand run." In the words of this client, who left a high-paying PR job to be a stay-at-home mom: "My life used to be lines, with goals that were accomplished. Now I run around in circles all day, often feeling I have nothing to show for it." As A Stay-At-Home Mom, Do I Have A Say In Our Finances?
Talk to stay-at-home moms who've been asked at a party about work. Many will share how eyes glaze over in disinterest when the response is: "I am at home with my kids." Add to these stressors, a husband who has little understanding and appreciation for all his wife does or is unwilling to pull his weight at home. Working mothers face exhaustion, difficult coworkers and bosses, plus the constant worry about the children they leave at home or in daycare.
How do these stressors affect us? We overeat, do not exercise, and of course our sex life goes kaput, as does our intimacy with our partner, our confidence and our self-esteem. More and more, we see mothers suffering from the deadly disease of perfectionism. You assume that to "do it right," you must execute all tasks flawlessly and ignore the need for self-care. In turn, we see higher rates of exhaustion-related illnesses, depression, low self-esteem and partner-related issues, due to mother's burn out. Sarah Jessica Parker Juggles Love & Career In New Movie
What to do?
1. Pitch the "Supermommy" ideal. We must become our own loving moms to ourselves, caring for ourselves as well as we do for the others we love. Tell yourself, on a daily basis if need be, that no one or nothing is perfect, so you can stop trying to make it so.
2. Determine what's out of sync. Grab a piece of paper and create a pie chart. Separate all of the elements that require your attention and break them down by the percentage of time you contribute to them. Did YOUR time even make it onto the chart? When you see these numbers they might be a little startling and that's a good thing. When you create proportion, gentler expectations and add yourself to the list, you will see a reduction in stress, higher personal esteem and more quality time to connect with your children and partner. You will feel less scattered and have a renewed energy to put towards what really matters. Better said, you will have a calm that will allow you to be truly present with your family, leading to a deepening of connections with them.
3. Re-evaluate your idea of balance. How can you expect to be all things to all people, including yourself? The answer lies in the concepts of "balance" and "mindfulness." You must work to institute more realistic appraisals of what it means to be a "good mother" and value the concept, "Good enough IS good enough." Because this requires you to reevaluate your present practices, be kinder to yourselves and enact change, it can be terrifying. Remember that just because you are familiar with your routines, it doesn't mean that they work. Further, you have to reconcile the fact that balance means establishing some equilibrium in all the facets of your life, including self-care.
4. Stop accepting burnout in your life. A concept used to avoid professional burnout known as The Caring Cycle—the determination to balance psychological, physical, social, intellectual, sexual, and spiritual needs—is applicable. We must exercise, eat healthy meals, make time for friendships where we can trust as well as laugh, buffer or let go of relationships that drain and deplete, and do the things that will bring us balance, fulfillment and joy.
5. Reconnect with your partner. Toward this end, marvelous advice comes from DC-based marriage therapist Elisabeth LaMotte, who strongly urges "date nights" for committed couples. Implicit in this advice is how essential it is for couples to carve out time to talk, hear, understand, and respond fully to each other. 3 Ways Busy Moms Can Fit In Sexy Time (And Why It's Important)
Photo Credit: London Evening Standard