“Burnout comes from trying to give what I do not possess.” ~ Parker Palmer
My voicemail is ringing from the office. My son is attached to my leg. The dishes are calling. That just-for-fun book is getting dusty. Do you ever feel like you are pulled in many directions?
I try to spread out my energy. I want to be present for each person and task. I don’t want to give anything up. Yet, I know that if I try to do it all, I will grow a second head. And, Grumpy Mom will start roaring!
It’s time we bust down the myths that hold supermom’s status. Quick, before our ugly heads rise up again.
Which Supermom Myths Do You Believe?
I think there are several supermom myths that contribute to mom burnout:
- Hurry Myth: “I can do it all, if I just cram more into my day.”
- I almost always feel hurried to get somewhere or get something done at a certain time. And, being a therapist requires me to be a great time manager on my fullest days. Cramming more in doesn’t make me more productive. When I hurry myself, I am more forgetful, less present, and more irritated. I’d rather enjoy the moment more. What about you?
- Protector Myth: “Good moms are always prepared and a step ahead of others’ needs.”
- Did you know that when you become a mom, there is a credo that we say to ourselves? Here it is: “As a mom, we need to possess super-human ability to take care of others. We must know what others need even when they don’t know themselves. We must have everything ready for them to be successful. We must protect them from failure and rejection.” How did we get so off track in trying to prevent others from learning from their mistakes?
- Martyr Myth: “No one else will do it.”
- This one may be true, but you’ll never know if you always do it. When my husband asks me what the kids should wear and eat, I realize that I had taken over almost everything regarding raising our kids. Women have almost always had the primary child-rearing responsibility. Yet, I don’t think we are the only ones who know how to take care of kids. Are we ready to let our spouses try something, even if it isn’t how we would do it?
In doing research, I found that most articles praise moms for doing it all, citing that moms would make 6-figure incomes if they are compensated for their work. I am sure this is true, yet sometimes I would like to take my super-mom cape off! Instead, I found out that I “bundle”, meaning I try to combine meaningful connections with everyday tasks. There have to be other options for moms to prevent burnout and resentment.
How Do We Prevent Mom Burnout?
I first realized that mom burnout is a real problem when I learned that many women take antidepressants to be less angry with their kids and spouses. While medication is always an option, what’s wrong with saying no?
Most articles on home-family balance promise ways that you can do it all. I’m going to propose something different, a new way to look at balance: DON’T do it all. While some days are better-balanced days than others, let me share what works for me in preventing mom burnout:
- Set realistic daily goals
- Each day I ask myself: what is realistic to get done today? I know that if it’s a work day, then I don’t include much on my to do list. On other days, I include what is important for me to get done that day. This may include cleaning and errands, yet I also include space for connecting with others and recharging my batteries.
- Carve out downtime
- I am more productive when I take a break. I enjoy the moment more when I slow down. These seem like common sense, but it is so hard to embrace just being still for many moms. I “trick” myself into downtime by writing it on my to do list. For me, finding a pocket of sunshine includes: reading, yoga, nature, or music. What recharges your batteries?
- Say no to resentment
- This is the hardest one. When I find myself blaming someone else for my tension level, I take a look at where I can say no. For instance, if I pick up one more toy before I go to bed, I will resent my kids in that moment. Instead I can not pick it up, and hold them accountable or let it go. Liberate yourself, and stop resentment from building.
Please share what helps you say no to the supermom myth.
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Psychology, Philosophy, & Real Life
Photo Credit: Disfranz