With Mother’s Day right around the corner we thought this would be a good time to speak directly to moms. Specifically, those moms who juggle dozens of balls every single day without dropping a single one, but then collapse exhausted into bed each night. You know who you are…you’re the mom giving so much you barely even notice you have your own needs. You may have a demanding job, kids crying for your attention, friends who need your advice, a romantic relationship that requires work, a house to clean, a dinner to make, dishes to do, laundry to fold and, and, and…
And somehow you get it all done. But at what cost?
This article is for the overdoing moms – the kind of moms who stop at nothing to take care of everyone else. The dedicated moms who need to learn how to take better care of themselves. The moms who forgo their own downtime in order to accommodate the needs of family and house and more. The moms who get up and keep “doing” even when they’re running on fumes. When you’re a mom like this – constantly over-doing, over-functioning and over-caretaking…you are not loving yourself. In fact, you’re putting yourself dead last and that can’t go on if you want to live a happy life.
Let’s talk about how you can change.
The path to self-love starts with your to-do list
Let’s take a look at your to-do list. Grab a piece of paper and list everything you need to do the rest of this week. Write every single thing out on paper – work stuff, kid schoolwork stuff, baby stuff, husband stuff, cleaning stuff, grocery and dinner stuff – all of it. When every single item is written down for the week move on to the next step.
The next step on the path to self-love is to circle the things on your list that make you happy. The things you WANT to do. The things that fill you up and bring you joy. Some moms get emotional doing this exercise because they see (in black and white) that much of their life is made up of “doing” for others and doing stuff they don’t particularly want to do.
News flash – this is not self-love! And your self needs love…badly. So, in order to start letting yourself know you’re loved, you have to prove it to her.
Get a highlighter and go back to your list; highlighting anything that doesn’t feel like joy.
Be brutally honest here – highlight anything that makes you feel tired, annoyed, makes you go “ugh,” or feel anything other than happy. Having trouble deciding what to highlight? It can help to visualize yourself doing the task like going to the grocery store to shop or doing the laundry or taking the dog for a walk. When you picture yourself doing that task pay close attention to how it FEELS in your body. Your body will tell you if you like it or you don’t if you just listen.
When visualizing makes your chest feel tight, or your throat feel blocked or your head hurt – that’s your body saying “HELL NO”. If, instead, you feel a kind of opening, a freedom and peace when you see yourself doing something – that is a solid YES. It’s critical not to go into your thoughts here because your mind WILL try to tell you “it’s not so bad to do two hours of homework with the kids.” But your body will always be honest – it has no choice but to be honest. So, anything that feels even the slightest bit “ick” gets highlighted.
So you’ve got a lot of highlights – good.
Your job now is to figure out how to NOT do the things you don’t like.
This is when some outside-the-box thinking will come in very handy. Here’s an example – let’s say you highlighted “help kids with schoolwork for 2 hours” because it feels like death to you (it’s ok – many moms feel that way right now!). How can you delegate this unsavory (and seemingly mandatory) task? Feel like there’s no way out if it? Here are some creative ideas to get you started:
- Ask your spouse to handle schoolwork if he’s happier doing it/better at it
- Ask a fellow mom to trade. She Zoom schools your kids and you Zoom craft with her kids if you love painting or something
- Message your kid’s teacher and offer to pay her hourly to Zoom with your kids each day (or even a couple times a week)
All that matters is you find a way to not do tasks you dislike. Because guess what? You don’t have to. Promise. The more you channel your creativity, the more you will come up with unique ways to delegate or barter tasks. That friend who’s a math teacher probably wouldn’t mind teaching your kids on a conference line if you can help her with something.
Ok – you’re doing great!
The next step in this process is to take out another piece of paper and write down things you really enjoy.
The things you love – that your soul craves. The things that fill you up emotionally, physically, spiritually. It could be as simple as taking an hour to yourself each afternoon to read with a cup of coffee and zero distractions. It could be watching your favorite show alone or just with your spouse. It could be sitting outside listening to birds with a latte and a scone. Whatever these things are, write them all down.
Brace yourself, because this next part is often the hardest: DO the things you just listed. Do them as often as possible. Do you feel like it’s impossible? That’s because your MIND is taking over. So, you have to stop your mind from derailing you. Your brain will say “a good mom would help her kids with their schoolwork every day even if they’re super hard to wrangle and the math is over her head.” Your job is to notice the thought and ask “Is that really true?” Question it. Then…promptly disbelieve the thought. Because the truth is, it’s not your job to be a teacher when you don’t want to be. Your job is to be happy so your kids have a happy mom.
One last caveat – you’re going to have to do something you may be very uncomfortable with in order to transition to a life of more joy and self-love.
You have to give yourself permission to disappoint others.
It just comes with the territory because you are going to get backlash when you stop doing all the things you hate doing. People you love may get angry when you say you got a roasted chicken and bagged salad for dinner instead of a big homemade meal. People you love will likely pout and act out when you say you’re not going to play the game “Life” for the tenth time, but instead will be in your room and don’t want to be disturbed.
But guess who WON’T be upset? Or pouty? Or angry? You. You’re honoring YOU. You’re giving you what you need. You’re respecting and loving yourself. And that’s the greatest Mother’s Day gift a mom could ever receive.
You know what’s so great about this new path you’re taking to self-love? It’s going to help your kids, too. You see, as moms, we have a responsibility to show our kids how to love themselves. We have to teach them self-love by modeling it…every single day.
Now go forth and self-love, mama. And have the Happiest Mother’s Day! 💐