Being a Super Mom May Be Dangerous to Your Health
by Debbie Mandel
In the year 2004 women are still conflicted: to stay or not to stay at home with the children; to go or not to go to work for self-fulfillment and a much needed second income, or to juggle both worlds- perfectly. Women were raised to be good little girls, accommodating, helpful and well-behaved; somehow throughout the years they kept adding on to this magical imagery. When the feminist movement took root, women who worked in the home, felt as if they were languishing, losing their keen mental edge. They envied those who “made something of themselves” in the work force. On the other hand, women who dedicated their twenties and thirties to their careers, while their fertility declined, envied the women who were home bonding with their children. Then the women’s movement gave birth to a seemingly brilliant inspiration: Women could do both. However, now they had to intensify their existence. It seemed like everyone was lining up waiting to be taken care of: husband, children, aging parents and the boss! As a result, panic attacks, anxiety and depression have escalated.
The good news is that every woman has the power to control her perceptions and emotions. She has the potential to become the heroine of her own personal story, most importantly, to learn from the conflicts encountered along the way. Every woman is entitled to a life adventure with a happy ending. Here are some suggestions to shed the myth of perfection and the accompanying stress.
- If you are always running around, create the time and space to sit quietly for an hour a day. Some women who have children and work outside the home get up an hour earlier in the morning to create this peaceful time. If you can’t find an hour, aim for at least fifteen minutes to drink a cup of tea or coffee. Hint: don’t worry about cleaning the house during your personal time. It is never clean enough, anyway.
- Let go of the guilt! If you work outside the house, you might feel guilty about shortchanging your kids. If you are working in the home, you might feel guilty that you are not a perfect wife and mother, and that you do not measure up to other career women with your level of education. Guilt wastes a lot of time. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be true to yourself.
- Live your own dreams, not other people’s dreams.
- Pay attention to maintaining your good health through a diet and exercise regimen. If you don’t have one, then you have lost your self-esteem. Caregivers must take care of themselves first or they are no good to anyone. They become irritable, fatigued and sad.
- You don’t need to do everything yourself. Ask for help from friends and family.Don’t be afraid to fail. You learn from failure and you can do better next time. Isn’t that what you tell your children, your friends and your co-workers?
- Don’t view yourself as a helpless victim. While you can’t change others, you can change your own dynamics and then everything changes.
- Implement your changes in small baby steps. Pat yourself on the back after each step.
- Don’t judge your choices or that of other women. If you choose to work outside the home, then feel proud about your work and see it as a meaningful contribution. If you choose to stay at home, you don’t have to be a perfect mother and homemaker to justify it. Enjoy the creativity and fulfillment of raising the children and running the household.
- Remember: You can have it all - just not all the time! Be fluid about making life decisions. You can change your mind about home or work or any combination thereof. It’s a woman’s prerogative.
Debbie Eisenstadt Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Southampton College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WHLI 1100AM in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com