I can’t recall when I made this decision–to stop the mad race to be the most admired supermom on the planet. Perhaps after years of multi-tasking which resulted in a perpetually jam-packed daily schedule, weekends included, that ultimately manifested in allergies, hyper acidity and sleeplessness, I finally said to myself: enough, slow down, be kind to yourself and rest. Easier said than done admittedly, as it is impossible to shift overnight from being a self-proclaimed workaholic, worry wart and masochist to someone who is relaxed, happy and self-fulfilled.
Nevertheless, I prod on, towards my goal to be at my best no matter what hat I’m wearing–be it wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend or employee–while keeping my sanity and balance.
Here are four reminders that I am mom enough:
1. Slave to the supermom aspiration no more. It took me more than ten years of being a working mom to realize that I don’t need to be a supermom–that I don’t have to kill myself at work and at home to be an accomplished mother and career person. I still remind myself of this everyday. If at the end of the day I wasn’t able to tick off everything on my to-do list, I create a catch-up plan to effectively manage the delay by tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day after all. I also ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I don’t get this done today?” I find that more often than not, nobody will die if I don’t finish that item on that day.
Quick tip: When creating my daily to-do list, it helps me to categorize according to priority as follows:
a) Urgent/Needs action today
b) Important but can wait a few days up to a week/Needs time to be thought out and planned
c) Important and can wait two weeks/Needs time to be thought out and planned
2. Shed the guilt. Ah, the omnipresent working mom guilt. I have felt guilty for leaving the office at 5:30 on the dot to rush home to a sick child and I have felt guilty for working from home while nursing a persistent migraine. While I’ve learned that guilt is a useless emotion, it can be debilitating nonetheless. I’ve often asked why we parents are always feeling guilty? I personally feel it’s because we fear the thought of making our children unhappy. We also fear that the time spent away from them, specially when they’re young, will damage them in some way.
Well, I would like to report that after being a working mom for 15 years, my three children have survived. And I have survived. They are in my eyes happy, well-adjusted individuals. The youngest is now a freshman in high school, the next a junior and the eldest going on as a college sophomore.
I think that while I spent a whole lot of time at work while raising my three kids has also helped me manage my time better. I have really tried to make evenings and weekends count. I’ve also recognized my weakness as their tutor and have delegated this to the experts by sending them to real tutors as needed so that time spent with them is more relaxed and meaningful when we can catch up on each others’ day (our ups and downs) versus butting heads over a math equation.
Quick tip: Whenever I start feeling guilt creeping up on me (I missed another softball or soccer game, I had to postpone the urgent pediatrician appointment to Saturday, and my personal favorite: Oh SH#T!! The hubby and the kids have no dinner!!) I remind myself of the OTHER million things I’ve actually done right throughout this working mom journey. In the grand scheme of things, are the reasons for my guilt really valid? Chances are, I was just being too hard on myself and have set such unrealistically high standards and expectations. And let’s not forget the fear of failure. Well guess what, I’m human, I make mistakes and I fail from time to time–but I’m also doing my darn best. I have given 200% Of myself and more. And if that’s not good enough for my family–then tough. So the next time there was no dinner, I calmly stopped by the nearest KFC–because nobody ever got hurt from a little fast food. Oh and I also figured out that leftovers and a can of Spam once in a while won’t kill them either.
3. Remember the value of rest and sleep. Sleeping can be a problem for me because in the back of my mind, amidst my 30-item to-do list, I am unproductive while I’m asleep. The idea of rest and idle time doesn’t sit well since I could instead be doing something more productive that will allow me to cross off more items on my list. Again, it took me more than ten years to realize how unhealthy this is. I realized the hard way that non-stop work leads to stress, burn out and will manifest physically–in my case, through allergies and migraine headaches. I am now making a conscious effort to rest and get more sleep. Whenever I do, I notice a marked improvement in my mood in the morning (I’m not a morning person) and an increase in my daily productivity at work and at home. I’ve proven that getting enough sleep makes me an overall happier and more energetic person the next day–this is such a plus for working moms. As I always say, when I get home from a long day at work, my day has just begun. I’d like to have some energy and passion left for my family in the evenings and it all starts with getting a good night’s sleep.
Quick tip: I constantly remind myself to sleep early on week nights. I set my alarm one hour before I should be in bed. When the alarm goes off, it signals me to start winding down. Winding down means I should take a shower, brush my teeth and get my work clothes ready for the next day. I then cuddle up with a book which helps me to relax. The next step is to dim the lights, being in the dark actually tells your brain it’s time to sleep and will help make you feel sleepy, quicker.
Another way to feel energetic instead of lethargic? Rest during weekends. In my line of work, I sometimes need to work Saturdays or Sundays. When this happens, I make sure to avail of a rest day between Monday to Friday within the following week. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned the value of quality time with my family on weekends. Nothing can beat catching up with the hubby and kids at a leisurely pace. On weekends we try exploring new places to eat–I just live for these simple pleasures–food adventures and long conversations with my loved ones. They make for wonderful memories. You just can’t put a price tag on that. A weekend spent with my family recharges me. The happiness prepares me for the inevitable hectic Monday up ahead. Knowing the weekend is right around the corner somehow fuels me throughout the week because I have something fun and pleasant to look forward to.
4. Love myself. I know it sounds selfish to some and it sounded selfish even to me at first. But I learned that loving myself simply means giving myself credit when credit is due and being kind to myself. The most beneficial result of loving myself is that I have become a more loving person to my family, since there’s so much more love and kindness to give.
Quick tip: On weekends, I schedule a thirty-minute back massage at the nail salon and if time permits, I have a mani-pedi or just a cleaning when I’m not in the mood for nail polish. The main purpose of the visit is the back massage. Just half an hour does wonders and gives me an added boost! (If you’re in the Alabang area try Nail Tropics at ATC).
And when I happen to pass by tthe vicinity of Bizu, I allow myself a chocolate macaron indulgence or two. Yes, I’ve finally accepted that I’m worth one or two macarons.
Starting 2015, I’ve made it a point to spend time with friends. Every month, I schedule at least one dinner on a weekday or lunch on a weekend to catch up with a friend or a group of friends. Being with people I genuinely like and feel at home with is a way to recharge. I have found that surrounding myself with positive energy from people I care about contributes to my well-being and happiness and is one way of loving myself!
My wish is for more moms to appreciate themselves and recognize their value to their family and workplace. More moms should be exclaiming, “We are mom enough!”
Do you believe you are mom enough? Why or why not? Let me know by writing your comments here or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.