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SALT LAKE CITY — "Come on boys, we need to go! You're going to be late to swim team!" I yell.
"Don't they know I am doing this for them?" I muse. "What is wrong with them? Why do they move so slowly when we have to go?"
I glance at tomorrow's schedule: Cub Scouts and piano lessons. The next day shows swim lessons and a church meeting. I also have an activity I need to plan and a Sunday lesson to think about. Where will I cram in weekly laundry and grocery shopping?
Another month passes. I quickly grow more impatient, frustrated, and flat-out mean. My children are on edge and bicker regularly. My life is spiraling out of control — all in the name "Super Mom."
How I wish I could have a heart-to-heart chat with my younger-self. I would tell her, "Damara dear, I know you want to be a good mom, but your red, shiny cape has to go!"
At the time, I failed to realize most of the stress and frustration was self-inflicted. In my crazed need to be Super Mom (a.k.a. "Perfect Mom") I forgot what mattered most — my children.
Back then, I believed I was acting in my children's best interest when, in fact, I was subconsciously driven by selfish motives — a desire to "look" like Super Mom. Plus, my hectic schedule made me feel important and validated.
The result: I was miserable and so were my children.
I have since discovered three ways my Super Mom image needed to be adjusted:
1. Stop overscheduling
Be careful about overscheduling your children. I'm not recommending removing all activities. Instead, closely inspect your calendar for the next week. If your children have more than two activities scheduled per week, thoughtfully consider which ones might be unnecessary.
Imagine the mom with five children who each have three or more weekly activities (some occurring on multiple nights). This Super Mom has agreed to juggle 20 or more activities per week, and that doesn't even include her own events. It's a lot to volunteer for!
Counsel together as a family and brainstorm what adjustments need to be made. Also, keep in mind activities do not need to be evenly spread between children. If one child only has one weekly activity, he doesn't need an extra one to even things out. Trying to be fair and equal causes more problems than it helps.
2. Set personal boundaries
Be mindful of your personal boundaries. When you always say "yes" to everyone's requests, you are saying "no" to you and your family. Of course you want to help others and chip in, however, you can say "yes" too much and later feel resentful instead of happy you are serving. It is OK to tell some people, "I am too busy right now. Thank you for asking me."
3. Forget perfection
Your house does not have to be perfect. Often women feel their home is a reflection of who they are. While you are the heart of your home, you do not have to keep a spotless house.
Instead, ask your kids to help you with the chores, do them together, and talk while you work. Enjoy these moments as you learn together. Keep in mind, young children love to explore and make messes — that is how they learn. Teach them and clean up together. Do not fret and stress: more important than a spotless house is a home of love.
Thankfully, I buried my Super Mom cape long ago. While I still have things to get done, I no longer overschedule my children's activities, feel guilty about telling someone "no," or hyperstress about my house. I've learned I am "enough" — and so are you!
Damara Simmons helps parents connect to their parenting brilliance so they don't accidentally disconnect their cherished relationships. Visit her website ldsparentstoolshop.com.