Self Care & Working Moms
Mom guilt is real.
We’ve all been there. That feeling of being inadequate or like you’re not fulfilling your responsibilities as a mother. You are juggling so many balls and heavens forbid one of them drops. The desire to ensure that your children have happy, successful lives and feeling like you are failing in this task is a feeling mothers from all walks of life at one point or the other have experienced - Mom Guilt.
Did you know?
Women were three times more likely than men to report rising anxiety, stress, and mental health challenges. Women are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression than men, and there are numerous factors that may contribute to this, including reproductive hormones, response to stress, and social pressures unique to women.
Working moms are further exposed to stressors, and can be under immense pressure. The constant juggling of work and career demands – on top of the regular day-to-day household duties of maintaining the home and children. These heightened pressures on working mothers contribute to increased rates of mental health challenges.
So, if you are feeling burned out, overwhelmed, and overall exhausted, know that you’re not alone. Burnout and overwhelm are real challenges for working moms.
But don’t throw in the towel just yet!
It’s important to slow down, be mindful, and allow yourself to be kind to yourself, whether you are working in or outside the home.
4 tips to help you navigate mom guilt
Below are some helpful tips to help you think about how to improve your health as a working mom:
1. Stress Management
Work-life balance is a phrase we are all too familiar with. We all want to get to the perfect place of Zen of having the perfect work-life balance. However, oftentimes, when a working mom is looking for greater work-life balance, she’s actually looking to manage stress better. Not all stress is bad stress. Pressure and stress to a certain degree can help us prioritize and can help us move forward. Chronic, overwhelming stress however is bad stress and does not help.
The art of stress management is shifting from the acute stress response of Fight-Flight- or -Freeze to a sense of calm. You need to figure out what helps you specifically manage stress, and to be able to do so, you need to stay present or shift to the present instead of allowing the negative rush of emotions/thoughts to take over. Some ways of being present:
Be Mindful. Stop thinking about all the things on your to-do list. Focus on the right here, right now. Try a mindfulness exercise to stay in the moment and step away from the overwhelm.
Meditate. While you can do mindfulness meditation, you can also meditate to clear your mind.
Move your body. You’ve probably read about how exercise can positively impact you. Staying healthy, getting your blood flowing, and releasing those endorphins is a good way to manage stress.
2. Boundaries Management
As a working mom, you don’t want things to slip through the cracks. We stay connected, in part, so that we don’t miss a thing. However, our minds need downtime each night to be at our best. Sure, you might have seasons when you work late, however, working long hours and having high-stress long term can lead to burnout, and without boundaries, you are most likely going to be in a place where you are spread too thin. We need downtime to help us with stress management.
So, why do boundaries matter? Boundaries are important for moms, particularly if you are working from home. These boundaries make us better at our jobs and as moms today and over time. Some ways to set boundaries:
Boundaries are about you, and not about others. Begin by understanding, defining, and acting on what makes sense for you.
Set a schedule so people know when you’re actively working. It’s similar to your normal hours in an office. When your time is done, you can shift your focus to family and life. It also helps you be more present.
Set no electronics times and/or zones. No phone or electronics time for a set amount of time each day, at a specific time of day, or in a specific area, especially when you’re with family unless it’s an emergency.
As working moms, it’s easy to put the needs of your family or work front and center. You’re often pulled in many directions and self-care moves down the already long to-do list. Your overall wellness must however take center stage. You must make the time for self-care to be at your best. Self-care is not selfish, it is self-love.
Some ways to ensure self-care:
Aligning Self - You should first clarify what you need by asking the right questions. Acknowledge you can’t be there for everyone and seek solutions that are right for you and your busy life.
Focus on small moments of self-care. Instead of trying to schedule the occasional spa day. Yes, spa days are amazing, but what about the other days of the month or year? Self-care once in a while cannot suffice. Instead, take a moment each day or multiple days through the week to fill your cup.
Getting enough sleep absolutely matters. Have a nighttime routine that gives your mind and body that signal that it’s time to shift to falling asleep instead of getting things done.
4. Give yourself Grace
Stressful moments happen. Bad days happen. Sick kids are normal. A missed deadline is not the end of the world. Give yourself space and grace to have hiccups in life to remove the pressure, and consider adding buffers throughout the day to deal with the things that come up. Don’t get down on yourself for being human if you’re dealing with these challenges.
It's OK to ask for help.
You deserve a robust sense of psychological safety. If you are struggling to do it on your own, that’s OK too. Seek professional support and guidance from a mental health professional on an appropriate treatment plan to help manage symptoms of chronic stress, depression, and/or mental health challenges.
At RAI Counseling, our group of culturally sensitive counselors are available to connect. Contact us to speak to someone.