The Plight of the Over-Zealous Mom - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

The Plight of the Over-Zealous Mom

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We've all been there.  Anyone who is a newer parent, in particular, has high hopes of creating the "perfect" balance between family life, work, household management, school and extra-curricular activities.  And, with all of the above priorities tugging at a limited 24-hour time window, personal well-being and time for couple-hood often slide, woefully, to the bottom of the "delightful chaos"!  With the busy schedules that so many of us lead, the clear aim is to get "there" all in one piece.  The problem is, as they say, "there is no there … there."  The "there," of course, being the state of perfect parenthood.  All moms eventually learn that this Holy Grail is, alas, just a myth.  We all try our best to juggle multiple balls and responsibilities, offer the most rewarding and stimulating experiences to groom and nurture little minds and hearts, and keep a healthy routine in place.  But the reality for many is that we end up overly-busy … and often overwhelmed, especially when we try to take on too much.  And, nowhere is this more applicable than for women who also work – in or out of the home.

As an entrepreneur and mother of multiples, I've learned the hard way that there are only so many hours in the day – and in the end it always comes down to priorities.  In our home, our kids' well-being is always our top focus, as it is for so many parents with young children.  Still in their early developmental years and just starting grade school, their needs by choice and necessity simply come first for us.  But as we also endeavor to run a family business, there is little time in the end for the personal well-being that all parents – both men and women – need to stay balanced, happy and healthy.  How can moms in particular make sense of the roller coaster and enjoy the ride? 

Here are a few tips from the trenches and from life lessons well-learned:

  • Embrace the knowledge that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.  All that any parent can do is make conscious, mindful choices in a responsible, loving manner with the best interest of children and family at heart.  There will be mistakes.  But all that children really need is love – that's what they'll remember more than the extra activities, plethora of play dates, and after-school classes.  Take solace in the insight that sometimes our best efforts really are "enough."
  • Take care of the basics.  Especially new moms, who fall into the Mommy Bubble, can easily forget to manage the basics.  Sleep.  Eat right.  Exercise. 
  • Avoid the pitfall of Mommy Burn-out.  Building in some personal time is "OK" and actually far healthier for our relationship with our children.  A mom who is able to set appropriate boundaries and maintain physical, spiritual and emotional symbiosis sets a positive example for her kids – showing them through loving example how to bring moderation and balance to their own lives as they grow and mature.  Plus, she will be infinitely more "present" for her children if she isn't overly taxed and frazzled.  Pursue the occasional past time that "fills you up" (a spa visit, time with friends, a walk on the beach, or other soul re-charging experiences) and integrate at least one special activity into your regular routine – assisting your spouse to do the same.   According to Dr. Sears of "attachment parenting" fame, "women who are the most highly motivated to be good mothers are most at risk for burnout."  So, overachievers beware – and take five.  On second thought, make that 30!
  • Don't over-schedule.  Avoid the temptation of signing your child up for another activity just because his or her friends are enrolled.
  • Seek out and employ organizational tools to make life easier.  There are great online resources and digital app's at your disposal – from family activity and financial planners, to recipe sharing, to task organizers.  
  • Take turns with your spouse.  Especially if you are actively co-parenting, alternate various child-rearing responsibilities rather than moving through weekly routines as a family "unit" (or what my husband and I call "three-legged race" parenting).  There are many times for togetherness, but on occasions, dividing and conquering simply makes more sense and leaves one partner with essential personal time. 
  • Set-aside weekly couple time!  Establish a standing "date night" – childcare permitting.  Having a regular re-connect point for you and your mate to share time, conversation and experiences outside of parenting activities is critical for a healthy relationship.  Hold the window!  This is especially important when children are little – during the years that are so demanding of a couple's time and focus.  Don't wait for parenting to calm down to enjoy your life and marriage.  As e-zine (3) MomLife Today states "the reality is that life doesn't calm down – it just becomes more complicated with more options!"
  • Leverage relationships with other moms and parent couples to build a true support network with the new peers linked to your children's school, daycare or extra-curricular activities.  Aside from the social benefits of enjoying these relationships, consider creating a rotating play date circle, where one mom takes three to four kids for a play date one week and then swaps with another mom the next week who does the same, and so on.  This enables the kids to build enriching friendships and allows participating moms to run errands or relax.  

Lastly, breathe!  Remember that your little ones' young childhood will be a fleeting moment in our and their lives.  It is a joyful and wild roller coaster that sets us all on auto-pilot merely to keep up with the excitement!  Relish in the knowledge that these most precious of days go by in the blink of an eye – and be in this moment.  The gift of time and love is the greatest achievement we can ever pass along.  To them, it is perfection … delivered with a huge bow.

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