I have met so many interesting and weary grown-ups lately.
I put a beautiful picture and poem by Rebekah Knight on my FB page last week called ‘Slow Down Mummy‘ and it resonated with soooo many exhausted and busy Mums.
In a Silence, Stillness and Calmness seminar recently I asked for everyone (99% were Mums) to not just put their mobiles on silent or vibrate – but to turn them off totally. It caused some discomfort and mild unease – and the 1.5 hours of being ‘out of the loop’ of our digital world was certainly a challenge to many.
One young Mum came up to me afterwards and told me how difficult that had been for her. During the seminar she noticed how much she was unsettled by not being able to check her texts, FB updates and Twitter and yet by the end of the seminar she noticed she had come to a place of being OK with being disconnected.
When she collected her son from the crèche after the seminar she chose to leave the phone off and came to tell me how much more connected she felt to her boy – how much slower she walked, how much more she heard and observed of her son’s world. With tears in her eyes she thanked me and said she was going to work harder at slowing down, soothing more, speaking more quietly and giving up the need to get in front as a Mum.
The burnt chop
In my seminars for women, I often challenge the ‘burnt chop’ habit of many women. This happens when a woman makes sure everyone else in her family is taken care of before herself – she will have whatever is left over, often the burnt chop.
This is sending a message to our psyches that we are ‘less than’, or less valuable. When this subtle message is joined with the “I need to look like I am doing a great job and never need any help” thinking – we girls put ourselves in a place that empties our cup of sustenance and we create deep exhaustion as the norm. A rest on the couch can be seen as a weakness and release the guilt monster in our brain.
When we get to this place we struggle to say ‘no’ when we want to and around home we can start huffing and puffing maybe even put on the martyr mask and soon we get crabby, resentful, angry and overwhelmed.
Even in this stressed place we often say no to offers of help and we certainly don’t ask for help! One woman emailed me after a seminar to share that she had an unemployed husband (due to a serious work accident), that she and her sister had breast cancer and her son had a serious life-debilitating condition. She emailed to share the fact that she was doing what I described – trying to be wonder-woman – and refused all offers of help and support. Hopefully since then she has started to accept kindness graciously and value her own soul and fill her own cup.
Saying yes to support
If we still lived in a kinship community we would automatically know that a ‘sister’ was not travelling well and instead of ‘tsk tsk’ing, judging or maybe criticising we would simply offer support knowing that if we ever needed some help, all that goes around comes around.
Women need other women to share the journey no matter where it goes and for that to happen we need to be brave enough to own our vulnerabilities, our fears, our wounds and our disappointments.
A strong sisterhood is also what is needed for our daughters and nieces. Wise caring women need to step forward and guide our girls and maidens on the pitfalls and dangers of the womanhood journey. So many of our girls are already distressed because they are not pretty enough, skinny enough or smart enough.
I value my dear ‘sisterhood’ and know that we share openly and without shame our warts and our wins.
The other area that can help our weary overwhelmed Mums is having great Dads and/or other partners/co-parents and support people who understand and appreciate that many Mums find it hard to relax, rest and recuperate.
It is so important for parents to give each other a break – and for family and friends to look out for sole parents who need a break too and step up and offer to help. Today’s Mums seem to have so much more on their plates than 20 years ago and they do seem to really find it hard to take the time to nurture and care for themselves.
A message to all the Mums reading this – your value is not in a tidy house, a nice car, a new outfit – your real value comes from within, and your capacity to love, accept and value yourself is what really determines how much your kids will love, accept and value themselves.
Micro-moments of connection with our precious kids work a treat – they build beautiful love bridges from our hearts to our kids’ hearts. Step over the washing some days and go outside and play and look at what happens in the eyes of your child. Beyond priceless.
Tips to avoid Mummy burnout
- take care to nurture yourself
- share the burnt chops (or lentil burgers)
- indulge in guilt-free couch/bath time
- create mini-moments of connection with your kids
- be brave and ask for help when struggling
- be even braver and accept help when it’s offered
- embrace the ‘bugger’ moments as ‘just life’
- lighten up and laugh more
- remind yourself of what you are grateful for
- say no when you mean no
- value healthy sisterhood
- avoid Wonderwoman – she needs some rest time too
- Embrace this – imperfection and mess teaches our kids resilience.
“When we help another woman’s light to shine, our own light shines brighter. Sadly the reverse is also true.” – Maggie Dent
NB If you are feeling the need for some time out (or rather time in), check out Maggie’s free calming audio relaxation track, the Moonlight Relaxation for Mums