Scaling back the over-scheduled mom

Scaling back the over-scheduled mom

By Nicole Carpenter, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Jul. 18, 2012 at 7:34 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Somewhere along the line of mothering past and mothering present, we mothers decided we can do it all.

We simultaneously focus on family responsibilities, work obligations and community service. We can locate every lost backpack, kiss away each owie, and answer four questions at once — all while taking mental note of the items missing from the pantry.

We strap our children into their car seats and booster seats and drive them from ballet to soccer to piano. We volunteer in the classroom, manage a household, and then stay up late working on our presentation for the boardroom. We are determined to be good mothers.


When moms are frazzled and over-scheduled, the first thing to be neglected is personal self-care — sleep, healthy eating, exercise or meditation/prayer.

–Julie Hanks, LCSW


Perhaps it’s time to change the definition of what constitutes a “good mother.”

It’s true moms have so many (possibly too many) responsibilities. At MOMentity, we call areas of responsibility "roles." Undefined roles can lead to a stressed out, sleep deprived mom with an overwhelming schedule.

Licensed therapist Julie Hanks, executive director of Wasatch Family Therapy, explains, “When moms are frazzled and over-scheduled, the first thing to be neglected is personal self-care — sleep, healthy eating, exercise or meditation/prayer. Moms who neglect their personal needs for a long period of time lead to exhaustion, irritability and impatience with family members. Chronic over-scheduling can lead to exhaustion, depression and anxiety.”

As mothers, we need to take care of ourselves first in order to be able to take care of others. It’s like the oxygen masks on an airplane. If they are ever deployed, we know we must put ours on first before we help the children around us.

Over-scheduling often occurs because moms want to provide their children with the most opportunities possible. A good mother should not be defined by the number of activities completed in a given amount of time.


Over-scheduling often occurs because moms want to provide their children with the most opportunities possible. A good mother should not be defined by the number of activities completed in a given amount of time.

According to Hanks, “What children need most from their mothers is a genuine emotional connection and healthy mix of love, limits and guidance.”

Define

The first step in scaling back our schedules is defining our roles. What are your responsibilities? What are the roles you play? Some examples might be wife, mother, employee, caregiver, volunteer, community leader. Grab a piece of paper and write them all down.

Evaluate and eliminate

Once we are conscious of our roles, we can begin to evaluate them. We can literally rank them in order of importance.

It is also important to also ask ourselves, how much time does each role take? Do you have enough time? Probably not. Few of us do.

Next we must simplify our roles or eliminate them all together. Decide which roles you will choose to eliminate to make room for experiences and people that matter most.

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Protect

Once we have whittled down our roles and scaled back our responsibilities, we must protect those remaining roles. We can do this by learning to say "no."

Learning to say "no" is critical to empowering yourself and living a full life, free of extra obligations and over-scheduling.

Hanks explains, "Saying 'no' is also important to mother's mental health. Research published in the Journal of child and Family Studies last month suggests that mothers with an intense parenting style have poorer mental health than mothers with a more laid-back parenting approach. One characteristic of intense parenting is the belief that good moms are always providing stimulation for their children, and I think that belief leads many moms to take on more and more commitments and activities."

Defining and protecting our roles is critical in eliminating stress, improving our heath and providing a happy home for our children — all things that really do make us good mothers.


*

About the Author: Nicole Carpenter ----------------------------------

*Nicole Carpenter is the founder of www.MOMentity.com and the creator of The MOMentity Process. She is a communications consultant, writer and speaker. She and her husband are raising four children, 7 years and younger, including twin toddlers.**

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