Michigan mom and therapist Erica Carulli shares her advice for rising above a common but unhealthy pattern local moms are experiencing.
MICHIGAN — Work a full time job like you don’t have children and raise children like you don’t have a full time job.
This is the narrative moms, in particular, are presented with. Do everything as if you have nothing else to do, do it all perfectly and don’t miss a beat. That idea has seeped into the media, magazines, television, and on the big screen. Hollywood would have us believe that we can, and should be able to do ALL. THE. THINGS.
This is more of a challenge than ever because we are trying to accomplish the impossible right now during COVID-19. Parents, especially mothers are busy with virtual/homeschooling, social distancing, trying to maintain friendships, keeping kids busy (without too much screen time) and a host of other balancing acts that leave many feeling fatigued.
The Juggling Act
It’s no wonder because at all hours of the day we are expected to be someone’s:
We’re not done yet. Not to mention a host of other titles like: friend/sister/daughter/cousin/school room mom/personal shopper and beyond. Did we mention professional juggler?
Okay, so the last one seems silly, but ultimately, we are being pulled in so many different directions, sometimes it feels as though the only way to even come close to accomplishing the unreasonable expectations is to be an octopus with eight arms.
Where does the pressure to “do it all” come from? We are constantly flooded with an incredible amount of information on social media, in magazines, on television, and more. Our brains are in perpetual overdrive, deciphering messages we’re receiving every minute of every day. Are we “doing it all” and are we “doing it all, the “right” way?” Another place to explore is our generational teachings and gender roles. What you learned growing up about how families work.
Who was in charge of specific tasks? Did your mother or grandmother always cook dinner and your father or grandfather always mow the lawn? These generational teachings have shaped the way we view our current relationship standards even without being conscious of it.
Lastly, our own biases and beliefs about perfection. The stories we tell ourselves about what it is we have to do, to be “perfect.”
Depending on many factors, these stories and beliefs shape everything we do, from how we interact with our children, our own self-talk, to our relationship with our partner(s).
Why We All Aim to be Super Moms
We feel pressure to keep up with others, “The Jones.” This isn’t a new concept. But it’s more real today, as the world moves faster than ever.
Information is available at our fingertips and we carry around computers in our pockets. We can always find out if “The Jones” went on vacation, got a new car, or bought their children the latest and greatest YouTube toy. Because of this unlimited access, we are in an incessant state of comparison.
Have you ever wondered if you are your own “Jones?” What if people are trying to keep up with you, your own unattainable expectations of reality? Or what if you’ve already achieved what you’re seemingly after?
You’re probably thinking, okay, we hear you, but now what? Nothing changes. We still have to do it all. Well, actually you don’t. Let’s talk about that. Asking for help.
Partners can (and should) help. Parenting in a relationship is difficult, (different topic, different article) but if you’re in a relationship, the parenting falls on you and your partner(s).
Let’s delegate some responsibility. You don’t have to do it all. We can also call upon other support systems we have, such as grandparents and friends. We can ask for help and should not feel shame and guilt, because asking for help is a valuable part of being a super mom.
Secondly, staying organized, and managing your time. Being a super mom isn’t rocket science, it’s organization. Developing a system with your partner(s) that works for you to maintain order in your home helps your family run smoothly, hence, Super Mom status.
Lastly, set and maintain boundaries. I like the following phrase, “No is a complete sentence.” Sounds kind of harsh, but it doesn’ mean you’re not doing a good job as a human being if you say “No.” You are always allowed to make the best decision for your family.
Sometimes, being a classroom parent for three kids isn’t the best decision (hint, hint, that’s me!) and that’s Okay. I am still going to call myself a super mom, because I can help the classroom in other ways. No, I can’t be the class mom for all three classrooms, but absolutely yes I can send cups and plates when needed. Super momming, my way!
Finally, self care. It may seem cliche, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Fill your cup often. Your children will be happier and healthier if you are happy and healthy. Find ways throughout your day to take brain breaks, just like we teach our children to do.
Self-care doesn’t have to look like a spa treatment (although that sounds nice and we should do that, too!) Take a breather, take a walk, take a nap, take a coffee break. Whatever taking care of yourself means to you and fits in with your life throughout the day, do that. And often.
You’re a Super Mom!
You’re a super mom if you have a pool in your backyard instead of vacationing at the ocean. You’re a super mom if you beg your kids to stop whining, crying, fighting, screaming regularly. You’re a super mom if you tell your kids “no.” You’re a super mom if you bottle-feed, breast-feed, formula-feed, or supplement your children’s nourishment.
You’re a super mom if you work full-time, part-time or not at all. You’re a super mom if you do anything remotely close to taking time to care for your basic hygiene.
You’re a super mom if you get sick and need help caring for your children so you can care for yourself. You’re a super mom if you don’t tend to the laundry or any other household chores because your children need extra cuddles.
You’re a super mom when you have days where you feel like you just can’t win.
You are already a super mom, no matter what. You are the absolute perfect mother for your child. Hand selected. You are invaluable and irreplaceable. Remember that.
Erica runs a Super Moms facebook group for Michigan Moms looking for support, networking and connection, check it out! @SuperMomsSocialClub.