In coaching and workshop sessions with mums there are some familiar and repeated concerns that occur and we work through- all based around guilt, lack of confidence, frustration, feeling overwhelmed and more. Does any of that sound like you?
Here's what one mum wrote in an email to me after a coaching session:
'Thank you for taking time out to see me and for the lovely session today, just when I needed it too :).
I came home and took my 10 minutes along with a lunch break, which is unheard of! I've now completed 3 of the worst jobs on my list (and guess what, they didn't take long!) and feel a whole lot better. Isn't it funny how things can get on top of us and then we become our own worst enemy!!!'
What I find is that mums tend to try to be all things to all people, all of the time and then get to a breaking point. This may manifest itself in many different ways- from a yelling match with a spouse, or shouting at the kids; or sobbing uncontrollably for no reason, through to the more extreme cases of depression or breakdown.
Are you feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do?
Stressed, with no obvious break in the routine?
Do you feel guilty about the time you don't have for the kids?
Are you frustrated that you're working but only at 70% of your capabilities?
Have you given up on career prospects or the 'you' of a previous time?
Do you feel stuck in the reality of trying to do everything for everyone and failing?
This is often the situation of many, if not all of the mothers that come to see me and we have to work through a lot of the 'baggage' that comes with motherhood. Guilt is a big one to off-load as it seems you are 'damned if you do and damned if you don't' in a lot of cases.
Guilt starts right from conception: about that glass of wine; about that slice of ham; about no exercise/ too much exercise; about the right type of exercise; about the delivery and birth choices... and it just goes on and on and on. It is and will be never-ending. Children appear to be born with the guilt-producing gene while mothers have the receptor match for it.
Guilt is one thing, that takes a little more time and energy to look at, but as the testimonial above shows (from a busy single working mother of two), sometimes it is just the simple act of taking time out for yourself to re-connect with priorities and inner strength that makes all the difference. Simple but very effective.
So here are some simple strategies that helped her and others:
- Re-connect with yourself- even 10 minutes at some point in the day, will make a difference. Just allow yourself to breathe and let the stress dissipate. Even if it is just for 10 minutes, relieving yourself of stress and worry, will allow some tension release and your time will come back to you ten-fold in renewed energy and focus.
- Re-connect with your priorities. Remember what things are most important to you and begin to concentrate on them first.
- Re-connect with your strength and determination. Tame your to-do list: procrastination or avoidance of certain tasks needs some understanding so you can break a repeating pattern but in the meantime, take control and do just one thing that you have been putting off for weeks or months.
By attempting these simple strategies, mums can then begin to put themselves back on an equal footing with the rest of the priorities in her life. When you have a more balanced focus between them all, you can begin to see how being happier and fulfilled as an individual, as a woman, you are more happy and fulfilled as a mum. Confidence returns and things like guilt and stress become more manageable.
(can't see how you can find even 10 minutes in your day to yourself? or are you struggling with taming your to-do list? see here for more help)