Want to be a supermom? Take good care of yourself!

Want to be a supermom? Take good care of yourself!

In my last blog I talked about how to assess your life to see if you are trying to be a Supermom, but burning yourself out at the same time.  

Here’s a little metaphor to help you understand why you need to take care of yourself before you can be a supermom ☺

The metaphor of the oxygen mask

Many years ago I was attending a Mothers of Preschoolers group. This particular group was a small group that was just forming.

There were only 8 or 9 of us at any given meeting, and because we had limited time and budget we shared the duties of organizing what we would do at each meeting. At one of these gatherings, a woman who has become one of my closest friends started her presentation by reading out of a book on women’s spirituality.  

The piece she read spoke about how important it is for moms to take care of themselves. The author used the metaphor of the oxygen mask on an airplane to explain her point:

Think back to the last time you took a flight.

Remember that introductory part that a flight attendant does before you take-off? The flight safety instructions?

 After demonstrating how, in the case of an emergency the oxygen masks will drop down from the ceiling above the passengers head, the flight attendants will instruct the passengers to put the oxygen masks on themselves before helping others who cannot do so themselves – even children!

Why in the world would they want you to ignore your children in order to take care of your own needs first???

Simple – Because if you pass out due to a lack of oxygen you cannot help your child.

So let’s apply this to life in general…

Are you running your children around so much that you do not have any time left to take care of yourself?

Are you working in a job that you can’t stand so that your children can have expensive lessons or go to an expensive private school when there are perfectly good public schools nearby?

Are you volunteering for every school committee, baseball board, girl scout troop, etc. because it’s important for your children to have a fulfilled life?

NEWSFLASH ☺

Your children need you to be relaxed and not exhausted more than they need you to lead their scout troop and serve as the PTA board president.  

Your children need you to feel fulfilled and peaceful more than they need those expensive lessons or that expensive sports gear. If your children see you as a happy person, they will be happy people!

So, put the oxygen mask on yourself first

What things can you cut back on to make more time for self-care?

What can you then add to your life for your own fun and relaxation?

Are you trying to buy your kids happiness instead of showing them how to achieve happiness through easy (often free) relaxation and self-nurture?

Comment below and don’t miss my vlog on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peacefullivingwellness to share how you are going to put the oxygen mask on yourself first!

Love & Light,

Jen

 

The Myth of the SuperMom

The Myth of the SuperMom

A few weeks ago, I asked my super awesome virtual assistant Alexa to hold down the fort on posting to my social media for a week while I spent time with my daughter who was in the hospital.  She replied, “no problem! I’ll keep everything going while you’re out being Supermom.”  I chuckled and groaned at the same time. I am FAR FROM A SUPERMOM!

Her comment made me think of the articles I used to read about the super successful women professionals and entrepreneurs in the Working Mother magazines some well-meaning friend would give me when my children were little.

The articles would highlight beautiful, thin, women who were corporate leaders in their industries or multimillion dollar company owners. They would show pictures of their darling, perfectly coifed children and speak glowingly of how these women would make sure to cook hot breakfasts and dinners and pack organic, wholesome lunches for their children all while working the hours that it takes to become hugely successful! Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… the articles would gush on and on about these supermoms.  

Needless to say, I would first drench myself in guilt over that fact that I just could NOT get up at 4:00 in the morning to exercise and get my “me time” in before my little darlings woke up! And of course, there would be the guilt that even though I was teaching part-time at my university job, I still COULD NOT GET EVERYTHING DONE!  

And then I would try to be like those supermoms.  

I would go full-force, teaching and commuting, cleaning, cooking, laundry, play dates, Musical Munchkins, Gymboree, Tumbletots, dance, Little League, martial arts etc. etc. etc.   And, of course, I would end-up burned out, exhausted and fighting a sense of failure because I just could not do it all.

Here’s the reality check:

Most of the real supermoms I know either have a lot of family support to help them with their kids OR they have a nanny!

Even the media’s most recent darling supermom, Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame, admitted in interviews (after women criticized her) that she had an incredible support system in her family; in particular, her husband would often put her career ahead of his and take on the primary caretaking of the kids.  

As I’ve aged, and my kids have grown, I have met many different types of moms.

I have friends who are solidly stay-at-home moms and happy to do so. I have met moms who are type-A super career women and happy to be so. And I have met a lot of moms who are doing the best they can, but feel very unsatisfied with themselves and their lives because they just don’t feel like they measure up to the dichotomy of mothering standards our society has prescribed for women.

If we choose stay-at-home motherhood then we are not pursuing our full potential. If we choose a fulltime career, we are not giving enough of ourselves to our children. Either way, we’re letting somebody down!

“The Mommy Wars”

This phenomenon was even deemed by some savvy media writer: “The Mommy Wars.”

Through both the media and social clubs women would bash each other for their choices. I read an article by a supposed Third Wave Feminist bashing other women who were giving up their careers to stay at home with their kids.

She did not have enough perspective to see that her career as a freelance writer, her mothering of a single child, and her nearby family who not only offered to watch her child whenever she asked but also for free, is not the reality of most working moms!  

On the other side of the coin were the moms at a Mother’s of Preschoolers (MOPS) group I joined who would look at me with horror on their faces and ask in an aghast voice, “you work? You commute to work?”  

Their idea of a career was to sell any number of crafting or skincare products to their friends. But, even that career had its limits if it in any way interfered with little Jenny or Jeffrey’s schedule! Their “me time” consisted of the one morning a week they spent at MOPS or the play dates they would organize for their kiddos where they could at least chat with other moms.  

Some women must work to support their children

What is lost in these bitch-sessions, oh, I mean discussions (besides the important qualities of empathy and compassion for others’ choices) is the realization that some moms do not have a choice! Some moms must work in order to pay the bills. Of course, there are the single moms who must work simply to support their children. But, in this day-and-age, it is also very difficult to support a family on one income. Many households must have both parents working.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, “to raise a child born in 2013 to the age of 18, it will cost a middle income couple just over $245,000.”

Multiply that by the number of children a couple has. Add on to that expenses not directly associated with child-rearing, but there nonetheless. And then add on student loans that many educated couples are paying. There is a lot of money going out the door!

Some women want to work

The six months I spent at home after my daughter was born was one of the most special AND most difficult times of my life!

I enjoyed spending time with my two small children. I enjoyed the Musical Munchkins groups. I enjoyed the weekly mommy & me yoga classes we attended! But, there was also something just missing.

I did not figure it out until my first day back on the university campus. I felt like I was vibrant again! I felt a  renewed sense of purpose!

Not all mothers need this sense of professional identity and purpose. But, many do.  I have coached several women whose stress comes from the loss of their professional identity and their inner need to feel a sense of purpose from their careers.  And this is OKAY! It is okay for mothers to feel fulfilled not only by their children but also by their jobs and the time they spend away from their children.

Some women want to stay at home

I have a friend who recently posted on Facebook about how happy she is that she just quit her job and is going back to her old job of being a full-time wife and mother.  She is feeling so relieved. Her job was thankless and was running her into the ground.

I have other friends who were happily employed, but when their children were born found joy and fulfillment in staying home with them.

I even know three women who adopted babies when their biological children were grown because they loved mothering so much. One of these women went all the way to Uganda to adopt two orphans!

These women are fortunate enough that they are financially in a situation where their family is not dependent on an income from them.

Just because they chose fulltime mothering over professional fulfillment, it does not mean that they in any way are less fulfilled than career women. Nor does it mean that they are, in the words of one interesting white male, “not contributing much to society.”

How to find your truth

Most people do have a tendency to look outward for approval. I challenge you to look inward. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I overwhelmed by trying to do it all?
  • Do I feel a sense of emptiness or a lack of fulfillment?
  • Am I more aware of what others think of me or what I know to be best for myself?

What do I do to take care of myself?  Do others always come before me?

Reflect on your answers to those questions.  What do your first-reaction answers tell you? When you look deeper, what does your intuition tell you?

Are there others voices that are influencing your feelings?  Are there any ideas that come to you telling you how you could add more fulfillment, but reduce overwhelm?

Here is an exercise you can try:   

Write out a list of what you do from when you get up to when you go to bed.

In other words, a day in your life.

Take a look at how many things you are doing that are not self-nurturing. How many things are you doing that are not fulfilling?  

Of course, we all have to do many of those things as responsible adults, but are there things on that list that you just do not have to do?

For example, could you arrange a carpool to soccer so that you don’t have to go to every practice? Can you limit your volunteering for extra things at work or at your children’s school?

Are you spending time on social media that you could be spending reading or listening to something more fulfilling? Are you venting on social media instead of in a journal or to a coach or therapist or friend (being that sharing time with others is essential to stress-relief)?

And finally, is your quest to fulfill all of your roles in life – including SUPERMOM – taking away from your peaceful living?

This is only the beginning of what could & should be an amazing brainstorming session about how moms can be Supermom by taking care of themselves! Let’s get this brainstorming session going!!!  Post your comments below and/ or on www.facebook.com/peacefullivingwellness!

 

With Gratitude & Compassion, 

Jen

A New Year’s Resolution that Works: The Gift of Serenity.

A New Year’s Resolution that Works: The Gift of Serenity.

I was pleased as punch when I heard that the theme for this year’s Times Square crystal ball was “The Gift of Serenity!”  You can imagine my delight in finding out that the 2,688 beautiful Waterford Crystal plates on the iconic ball (shown below) were imbued with a sentiment so close to my heart.waterford crystals from 2018 new years ball

The gift of serenity is my life’s passion! So let’s receive this gift and get the proverbial ball rolling for serenity in our lives for 2018 – pun intended 😉

If serenity is your first resolution, the others will fall into place.

The other cool thing that caught my attention this week is that “being a better person,” outranked weight loss as the top resolution this year.

I love that!

There has been so much rancor in 2017 with the tumultuous U.S. election and the subsequent tide of negative tweets coming from the new president. Not to mention the ever-growing phenomenon of social media and the perceived anonymity of the screen that seems to prompt some people to feel empowered to engage in meanness and cruelty.  

And then, of course, there has been the outing of all of the rampant sexual harassment and assault that takes place in the workplace worldwide – I’m thankful that it’s finally being taken seriously.

It’s wonderful that the Maris Poll found personal betterment to be the number 1 resolution this year.

That said, being a better person is sort of a broad topic… 

How can we be better people?

Well, that’s where it comes back to serenity!  If we reduce our stress, practice mindfulness, and find serenity and peaceful living, we become happier, healthier people.

Happier, healthier people are more likely to be kind to others. Happier, healthier people are more likely to be patient with themselves and others.

Happier, healthier people are simply “better people.”

Some Fun Facts

  • Studies have shown that optimism and a sense of purpose equate to at least a 20%  reduction in the development of stress-based diseases such as heart disease, and diabetes
    • (Laura Kubansky and K. “Vish” Viswanath for Time Publishing, The Science of Happiness: Discoveries For a More Joyful Life. 2016)
  • Mindful meditation has been found to strengthen the human immune system, even in people with HIV.
    • (David Cresswell, et. Al.  University of California, Los Angeles).
  • Bringing serenity and peaceful living into one’s life, particularly through the practices of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, have been shown through widespread studies in the field of psychology to reduce the effects of many different emotional and mental health disorders ranging from drug and alcohol addiction to borderline personality disorder, and relapsing anxiety and depression
  • When too much cortisol, the hormone produced by the body when under stress, continually hits the brain it can cause hippocampal brain damage which results in the inability to sleep, memory loss, brain fog and an inability to control moods.
    • (Holly Lucille, ND, RN Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Woman’s Guide to Safe, Natural, Hormone Health. Impakt Health, 2004).

How to bring more serenity into your life

Start each day with gratitude.  

Instead of jumping (or in some cases slowly rolling) out of bed and rushing into your day, take a few moments to wake up your brain by thinking about a few things for which you are grateful. You will notice a difference in your overall attitude for the day when you start on this positive note.

Practice patience.

As things come up in your day that are frustrating take a few moments to breathe deeply and allow yourself to be more patient with the situation, the person, or even yourself if the case may be.

Use mindful communication.

In a previous blog I talked about the skill of mindful communication and how to say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.

A gentle tone makes all the difference both to the person to whom you are talking and to your inner self. It sets a tone of positivity and peacefulness.

Take a timeout.

Taking short breaks throughout your day allows your brain and body to relax and ultimately improves your efficiency and productivity.  You can enhance the health effects of the brain breaks by practicing meditation during your time out.

Do something nice for yourself each day!

Practicing positivity and self-nurture is the ultimate technique for bringing more serenity into your life!

There you have it – the gift of serenity!  

If you give yourself this gift as your first resolution you will find that being a better person becomes easy.

You will also find that being a healthier person, a more productive person, and a more successful person often follows serenity.

So do yourself and your loved ones a favor and accept this gift <3

I would love to hear from you throughout your journey of serenity! Comment here and on Facebook throughout 2018!

Love & Light,

Jen

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