Everyone will be honoring Mom this Sunday. Pancakes and coffee will be delivered to her bedside. Cards will arrive from grown kids out of town.
Today shes the star. But during the rest of the year, shes the chief caretaker. She tends newborns in the middle of the night. She kisses skinned knees and drives the carpool. She sends birthday gifts and condolence cards. Shes the person everyone turns to when theyre in need of emotional support.
Moms duties extend far beyond her offspring. Hubby requires time and attention. Elderly parents need assistance if theyre ill or it's to the vet. And you can bet itll be Mom behind the wheel.
It doesnt matter whether a woman is employed or at home full-time. Her caretaking duties dont stop if she earns a paycheck.
Fortunately, most women love caring for their families. They consider the health and happiness of their husbands and children to be priority No. 1.
Some even go so far as saying, My family is my hobby. Caring for them is what I do. I wouldnt have it any other way.
But such undying devotion comes at a cost. Giving to others is a physical and emotional drain. Even when women adore the activity, they can still experience burnout.
Its easy to detect the symptoms. Moms get angry and frustrated. They say and do things they quickly regret. They feel tired. Theyre overwhelmed. All the joys gone out of their lives. Mothers then feel guilty that theyve reached their maximum. They feel inadequate because they cant give any more. The standards theyve set for themselves are unrealistic. Still, they berate themselves for falling short.
They also equate self-care with being selfish. Time devoted to pleasure is perceived as excessive. Theyre bad and thoughtless if they care for themselves. They should be doing things for others 24/7.
The truth is that self-care is essential for busy mothers. The only way you can keep giving is by routinely refilling your own psychological tank. Sure, its important to care for the family. Its equally important to take care of you.
Modify your expectations. If youre chronically stressed, youre trying to do too much. Only do what you can comfortably manage. Dont worry that others accomplish more than you do. Your own limits are what matter.
Manage your familys schedule. Kids dont have to be in every activity. And they dont need to start classes while still in diapers. Allow ample time for relaxation and self-entertainment. Calm is much better than pressured.
Keep household chores in perspective. Its good to keep your home in order. But spotless is unrealistic and adds unnecessary stress. Think good enough when it comes to housework. No one is going to judge.
Say no to your children and family. They dont need everything they ask for. Decipher what they want from what you can give them. Its an important lesson for them to learn.
Dont overdo for your kids. Yes, you love them to pieces. But make them perform chores as they are able. For instance, teens should do their laundry. Grade-schoolers can feed and clean up after pets.
Combine chores and self-care. Take a walk during your sons karate class. Read your Kindle while your daughter has tutoring. Youll get a few moments to yourself in the middle of a busy day.
Exercise. Exercise gets your heart pumping and makes you feel good about yourself. Find time for 30 minutes most days of the week. Youll be a great example for your kids.
Find time for friends. Play bunko once a month. Join a new-moms group. Their energy and camaraderie will boost your spirits and morale.
Have some fun. Take a class at the rec center. Shop garage sales with your neighbor. Youll return refreshed and happy, ready to face your brood.
Put your feet up. Got a break in the middle of the day? Take a 10-minute breather. The chores can wait for you to unwind.
Pamper yourself. Get your nails done. Have a massage. You take care of everyone else. Its time to return the favor. Happy Mothers Day.
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit http://lindalewisgriffith.com.