The Supermom Myth: Single Moms & the Danger of "Doing it All"
In today’s society, moms are under increasing pressure to do it all: from coping with the hardships of pregnancy, to caring for baby, to playing a dominant (and sometimes the only) parenting role. But this "supermom syndrome"—in which moms are expected to be the breadwinner and put supper on the table—is leading to increasing health problems, for both stay at home moms, as well as working moms. If the supermom who brings her kids to soccer practice, pays the bills and volunteers on the parent committee at school is indeed a myth, then why do so many women still feel compelled to do it all?
The Dangers of Being A Supermom
When a mom falls under the trap of feeling that she must to do it all, the effects on her health can be severe. Not only do the responsibilities associated with motherhood affect a woman’s physical well-being, but it also can affect her mental and emotional health.
The physical demands of being a mom can be extremely challenging. When a newborn baby arrives, a new mom must handle the responsibilities of feeding, particularly if she is breastfeeding. Single moms must take care of feeding responsibilities all on their own, and moms who also work must struggle to balance home and work life. Other parenting responsibilities include changing diapers, and when baby is a little older, potty training.
Because of these physical demands, moms often must cope with mental health problems such as isolation, stress, and anxiety. Some new moms even develop a postpartum depression. These mental health conditions can lead to more severe ones, including major depression or an anxiety disorder. In addition, these conditions can not only affect your own health, but your relationships and family as well.
How to Create Balance in Your Life
It is essential to establish balance in your life in order to be physically, emotionally and mentally able to cope with the everyday challenges of being a mom, whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom.
These parenting tips will help you establish balance in your life:
- Don’t buy into the myth that you need to offer your child everything. Feeling that you have to provide your children with everything in the world will quickly lead to a sense of failure, guilt and stress, all of which will affect your ability as a mom and your relationship with your baby or child, and in many cases, with your partner or spouse. Avoid spoiling your baby with unnecessary gifts; when your child is older, limit his extra-curricular activities to one. This will reduce stress in your schedule as well as save money; plus, it will reduce stress in your child’s life and help her cultivate the activity she is most passionate about, instead of forcing her to participate in an overwhelming array of activities.
- Make time for your self. Set aside 10, 15 or 30 minutes a day in order to have some time to yourself. Take a bath or go for a relaxing stroll. Don’t feel guilty about enjoying some alone time; it does not mean that you are being selfish or are an inattentive mother. In fact, it will help re-energize you so that you have more energy to spend with your baby or child.
- Recognize that your family is an integral part of your life. Be sure to take time to truly appreciate the special moments of being a mom. Don’t get too caught up in the craziness of being a new mom not to appreciate your baby’s milestones; if the laundry didn’t get done today, it will get done tomorrow. Make the effort to spend special time with your child outside of the daily routine; read her a bedtime story or have her help with cooking dinner on taco night.
- Remember who you are as a person. While being a mom, and especially a new mom, can sometimes be an all-encompassing role, remember not to lose sight of the fact that you are your own person, with unique interests, needs and passions. Pick up a hobby that you used to love, such as painting or playing the piano, or find a new hobby that you’ve been meaning to try, such as learning a new language or joining the local library’s book club. These things will help you nurture the independent, unique person that you are, and teach your child the importance of maintaining a strong sense of self, which is probably the greatest lesson you can teach your child.