Chronic Supermom Syndrome (CSS) tricks you into believing you can do it all. But it’s just not possible. You can fake it for a while, but eventually something will fall through the cracks—typically, your health and family.
The human body can only withstand so much lack of sleep and increased stress before it starts to melt down. After months and months of my Supermom schedule my normally low blood pressure was borderline high, my memory became spotty and I found it difficult to quiet my mind enough to sleep. Or worse, I would fall asleep ridiculously early and wake up in the middle of the night, my heart pounding “Did I remember to…?!?”
CSS was also affecting my family. I was repeatedly losing my temper, forgetting client tasks, snapping at my kids. Little things that normally wouldn’t bother me brought out the monster mom. I knew I had to do something soon.
How I stopped the vicious cycle of Chronic Supermom Syndrome.
First: Just say no.
Two simple letters. N. O. I had to stop saying yes and learn to not feel guilty when I said no. No excuses; I simply say: I'm sorry but I can’t help you with… the PTA fundraiser, classroom reading, robotics club snacks, etc. If pressed I say it doesn't fit into my schedule and that is the end of it.
Just by saying no to those few extra requests, that in the long run don't matter, you will free up time to do things you want to do. I no longer work on weekends (except for dire emergencies) and during the week I start work between 9 and 10 am, and stop work at 6 pm. Not only am I a much happier person, but my kids now they have my full attention when my work day is done.
Second: Take 15 minutes to enjoy the silence.
With a family of seven, there is no shortage of noise in our house. One day–after a particularly rough morning getting the kids up and out the door to the bus stop, dropping my two oldest off at the high school, taking forgotten homework to the middle school, running to the grocery store and post office–I was just too exhausted to get out of the car. I turned off the engine and sat there, reveling in the silence. After about 15 minutes, I walked back into the house rejuvenated, focused and ready to get to work.
Now, every day instead of rushing back into the house to start work, I sit in the car, enjoying the silence, taking deep, cleansing breaths until my mind and body are calm. I have discovered if I take these few minutes to “reboot” myself every morning, it makes a huge difference in the rest of my day.
Third: Remove the clutter from your home.
This strategy was recommended to me by my brilliant client and friend, Erin Owen. In her book Refuel, Recharge and Re-energize, Erin says “All that clutter in your physical… space clogs your creative pipes, and that carries with it a price. It negatively affects your mental health and prevents you from following through on the next big idea.”
When you clear the clutter from your home, you will help clear the clutter from your mind. I found that when my desktop is clean, I am much more focused and able to complete tasks more quickly and accurately than when my desk is cluttered with papers, mail, and all the other stuff that distracts me from the task at hand.
Fourth: Ask for help or “Let It Go”.
I'm a classic Type A personality. I need to be in control and have a very hard time deferring tasks to other people because I “know” I will do a better job. Although it's still a work in progress, I'm learning to ask for help when I need it and how to pick my battles and let things go. No one ever died because the dishwasher didn't get loaded at the end of the night.
My girls now have chores every day. Once a week or so, my husband will take control of dinner and bedtime for the kids. By making a few small changes I have “found” time to focus on important things, like planning a fun excursion for the weekend, taking a bubble bath, or reading a few chapters of a really good book.
Fifth: Enjoy Life.
This isn't so much a strategy as a state of mind. Your purpose in life isn't to just get through each day, but to live to its fullest potential. Stop putting off things until… you lose 15 pounds, or your house is clean, or you have a nicer car. Stop saving the good china. Go visit your friends and family, even if you have to drive 18 hours in a SUV that gets 8 miles to a gallon—packed with five kids and two dogs!
Make the things that matter–family, friends, self-care–a priority and you will find yourself healthier, happier and your life immensely more enjoyable.
Conquering CSS is not something you can do overnight. Just like any habit, it took you a while to develop and it will take you a while to break the cycle. But by taking baby steps to implement these five strategies you will soon feel less stressed, more relaxed and hopefully begin to enjoy life to the fullest and truly become a supermom.