My youngest walks towards me. His feet are bare.
“Where are your shoes? You need your shoes! Seriously, you know what to do! Go get your shoes!” I bark.
He slowly turns around. “Hurrrry!” I call after him.
“Don’t they know I am doing this for them?” I muse. “What is wrong with them? Why do they move so slowly when we need to leave?”
Practice runs a little late that night. When we finally arrive home it is past their bedtime. “Go get ready for bed. It is late,” I call out.
“Mom, I’m hungry. Swimming makes me so hungry,” my ten-year-old moans.
“Okay, eat something quickly, and then head off to bed,” I quickly order.
I glance at tomorrow’s schedule: Cub Scouts and piano lessons. The next day shows swim lessons and a church meeting. I also have an activity I need to plan and a Sunday lesson to think about. Where will I cram in weekly laundry and grocery shopping? My head starts spinning. “I can do this. If only my kids would listen and move quickly when we need to go,” I reason.
Another month passes. I grow more impatient, frustrated, and sometimes flat-out mean. My children are on edge and bicker regularly. My life is spiraling out of control—all in the name of “”Supermom.”
How I wish I could have a heart-to-heart chat with my younger self. I would tell her, “Damara dear, I know you want to be a good mom, but your red shiny cape has to go! Here’s a great idea: dig a hole in the backyard, toss it in, and cover it with dirt. You don’t need it. You are good enough without it, and your children will be better off.”
At the time, I failed to realize most of the stress and frustration was self-inflicted. My children were not to blame. In my crazed need to be “”Supermom”” (or in other words, “perfect mom”), I forgot what mattered most—my children.
At the time I believed I was acting in my children’s best interest, when in fact I was subconsciously driven by selfish motives. Appearing to be “Supermom” and keeping up my hectic schedule made me feel important and validated.
The result: I was miserable and so were my children.
Since then I have discovered three important adjustments which allow more time for the things that matter most: my relationships.
Be careful about over scheduling children. This required that I thoughtfully consider all activities my children were involved in and scale them back to a reasonable amount. I’m not recommending removing all activities. Instead, closely inspect your calendar for the next week. If your children have more than two activities scheduled per week, contemplate which ones might be unnecessary.
Imagine a mom with five children who each have three or more weekly activities (some occurring on multiple nights). “Supermom” has agreed to juggle 20+ activities per week, not including her own events. Wow, that is a lot to volunteer for!
Counsel together as a family and brainstorm what adjustments need to be made. Also, keep in mind activities do not need to be evenly spread between children. If one child only has one weekly activity, he doesn’t need an extra one to even things out. Trying to be fair and equal can cause more problems than it helps.
Be mindful of personal boundaries. When I always say yes to everyone’s requests, I’m saying no to me and my family. Of course, I want to help others and chip in; however, I realized when I agree to too many projects I later feel resentful. I discovered it’s okay to tell some people, “I am too busy right now, thank you for asking me.” When we have healthy boundaries, we are able to give more of ourselves instead of being spread so thin and feeling miserable.
The house does not have to be perfect. Often women feel their home is a reflection of who they are. When my children were young, I would spend lots of time constantly picking up after them. I felt frustrated and stressed. I was impatient with my children and sometimes lost my temper. Then one day it hit me—what is more important? My spotless house or my relationship with my children? I chose my children! This does not mean my house is trashed. However, it does not need to be spotless, either.
Instead, I invite my children to do the chores with me. At times they are resistant, but I encourage them to join me and learn new jobs together. It has been a wonderful opportunity to talk while working alongside each other.
Keep in mind, young children love to explore and make messes—that is how they learn. When you are done for the day, pick up the house together. Do not fret and stress. More important than a spotless house is a home of love.
Yes, I have things to get done, but I no longer over-schedule my children’s activities, feel guilty about telling someone no, or hyper-stress about my house. For five years I have been on a journey to discover how to balance my life and live for today, so I can feel more love, peace, and happiness with my family. Thankfully, I buried my “Supermom” cape long ago. I am enough, and so are you!
QUESTION: In what areas of your life do you feel out of balance? What adjustments could you make to get more joy out of your relationships?
CHALLENGE: Look over your weekly schedule and assess whether you’ve committed to too much. If you have, begin to pare those commitments down to find a more reasonable balance.
Edited by Lisa Hoelzer and Sarah Monson