Have you ever been in the following or a similar scene?
You are running out the door in the morning, kids in tow, and worrying about what your colleagues think about that project you just completed.Their approval is really important to you. You know it’s going to be a hectic day… just like most. The children have afterschool activities, and when those are over, you have to cook dinner, pick up clothes, supervise homework, and do laundry. Oh, and you have to call that PTA mom because you really want to be involved on a committee. Okay, well not so much because you really want to, but because it looks good and you know you should do it. And maybe you’ll stop by your mom’s assisted living facility tonight because you feel guilty about not having seen her in two days. Sure, she’s being cared for and you can call her on the phone, but still… At day’s end, you know you’ll be wiped out, just like every other day. Time to exercise or just be alone? Ha! Special time with the hubby? Forget it.
Oh, goodness… I certainly hope you aren’t the fictional woman in the above situation, but her life is close to the daily lives of many women. I am exhausted from just writing that paragraph!
When I found myself suddenly widowed at age 33 with a second grader and a toddler, I wondered how I’d raise those guys into productive men. My closest family was 5 hours away; and the perfectionist in me couldn’t begin to comprehend how I would even tackle this.
But here I am today, having raised those now grown men (my joys!), having done a lot right, and having made many mistakes from which I learned important lessons. And what do I want for you?
I want you to THRIVE as a mother and fully embrace life, to ditch the need for approval, to stop trying to be “perfect,” to make important time for yourself, and to keep your marriage alive and loving.
Here are 5 self-defeating behaviors I can help you with through my coaching and speaking practice:
1. TRYING TO BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE. Guess what? You cannot be everything to everyone. Nope. Not possible.
And why would you want to be everything to everyone? There’d be nothing left for you, except your own empty cup from which you cannot pour.
We mothers often feel guilty because we feel like failures when we don’t live up to our expectations (Read that: Our expectations) of being everything for everybody. Rather than trying to create balance in our lives, we just keep giving and giving and pouring and pouring until nothing is left. We don’t give ourselves or the people in our lives our best. We can’t because we are tired and empty and spent.
Here’s how I can help you: I have been in your place. I was an only parent of two school-age sons for over 16 years; and during that time, I was briefly a stay-at-home mother and volunteer and later, a full-time working mother. I made mistakes. I occasionally tried pouring from a bone-dry cup. I learned the hard way (think insomnia and a lot of tears) that doesn’t work, so I learned techniques and mind shifts, interwoven with great dependence on God, to help me keep my cup full and know that I cannot be everything… to anyone. I will share important insights and proven practices with you!
2. NEEDING TO BE VALIDATED BY OTHERS. Is it really important what others thing about you?
I think the vast majority of people do want to be liked and respected, but I will tell you this: Most people don’t give you a second thought at night when they are preparing dinner for and interacting with their own families or whatever it is they do. Our egocentric selves think others are thinking about us and what we are doing or not, but think about it: How much brain space do you give to other people outside your own family? Not much, I am betting.
Here’s how I can help you: As I previously said, I believe most of us want to be liked and respected, but our validation? Ultimately, our sense of self and purpose comes from our being unique creations of God; and as such, we should strive for excellence in all we do (not perfection, as I mention in the next point). I will help you get grounded in your worth as a woman of God with a calling to both motherhood and your work. I’ll help you pull yourself from the mire of needing the approval of others. And needing an “atta girl” at work from time to time? That’s not a bad want, and we can talk about how to get that, too!
3. TRYING TO BE PERFECT. Ah, perfection… another unrealistic and unattainable quest. Let me ask you: How does “perfect” look in your life? What does that mean to you?
Perfection does not exist. I repeat: Perfection does not exist.
I think most women know in their heart of hearts that they cannot be perfect, but, still, we try. We want our kids to be the best in their classes. We want a perfect marriage, whatever that means. We seek the perfect, squeaky clean home, and the perfect bodies. If you don’t buy into these desires, congratulations! How often we wear ourselves out in the quest for perfectionism.
Here’s how I can help you: I suffered from an eating disorder in college and in early adulthood. It all started when I discovered I could run really well, and I became a bit obsessed with my body. I am a petite and fit woman, but I weighed 20 lbs. less the day I graduated from college as a near perfect graduate (3.69 GPA, but in my mind, I should have made it to 4.0+). As a young mother, I wanted a perfect home and knocked myself out picking up toys that little boys scattered everywhere. When my children were in school, especially high school, I felt pressured (my own perceptions) when it came to my sons and whether or not they took Advanced Placement classes. I finally decided to give up that ideal and continue to raise them with love, an observant eye, and a lot of encouragement, not pressure. I can’t deny my sons have both turned out quite well, both personally and professionally.
So, yes, I know what it’s like to try to be perfect. I can help you have a more realistic and less stressful life while learning to strive for excellence, not perfection.
4. NOT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF. No time, to exercise, right? You get less sleep than anyone in your household. You “have to” do such and such.
Questions: Who’s taking care of you? Whose responsibility is it to take care of you?
I don’t know your answer to that first question, but I can certainly tell you the answer-the correct answer-to the second question: YOU!
Self-care is the most important thing you can do for yourself on a daily basis. You cannot take care of your children or anyone else in your family if you are not taking care of yourself first. On an airplane in a situation of decreasing oxygen levels, you place the mask on your own face first, then you help your child or the person next to you. You can’t help anyone if you are struggling to breathe.
And isn’t that how we often feel when we are so heavily burdened with work and after-school activities and domestic duties and homework? My childrearing years are long past, but as an only parent with no family support nearby, I had to learn pretty quickly to unselfishly take care of me, for both myself and my children.
Here’s How I Can Help You: I have lived a a life of balance-for the most part-as a single mother, and my sons not only survived… they thrived, and I have thrived, too! I say this from a place of deep humility, but it’s true. I can help you get a bird’s eye view of your own life (a very important concept) and see where you need to make changes. I have helped many working and stay at home mothers easily make important changes to their schedules and even their eating habits to help them feel better and achieve balance. As a certified life coach, stress-relief coach, and a 30+ years practitioner of self-care, I’ll show you how to do it your way.
5. POOR COMMUNICATION SKILLS WITH YOUR SPOUSE OR CHILDREN. No time for romance with your husband, much less a hug in the hallway? Fighting ongoing battles with your kids regarding their school attire? I’ve been in both places, and neither place is good. No further comment is needed here, but…
Here’s How I Can Help You: My late husband and I always made time for each other. Sure, we had some bumps in our marriage-it’s the rare marriage that doesn’t- but for the most part, we communicated openly, kept the romance alive, and were each other’s best friends. It’s not always easy, and it takes work. This aspect of families and marriage is so important to me that I have completed the Active Parenting leader training program and am currently enrolled in a Relationship Communications Specialist program. I will teach you ways in which you can re-open the lines of communication within your family and live a life of happiness. I don’t guarantee 100% bliss all the time, but you can make your life better!
If you are challenged with one or more of these self-defeating and no good behaviors and beliefs, contact me at www.amywaltoncoaching.com, or email me at email@example.com I offer a FREE 30-minute phone consultation to potential clients, so let’s talk! I want to help you live your best life and fully enjoy the great adventure of motherhood!
I am also available to speak at your next meeting or conference, so, again, let’s talk!