Super Mom’s Alter Ego: Stress
Summer is coming to a close and the school year looms ahead full of hope, potential, and stress. As much as I love the summer with its spontaneity, fun, and togetherness, I love the structure and predictability of the school year. But with that comes homework, extra curricular activities, clubs, and the juggling of everything life throws at you.
Over scheduling is a huge problem in today’s society affecting parents, children, and their relationships. We are always going, going, going, but in different directions. Its impact on the emotional health of families, children, and ourselves is something we rarely think about.
Trying to be everything to everyone and getting everyone to everywhere, is one of the biggest stresses of returning to school. How do you cram homework, piano practice, chores, and sports into the 4 hours or so after school? Better yet how do you do it with out driving your already maxed out child or self to the brink?
The answer is: you can’t.
Sure you can maintain the pace for awhile, but soon your steps will slow, you’ll begin to falter and your mental state starts to feel like it has shin splits. Just like in your body, your mind has its limits. Push the pace too long or hard and something will snap.
We tend to judge ourselves based on our productivity. Our competitive society has bred us to believe that more is better and unless we are producing or “doing” as much as everyone thinks or says we should then we are behind or failing. And we believe them and stress ourselves out over an impossible standard.
As women we tend to suffer from the super mom syndrome, we have to be everything, do everything, and ensure all family members are enabled to reach their potential. We all want to be like “that mom.” The one who juggles everything, has a spotless gorgeous home, is still a size 4, looked like she came out of a salon, and her kids are just as accomplished as Mozart, Einstein, and Michael Jordan. Since when have we actually ever met a REAL person that’s capable of that. We think we know them, but do we really?
All super hero’s have an alter ego, that person they really are in order to hide their secret powers. Super man was really a peon reporter with glasses. Spiderman is, well, a dork. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire with all sorts of phobias. Captain America has PTSD. Black Widow has a “past.” Super Mom is really one of two things. Spoiled rotten with all sorts of hired help you’ll never be able to afford. More likely, she’s just a better actress than you are. We don’t see the woman behind the front door who freaks out about her destroyed living room due to the ravages of a three year old. Or the battle of the bulge on a 5am run. We don’t see the monthly breakdowns or her guilt at not spending enough time with her kids.
As you start the school year and dive (or drive) into all those wonderful opportunities I want you to do one thing. Slow DOWN! Put on the brakes if you have to and just breathe for a minute. Ask yourself is it worth it? Are all these things really better than the mama on the edge that you will become midway through soccer season? Are they better than the list of do’s that haunt you and keep you up at night for the sake of that impossible ideal?
The New Game Plan
- Print a Time-Management-Table from our time management post (wouldn’t hurt to read it too)
- Have each person write down what they want to do and need to do on a sheet of paper.
- Highlight all the things that are NESSESSARY (work, school, homework, etc)
- Fill in the schedule with just those things
- Each person prioritizes their wants (extracurricular activities, clubs, etc.)
- Schedule in family time, alone time, and free time
- As a family work together to fit in wants, you’re a team so work together
- Choose highest priorities
- Can you take turns doing activities (ex: Steve- football in fall, Laura- ballet in spring, Henry- baseball in spring/summer)
- Estimate cost in money and time so all can see the “toll” of their demands on the family
- Plug this into the schedule and decide if this something that can realistically be done without running everyone (especially mom) to the brink
Don’t be afraid to tell yourself and your family, “No, I can’t do all this.” Sit down as a family and evaluate your schedules, rearrange, take the red pen to it, and give yourself permission to enjoy the life you have.
Remember we may have outgrown nap time, but we still need down time. How are you managing back to school this year?