None of us are immune to it. And many of us--if not most--fall prey to the pressure of being a supermom. This is the ability to do it all, do it all well and always with a smile. Not only is this not realistic, but it certainly can be exhausting and even harmful to our health.
While 70 percent of moms with children under age 18 are trying to juggle the work/life balance, and the other 30 percent are trying to attain the new higher standard of the stay-at-home-mom-role, we all feel some level of this pressure. Although not easy, it is time to say adios to supermom and accept that she is no longer the goal.
We don’t expect anyone else to be perfect, so why do we put this pressure on ourselves? Research shows that women who expect and accept that being a mom and handling all of the mom roles will be challenging, have a lower chance of depression when they reach the age of 40 than women who expect to be able to handle everything with ease. Go easy on yourself and take pride in all that you do. Underpromise and overdeliver is a tried-and-true way to set yourself up for success.
Mom guilt is a common thread that runs through all of us. Half of working moms feel guilty that they don’t spend enough time with their children, and half of stay-at-home moms feel guilty that they are not contributing financially. And most moms in general feel guilty about the house not being clean enough or raising their voice too frequently. But guilt takes a toll on us. Instead, we must try our best to be in the moment and accept that we are doing our best.
This can be particularly tough for a lot of moms, as it goes against the grain of being a supermom. However, it is key when trying to accept that you cannot add more hours to the day. Whether you outsource, ask for help or simply say “no,” it is vital to be able to pick and choose what is manageable to accomplish (within your new realistic expectations) and then give it your all.
We, as moms, are so tough on ourselves. As hard as it is to do, we need to try our best to forgive ourselves as we do the other people in our family and in our lives. Recognize that some moments are harder than others, and sometimes we won’t be proud of the way we handle things. But if we are doing the best we can, in each particular moment, we need to go easy on ourselves and practice forgiveness for those times we don’t meet our high mommy standards.
As supermoms, we are often focused on all of the many things we have to do (and do well) and not on being present and in the moment. Our children will not remember how many activities we were able to juggle or how many items we were able to check off our list. What they will remember is how special the time was that you spent together and the connection they felt with you. Keep this in mind next time you feel the weight of your “cape” on your shoulders and make the decision to put it in storage for a while and just be with your children.
Unless you have figured out a way to clone yourself (and if you have, please share), it is simply not possible to be everything to everyone in your life. No matter how much you want to be able to be the perfect mom, wife, employee or friend, it is important to set clear boundaries so you know what is reasonable for you to give without reaching the point of burnout. You might be surprised how people step up when you need to step back. Chances are it will be very refreshing to learn how much your kids can do on their own when you allow them to take on more responsibilities.
It seems as if we are often measured by those pesky little checks in boxes. Or maybe that is just how we have come to measure ourselves. Try your best to view your to-do-list as just that -- a list of things that need to get done to keep things moving so you can be present and enjoy your life. And if it’s a struggle for you to tuck away that foreboding list, make sure the top of your list always says: Make time for something that will make memories.
Who, me? Yes -- the person most often forgotten in the equation is YOU. As part of the modern day supermom culture, we are so busy doing for everyone else that we forget how to just BE for ourselves. Although easier said than done, taking even just a few powerful moments to put the focus back on you can reap great rewards. Whatever your pleasure, make sure you incorporate some on a regular basis to keep your sanity up and your stress level down.
It is always refreshing when you run into a mom who admits the challenges, owns up to the not-so-proud moments, can admit her children are not without flaws and simply vent. We often hide behind this veil of composure and feel like it is an admission of defeat if we show any weakness or lack of complete control. Remember, even the most “perfect” parents with the most “well-behaved” children lose it sometimes. Let your guard down and embrace the support.
Letting go of the supermom mentality might not be easy, but it will be liberating and fulfilling. And it will allow you to embrace at least some of the moments in the day, rather than rushing through them. Being a mom and mastering the juggle will be a challenge, and it will always have its rewards. But if you expect to do it all perfectly, the pressure will be palpable and the joy will be harder to come by.
Give yourself some leeway to be human and build in room for the error that accompanies this. Being a superhero looks a lot more glamorous than it actually is. So hang up your supermom cape and happily accept just being a really great mom.
More expert advice about Being a Better Parent
Photo Credits: Listen to your Mother - LA by Lisa Sjolund via Flickr; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com