Supermom, superwoman, doer of all things … whatever you call it, my overwhelmed mom friend was tired of it. All of it.
Sometimes moms are so busy doing everything perfectly for everyone else that they fall through the cracks. Supermom is not immune to mom burnout.
A friend of mine was this way: busy, working part-time outside of the home, helping her children when she was home, being the room mom for her child’s 5th grade class, volunteering in the preschool for her son, tutoring in the elementary school for her daughter, running her kids to soccer and dance. She cooked a fantastic meal every night, kept a perfectly clean house, and went out on dates with her husband every weekend.
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Her family life was so important, but she felt the need to be a super mom. She wanted to be a stay at home mom, a working mom, and a perfect social media mom all at the same time. The problem… she didn’t have time. Her quality time with her family was suffering, and so was she.
She called me often and made time for friends. She was superwoman.
Perfection … right?
The Overwhelmed Mom
We went out one afternoon, with our children and her new baby, to a local park. She asked if she could share something with me and I agreed (she also agreed that I could write about it today). We sat there, just the two of us talking, as our seven children were spending time playing around us.
That’s when I saw it… tears in her eyes. I could see them begin to fall and I could feel the stress in her hands as she reached out to mine.
“I can’t do it anymore. I am burnt out. I’m tired. I don’t even know if it is worth it. I’ve lost my joy. I feel like I’m asleep after 15 minutes on the job.”
She was ready to take off her cape and JUST BE MOM. She needed to stop being supermom, room mom, car-pool mom, and just be a mom.
There wasn’t a specific time that she noticed it happening, it just happened slowly, over time. She was still waking up with her baby; she was helping her older kids, she was helping friends. She was doing it ALL.
“I just started to lose my joy with every carpool, every night-time feeding, every workday, every request.”
“Time to head to soccer!”
“Did everyone get their lunches?
“Where is my other shoe?”
“I need to change the baby.”
“Do you have my bow?”
“Can Jake eat over for dinner?”
“Can Katie go with us to the movies?”
“Did you make dinner yet?”
“Can we have a snack?”
“Can you get me a glass of milk?”
“The baby is awake, mom. It is waking me up.”
When Supermom has Mom Burnout
“In the middle of all of it, I just lost my joy. I suppose that it was that I wanted to do everything 100% and because of that I just got burnt out. I kept adding more & more to my plate because I knew that I could handle it, but I didn’t think about HOW I would handle it.”
Mommy burnout is real. It can leave you feeling overwhelmed. It is hard to be a full time mom, full-time wife, full-time daughter, etc…
We talked about this for quite some time before we came to a few conclusions… doing too much for everyone leaves little for anyone. It had turned from just “overwhelmed” to true anxiety. She started to feel pressure building. She’s not alone. 18.1 percent (42 million) of American adults live with anxiety disorders – this includes busy moms who are juggling babies and young children; being a wife; working; the many stresses of this role. Overwhelmed by many responsibilities and lack of time to herself.
She and I had talked about some actionable things that helped her, things that I could share here.
How to Stop Being Supermom
Seek Help. Sometimes therapy for moms can be so helpful. A mental health professional can see the way out even if we can’t. They can suggest things that we haven’t even considered. Our emotional health is so very important! Counseling for moms can be just what the doctor (and our minds) ordered to help us realize that we can let go of everything except what is important. I suggest talking to a licensed marriage and family therapist if you feel overwhelmed.
I understand that this can be a struggle at first, finding help. Again, she isn’t alone on this. Approximately 96.5 Million Americans live in areas where there are shortages of mental health providers. (According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services estimates). Visits with a therapist often require regular appointments that can take up a lot of time, traveling to and from, when moms are already struggling with busy schedules and not enough time.
She now has her family helping her with planning (we do this, too!). She even took my advice to order her groceries online, which was huge for her! I didn’t think she’d ever do this & it is just so easy. 🙂
She cooks 3 crock-pot meals a week.
Her entire family cleans together.
She volunteers once a month in the classroom, instead of weekly or daily.
She doesn’t feel the need to cook elaborate meals nightly, but does simple meals or crockpot meals through the week and then does one big meal on Sunday.
She has limited her kids to one sport per season.
She and her husband go out for breakfast once a week instead of a date-night. Her kids are in school and she uses one of her volunteering days for this. She drives to his work and they go for an hour.
She puts her kids to bed 20 minutes earlier (and on a consistent M-F 8:00 bedtime schedule) and takes that time to read a novel that she loves, as a way to decompress each day.
Inspiration for the Recovering Supermom
I wanted to share a few quotes about stress with you because stress can feel like a million bricks on your shoulders if you don’t handle it well.
“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day, but if we do each thing calmly and carefully, we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.” ~Viggo Mortensen
“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” ~David Allen.
“We can easily manage if we only take each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday’s burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.” ~ unknown
Today, take your day and do what you can. Then stop doing that and look at those little faces that look up at you. Look at those little eyes watching you. Look at them and smile and enjoy them. If you listen to your children and love them, you will come out ahead, and they will be better for it.
They will not remember how much you did in their classroom, how much you cooked for dinner, how much you drove them around… they will remember how you talked to them, how you played with them, how you listened to them.
Fast forward three months→> My friend is refreshed and renewed. She has taken on the attitude of “love those that you love and don’t sweat the small stuff”.
You can’t do it all. No one can. BUT… you can do some things well. You can take care of your family and yourself.
Don’t be SUPERmom… just be THEIR mom. It is worth it.