Avoiding Supermom Syndrome, or How Not to Be a Master Juggler
Every once in a while, some study comes out which says that moms should make X number of dollars (with X standing for some obscenely large number), with all of the jobs that we do. This is, of course, on top of whatever salary we make at our in- or out-of-the-house jobs. While no one is really going to pay us for cooking, cleaning, kid-chauffeuring, toilet-scrubbing, grocery shopping, teen-problem-listening, booboo-bandaiding, bug-killing and all of the other things we do as moms in addition to our day jobs, it’s nice to know that someone notices, right? It’s hard work keeping all of those balls in the air but, after all, someone’s gotta do it, and who better than mom?
Well, that’s one way to look at it, but this way of thinking can morph into Supermom Syndrome, or, in more severe cases, Mommy Martyrdom. Whether you work outside the home or not, you don’t have to do it all.
Go back and re-read that last sentence… I’ll wait.
There are a lot of articles and books out there about how to juggle work, home, kids and husband. A quick Google search will bring up advice on how to create schedules, how to fill “little minutes,” how to multi-task. The goal always seems to be getting more stuff done, and most of the time, it’s not even stuff that anyone wants us to do in the first place! We moms put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best. We feel guilty taking time off from work when the kids are sick. We feel guilty not baking birthday cakes from scratch. We feel guilty when the house isn’t spotless for company, when we let the kids watch too much TV, when we ask our husbands to pick up the slack. And it’s just not necessary.
You’ve heard the adage, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It doesn’t go, “if mama ain’t doing everything, nobody’s happy.” The secret to being happy is to take care of yourself! That doesn’t mean leaving the family home while you escape to Tahiti for a week (though it does seem tempting, doesn’t it?). It does, however, mean remembering that you have limits, and teaching your husband and children to work within them.
Sometimes, it means telling your spouse that you need him to take over dinner duty while you deal with baths and homework. Sometimes, it means assigning your pre-teen children a night of the week in which they’re responsible for dinner. It may entail teaching your younger children how to properly clean a toilet, and it definitely might require expecting your school-aged kids to unload the dishwasher before school. It might mean making set-in-stone monthly or bi-weekly dates with your friends, and it should probably include hiring a sitter (even one who lets the kids watch too much TV!) once in a while for a date out with your husband. It might mean hiring a maid to come in every other week. It can even include sending the hubby and kids to the grocery store on Saturday mornings while you relax, take a bath and watch DVR’d episodes of Glee (you’ve discovered MY secret!).
Don’t try to juggle it all. Do what you need to do at work, and spend time enjoying and caring for your family, but don’t become one of those mommy martyrs who never does anything for herself. If you are not happy, your family will pick up on it. Give them the benefit of a happy mama and wife, and take some time to let the balls drop. Teaching your family members to pick up some of the slack not only frees you up, but also teaches them important life skills.
How do you make sure that you’re taking care of yourself as much as you’re taking care of your family members?
This came at the right time for me! I have recently been really stressed trying to keep the house clean, packing and trying to find a house. My husband (who works out of town during the week) keeps telling me to ask for help but I never do! One of the things I do make sure I have help on is the house cleaning though. My kids are 5 and almost 7. They empty the dishwasher, of course clean their rooms, they help me keep the living area clean by picking up their toys before bed and they take turns feeding the dog.