Of all the tips for working mums, top of the list has to be taking care of yourself. Mum’s needs often seem to come last – after the kids, their dad, the job, the pets, and endless errands, that is. You can’t always stay on the back burner. Whether it’s exercise or meditation, massage or coffee with a friend, take time out to avoid the superwoman trap.
Here are 4 reasons for women who are headed toward the superwoman trap to look after yourself:
If Superwoman Isn’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy
When mum is stressed or burnt out, everyone in the house suffers. Even a baby gets fussy when the mother is tense or upset. Older children may respond by acting out.
If you take an hour or two to yourself, with whatever nourishes you, the rest of the day (or week) will be easier and more fun. Your family will enjoy having an energetic and refreshed mum, even if they complain about your absence. The bottom line here is: by paying attention to your own needs, you’ll actually be better at meeting everyone else’s.
Stress and Sleep Deprivation Make You Fat
Stress and sleep deprivation release cortisol into your bloodstream, which triggers fat storage around your waist.
It is unhealthy to carry more weight than your ideal. It increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis, as well as other conditions. Having good quality of life will allow us to live long enough to play with our grandchildren, and maybe even see them get married.
The next time you may be tempted to stay up until midnight sorting, folding, and putting away everyone else’s laundry, go to sleep instead. You can dress the kids out of baskets of clean laundry. Also, taking your work lunch break to exercise can actually give you a burst of energy and make the afternoon more productive.
Other People Are Capable, Too
So many working mums fall into the superwoman trap, thinking we have to be in charge of everything because we’re the only one who will do it right. That mentality not only overloads you with work, it doesn’t give enough credit to your other family members. Even worse, it prevents them from learning skills that can lighten your load and make them feel more capable.
Try leaving the kids with their dad or grandfather for a Saturday morning while you have brunch with your girlfriends. He may not change the nappies as often as you would, or feed them perfectly balanced meals, but I bet they have fun regardless. Not only will he feel rightly proud of his caregiving ability, your children will develop a different perspective, seeing that they’re all right without mum always needing to be nearby.
At work, see if there’s a junior employee to whom you can delegate some tasks. Again, they won’t be completed the way you would, but you’ll have more free time for yourself. You’ll also be assisting someone who could use the experience.
Life Is for Living
This is your life, right now. Would you rather spend it rushing around to finish your ‘to do’ list, or actually enjoying yourself? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll relax once you reach the bottom of the list – there will always be something more to do. Instead, ruthlessly prioritise and eliminate tasks that don’t absolutely have to get done.
If you are having trouble taking out time for yourself, start small. If you always wanted to meditate, wake up five minutes early for some deep breathing and visualisation. If you miss exercise regularly, schedule a once-a-week power walk during lunch. If it’s on your calendar, you can plan work around it.
Remember, the next time you have some breathing space, don’t fill it with errands. Instead, ‘just breathe’.