Today’s question comes from almost every one of my clients. So many moms have a hard time articulating what’s bothering them. They say, “My kids are on my nerves,” “I feel off my game,” or “I feel lost, stuck, bored, easily annoyed.” Whatever they say, it all seems to fall under the umbrella of TIRED. This is why I named my podcast and facebook group “Supermom is Getting Tired.” Not that my clients think of themselves as Supermoms, but they work so hard and put so much pressure on themselves to get things done and do everything right that I chose this title for them.
I find that there are 5 reasons why Supermoms get tired that have nothing to do with sleep, exercise, nutrition and hormones. These are invisible forces (kryptonite, if you will) that make moms feel like they are being dragged through their day, going through the motions, and not feeling fully alive. If you ever feel like a zombie mommy, wondering why you can’t seem to enjoy your life more, today’s podcast is for you.
5 reasons why Supermom is getting TIRED:
1. You are arguing with reality.
Wishing things were different than they are, will drain your energy. This shows up as thoughts like, “My kids should play together nicely and they don’t.” “My daughter shouldn’t resist going to bed at night.” “My son shouldn’t play so many video games.” “My husband should help out more.” “My mother-in-law shouldn’t be so nosy.”
It’s like we have this invisible rule book in our brain that says how everyone and everything should behave, and we get annoyed when our rule book isn’t followed. This rule book shows up with ourselves, husbands, our in-laws, other parents, bosses, co-workers; we even have rules about how our pets should behave!
For me, this showed up a lot with my husband. My Dad was the most organized, self-disciplined, and reliable man on the planet. An engineer by trade and an upholder tendency, meant if he said he was going to do something, he did it. Religiously. Every night before bed, like clock work, he would walk around the house, locking the doors and windows and turning off all the lights. When I got married, I expected my husband to assume this role. However, I married an impulsive, serial entreprenuer with ADHD and a
rebellious streak. This means he does NOTHING on a regular basis. Any kind of routine makes him feel imprisoned, even if it’s something he wants to do. I’ve been married over 20 years and I still wake up to find every light on in the house. It took me YEARS to realize that my husband will never do things the way my Dad did. He will never do yard work or put the garbage cans on the curb on a regular basis, but he can do a year’s worth of yard work in one day when the mood strikes. My husband is an amazingly talented, skilled, creative and fun-loving man but it can be hard to remember that when I’m stuck wishing he were more like my dad. Aligning your expectations with the reality of your experience, will give you so much more energy and appreciation for the life you are living.
2. You are “shoulding” on yourself.
What is it about our culture that puts so many perfectionistic expectations on moms? Is it that we learned to put pressure on ourselves through school and our careers, that we then bring into parenting? Many moms think of parenting like it’s their job, meaning that they believe it should be hard work and that they are supposed to do everything right. The problem with this, is that kids learn by imitation and we are stressing them out when we aren’t relaxed, happy, and playful. There is no “right” way to parent but we put so much energy into trying to do everything perfectly that it leaves us exhausted.
Here’s the common problem that myself and many clients, find themselves in:
While folding laundry, you are thinking, “I really should get dinner started.” So you stop folding laundry and start dinner. As you are cooking you are thinking, “I need to send that email before I forget!” At the computer you see someone’s facebook post and think, “I’ve got to get our summer vacation plans started”. While researching vacation rentals, you think, “Crap, I have to go pick up the kids but I should have scheduled that doctor’s appointment while I was on the computer and paid that bill.”
This scenario causes exhaustion for three reasons. First, we are putting so much pressure on ourselves with the words “have to, need to, should”. These words make us feel like responsible hard workers, but also prisoners. Second, when we constantly juggle and multi-task, we don’t get the sense of accomplishment and completion that so many of us crave. Lastly, our energy goes where our attention goes. When your body is doing dishes but your brain is thinking about laundry, your energy is split into two. If you are at work thinking “I’d rather be at home” or at home wishing you had a job to go to, you will exhaust yourself without even knowing how or why you are so tired.
3. You are trying to control something you have no control over.
I know a Mom who has the thought “I can’t relax until my kids are happy.” With 3 dramatic kids, it’s a rare moment when all of them were happy. Which means she spent years believing she couldn’t relax. She feel
s like she always needs to be available to them should they need her for anything. She’s a loving mom and very close with her kids, but feels constantly fatigued and lost. She struggles to take time to herself or do things that she would enjoy. This mom thought she control their happiness.
This causes exhaustion for two reasons, the first is that she wanted her kids to be happy all the time. We are wired to experience a wide range of human emotions, about 50% of which will be negative. To live a real, human experience, we need to feel happiness, but also disappointment, sadness, anger, jealousy, you name it. The other reason trying to make kids happy causes fatigue is that people get to feel whatever they want to feel. Have you ever tried to cheer someone up or talk them out of feeling bad and they just would not budge? Some people WANT to feel negative emotion. We don’t get to choose other people’s emotions for them and when we try to control it, we end up feeling resentful, lost and TIRED.
4. You are resisting emotions.
Some clients have an area of their life that they really don’t want to think about. It could be a fight with a family member that they never reconciled or a job they got fired from which caused them embarrassment. Trying not to think about something that causes negative emotions is exhausting but it is very easy to
solve! If clients only knew how much more relaxed and energized they would feel for such little effort, they wouldn’t believe it! The problem is that these unprocessed emotions can be very sneaky and hard to spot. I’ll use an example from my own life.
I witnessed a horrible accident while on spring break in Lake Havasu. I was on a boat with a hundred other people, watching a couple people on their jet skis. One tried to jump his jet ski over the other one, hitting him in the head and causing his death. It was AWFUL. No one else on the entire boat seemed to notice, understand, or care about what I had just seen. I was shaken to my core. I wanted to go out there
to comfort or help somehow but I couldn’t. Witnessing this event was traumatic for me but I tried to leave it behind me. I never thought about it consciously but years later when I had kids and a swimming pool, I developed terrible anxiety that something bad would happen and they would drown. Anytime I was at a water park, ocean, or community pool, I had the thought, “It’s my job to make sure everyone stays safe” (even when life guards were on duty). This anxiety compounded when my impulsive, fun loving husband bought a boat for our family. I was in a constant state of fight or flight on that maiden voyage. My anxiety was preventing me from doing things I really enjoyed so I knew it was time to get over it once and for all. I was a MESS until I got some coaching and used my ACT tools to finally process the emotions of that accident I witnessed years earlier. Having a pool and boat ended up being a blessing because it gave me lots of opportunity to re-wire my brain to relax around water. Once I was able to process the emotions from witnessing this terrible accident, it FREED me in a way that’s hard to explain. It’s like suddenly I had access to a deeper level of relaxation and a reservoir of energy that I had never had access to before.
5. You are ignoring your calling.
We are all born with certain interests, talents, and proclivities. Our job, during our lifetime, is to figure out what these things are and to use them to make the world a better place. You felt called to become a mom, now that you have accomplished that task and soaked up your new identity as mom, it’s time to figure out “what’s next?” Many moms follow what culture suggests, but this can cause exhaustion if a mom is trying to live a life that isn’t right for them.
My client Teresa was an ivy league, super-achiever. She knew how to be successful and rise to the top of any organization she worked for and her resume was impressive. Her job and family relied on her full time but when her girls were 4 and 7 she couldn’t deny this nagging voice inside her anymore. She was terrified, but finally admitted in a faint whisper, that she really just wanted to stay home, bake cookies and lead Girl’s on The Run.
To many of us, this does not sound sinful, but for her, she was going against her upbringing, her peers, her culture, everything she had been raised to believe her life should be at this stage in her life. Once she gave herself permission to want what she wants, and admit the truth out loud, she relaxed and had many creative ideas and options for the next stage of her life.
My other client, Mandy, was a stay home mom. She enjoyed it for many years but wasn’t feeling as satisfied as she once had. There was plenty to do, but she felt busy, but bored, tired and uninspired. She came to our first coaching call with the common phrase, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me”. She elaborated by saying, “I should be able to get more done. There’s all these tasks I keep procrastinating on. I just don’t feel like doing anything. I have a good life, why can’t I enjoy it more? I’m wondering if I should get a job but I don’t know how I’d find the time to do everything.”
When I asked her, “If you had no rules and no fear, what would you love to spend your time doing?”
She answered “I don’t know.”
When I replied softly, “Well, let’s pretend for a minute that you did know. What’s something you always imagined yourself doing?”
The line goes silent and the tears start flowing. It takes her a minute but she finally squeaks out a terrified, yet sacred, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer.”
Ignoring a calling can be the source of our greatest suffering.
We try so hard to fit in and live out our parent’s expectations of us, but our calling never goes away. In fact, the longer you ignore this tugging, the more tired and irritable you will become. Accepting this calling often means going against societal expectations, otherwise you would have done it by now. When you start living a life that is more suited to your uniqueness, your brain is going to freak out. It will come up with every excuse in the book as to why you should NOT take action on your calling.
I’ve coached so many clients into lives they LOVE, where they wake up everyday feeling excited and inspired and so grateful they learned to overcome their fears and pursue their passion. I know the amazing life that awaits clients on the other side of those fears but they can’t see it yet. All they know is that it sucks to not take action, but it’s terrifying TO take action.
I love helping Moms become the hero in their own life and live a life without regret. This is my life’s calling. If you are feeling TIRED and want to get a glimpse of how much better your life could be, schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me