Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Let's face it, in most modern families, mom is the keystone in keeping the family functioning well. The common saying goes, "If mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" and it's so true. Even when you're a mom who is generally optimistic, well organized, and has her family's wellness at the #1 spot on her ongoing to-do list, things can still become overwhelming.
The way things are set up in a lot of families is that dad goes off to work (maybe even before the rest of the household is even awake) and mom is responsible for getting herself and the kids up, fed, ready for school, and out the door on time. She's rushing around because, despite setting alarms for an hour and a half before needing to get out the door, one kid has squirted toothpaste all over the floor and the other is in his room playing with Legos instead of getting dressed. Sound familiar? This was literally what happened to me this morning.
But what if we could go from putting mom last in the list of priorities, to putting her at the top? We could take those desires and skills that mom uses to manage the household and use them to take care of her (I'm using "we" because this needs to be a team effort). Instead of being overwhelmed, unfed, and unhappy, let's take some of the responsibility off of mom so that her day can be better balanced, she can actually take the time to eat meals herself, and she'll end up happier because she'll now be on the receiving end of being cared for.
A patient of mine has recently started to find this balance in her life. Instead of driving the kids everywhere herself, like she had been, she's made arrangements with other moms of her kids' friends to carpool, so that each family has a day or two per week where they're doing the transportation for the group (note: this is why you have the minivan or 7-seat SUV). She uses her "day off" to both take care of other responsibilities AND, more importantly, carve out time for herself to exercise, socialize with friends, and go to doctor's appointments and the like. She works part-time outside of the home, so, yes, she's got a few more free hours over the course of the week compared to moms working full-time, but before, every hour was taken up by the next task that needed to be done to benefit the household. Now that she is taking time and care for herself, she says she's there for her family in a way that nourishes EVERYONE.
Three first steps to start healing the matriarch:
1. With your spouse, list out the household responsibilities and then work together to distribute them equally between the two of you and consider outsourcing some tasks (like the carpool example).
2. List activities that energize and empower you. Try to think of ideas from multiple areas including physical health (including exercise and nutrition), mental/emotional health, social, spiritual, and any others that you may think of that don't fit into these categories.
3. Start filling out your schedule with the less flexible details like work and transportation, then go back to your activity list and see how those can fit in, aiming for at least 1 hour a day (which will hopefully grow).
We'll revisit this topic later, but for now, your first job is to grab your spouse and make that responsibility list!
Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or come up with cool ideas or insights that you want to share! Good luck!