Putting ALL Your Energies Into Being A 'Super Mum' Could Be Affecting Your Health
It is said that Motherhood is one of the most difficult jobs on earth and I somewhat disagree.
I wouldn't compare it to, say, the work of a brain surgeon or a palliative care nurse. I wouldn't even compare the stress of Motherhood to the stress of an astronaut or a pilot if I'm honest.
For me, the difficulties and stress of Motherhood mostly come from the pressure I put upon myself to get everything done in a particular way, in a particular order, by a particular time and it all looking like I'm particularly amazing doing it.
I know I'm not alone in this from talking to other mothers - we try to be all things to all people at all times; the kids, our partners, friends and extended families, the community, school our kid's attend, work colleagues.. and it can have a dire effect on our health and wellbeing.
Who hasn't felt overcome by feelings of burnout, chronic fatigue, stress or anxiety and even depression at some point as a parent?
We wish there were more hours in the day as we lie awake in bed at night, thinking about that never-ending 'to do list' that we didn't completely get through today and wonder if we'll ever get on top of it.
Sometimes the stress can manifest itself in a short fuse; snapping at our partners or shouting at the kids, which in turn makes us even more upset with ourselves in the aftermath. We find comfort in too many cups of coffee to wake us up, too many glasses of wine to wind us down and eat all the wrong things in between.
Our weight fluctuates, our skin suffers and we leave our immune systems open to the threat of illness in the process.
So why aren't we taking better care of ourselves? If we are going to be able to get through that 'To Do List' in any sort of a calm way, then surely we must prioritise the maker of the list. If you want the car to get from A to B, you have to put fuel in the tank, right?
I became so anxious when I had my second child that I would literally stop being able to breathe. I didn't think I could keep on top of everything that needed to be done, as well as keep the kids fed and watered, as well as get Jacob to school, as well as get some mascara on.
There were moments where my breathing was so sharp and accelerated and painful, that I was afraid I was having a heart attack. I was suffering from stress.
The days when I was most ratty with the kids were the days when I was distracted trying to do 'my own stuff', i.e, clean the house, write something, bake something etc, and became irritated by the kid's actual needs. I was shouting because I just. wanted. to. wash. the. kitchen. floor!!
So I made a deal with myself. I didn't want to shout at the kids or feel anxious so I downgraded my daily 'to do list'. I figured I could realistically only do so much in a given day and if a job like changing all the bedclothes needed to wait another day or so then it did.
I also now make sure I get at least two walks per week that are just for me and Pearl the dog - I put the earphones in and go for it. The bit of a mental break from the on-going reminders and lists in my head, plus the fresh air, works wonders.
And finally, if Jacob says 'Mammy will you play with me?' while I'm in the middle of something, like an email or emptying the dishwasher, I have tried to condition myself NOT to respond with irritation. Instead I stop what I'm doing and respond with 'of course I will!' instead. Because isn't hanging out with a four-year-old much more fun than the stoopid dishes anyway?
It's not a perfect solution, and I don't get it right every day. Sometimes, the days when I think I am the least stressed are the days when I surprise myself by losing my patience out of nowhere. But I'm working on it.
So don't be so hard on yourself, strike one thing off your 'list' this week and replace it with 'something fun'. You, and only you, can decide precisely what that means for you.
If you liked this post, then you might also like Why Saying No Can Be Really Good For You
What do you do to stop yourself from feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do? Let us know at editorial@HerFamily.ie