Reduce Stress & Manage Motherhood Like a Boss (Literally)
Everywhere I turn, I’m running into a mom friend who is struggling with some health issue. The stress and pressure on my generation of women is just too much. We are expected to pop out kids, go back to work, feed them healthy meals, take care of ourselves, be their social counselors, get them into the right school, be a good wife, daughter, mother, friend. And the worst part is, we can’t say “No” to any of it, because we’re so busy proving women can do anything....and everything!
Meanwhile, autoimmune diseases are increasing among women. (According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, almost 80% of people with autoimmune disorders are female.) So are mental illnesses and suicide rates. Is anyone curious as to why?
In the past three days as I’ve shared my struggles with friends, I have, in turn, heard their struggles with headaches, heart palpitations, and stomach issues. Some are derived from stress and some are physical injuries that have manifested into nerve issues. The conundrum becomes: How to reduce your stress while keeping up with school commitments, extra curricular activities, wifely duties, motherly duties, friendly duties, work duties, and cleaning up doody, while feeling like sh*t?!
We’re busy trying to take the edge off with Chardonnay, edible pot, or chocolate (in excess and when children aren’t looking). And all we are doing is masking the underlying problem: overworked and underpaid – the battle cry of most humans, moms, non-moms, dads and non-dads. However, it’s how you tackle the stress and handle the shit thrown at you everyday that determines whether you prevail and stay healthy.
Moms are not allowed to crack. There are no vacation days, no sick days, and definitely no bank holidays. We are expected to be everything to everyone at all times. There are very few parenting book that mention the cracking part. Instead, there are marching orders of how to put your baby to bed, how to feed them, how to balance work and home life, how to prepare fresh, homemade baby food in 30 minutes or less...
The bottom line is something has to give and sadly, I’m seeing it’s the moms who aren’t bending like bamboo, but instead their oak tree branches are snapping.
As women and as mothers, we need to be able to have a way to push back, say enough is enough, and even *gasp* ask for help without feeling like we’ve failed ourselves, our kids, families, and even our gender. We need to be able to have the space to say, “I am suffering under the stress of all these expectations” without that being seen as a weakness. We need to stop carrying the burden just to prove we are equal, while doing unequal amounts of work. We need to stop stepping in to fill all the gaps. And we have to stop feeling responsible for everything.
Push Back from a Position of Strength
For your health and your sanity, pushback is essential. But for a lot of women, saying no feels either uncomfortable or weak. This is where you have to take control of the narrative and the situation like a mom boss. And as part of that, there are a few very important tasks:
Know your goals...both short term and long term. No, you are not going to write out a five year plan for your family. As any good CEO knows, you need to approach goals with agility, aware that there will be unforeseen events. But you do need to keep in mind what your short and long term goals are for you, your kids, and your family.
Delegate! You actually really don’t need to say no to tasks. You need to look at your family as your team, each member with their own strengths and weakness. You need to assign tasks accordingly, keeping in mind skills they need to learn now for their next stage of advancement as well as challenges that they can rise to. No boss takes on all the tasks of their enterprise. Neither should you. Micromanaging is a recipe for disaster.
Praise and Motivate: Motivation is key in delegation and a huge part of that is rewards. Interestingly enough, most employees in a business setting are more motivated by praise and recognition than they are by paid bonuses. Make sure to have the right rewards in place for your children and your spouse so that they feel proud of their contributions.
How do you say no to stress without feeling inadequate? Share your thoughts with us!
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