*Note to all you Superdads out there: this applies to you too – so read on!
About once a week my kids accuse me of being ADHD. I'm not, actually, but they see the challenges I have managing the details of life, and it can look A LOT like the things I'm coaching them to manage.
Besides, it's fun to razz mom a little.
After listening to one of our guest experts recently, I've discovered the truth:
I Suffer From Stressed Out Super Mom Syndrome
Being the grown-up in the family with the most executive function can be a challenge on the best of days. Add to that single parenting, menopause, full-time job (okay, more than full time), and mostly it can be exhausting. Personally, I have complete compassion for the other moms out there who add their own ADHD to the mix – hats off to you girls!
For the most part, I wear my elevated executive function status like a badge of honor. I've got it – all!
Seriously, there are days that I handle things seamlessly, bopping from here to there, with a smile on my face, and a task-list in my hand.
But on other days, I drop the ball so quickly that I can't even remember the ones I've missed. I can hear myself muttering expletives; or worse yet, yelling them at my kids! The challenge comes when I realize that the ratio of “got it” days to “oh crap” days is not in my favor.
In reality, how we handle dropping the ball is about biology. How well our brain operates under life's stressors is directly correlated with our stress level and attitude. It's not all that different from our kids and their ADHD, or anxiety (or whatever) – a stressed out, overwhelmed brain simply can't function at optimal capacity.
So what's the solution? Something I call:
Simple Self Care for Super-Moms!
Taking care of yourself isn't all that hard, and doesn't take that much time or investment. It can make a huge difference in terms of how you are able to manage your life, and the lives of your family.
Here are my four simple steps:
1. Manage Triggers Consciously – Know what sets you off – pushes your buttons – and find ways to side step them if you can. This requires letting go of some things, or delegating others (or getting some coaching around specific triggers, which, by the way, was my salvation!). Learn about the threat cycle and practice the steps religiously when you do get triggered.
2. Do for You – A wise woman once told me that if you want your family to give you what you need – tell them what you want – or better yet, give it to yourself! Simply spending 30-60 minutes each week doing something just for you can be sufficient fuel to balance the most challenging weeks.
3. Practice Radical Compassion – At Impact, we work with parents every day around having compassion for our kids and their challenges like Anxiety and ADHD. It's equally important that we do the same thing for ourselves. If you are able to see that everyone has best intentions, and does the best that they can in the moment, including you, then supporting yourself on the rough days becomes easier. Ultimately, it requires letting go of the “should,” not taking things personally, and seeing setbacks as opportunities to learn and adjust, rather than mistakes or “failures.”
4. Let Go of Resentment – This is often the hardest because it is so intertwined in the others. We get triggered by the idea that we “have” to do everything; we get resentful that we don't have time for ourselves; and instead of having compassion for our family members and what they are capable of, we get frustrated that they aren't doing more. All of these are completely normal and appropriate reactions.
Your Reaction Is a Big Part of What's Stressing You Out!
Finding a way to be “okay” with the situation, even seeing how much it helps your kids that you are carrying a heavier load, can actually help decrease how much the situation stresses you out. Being a super-mom isn't a bad thing, and it isn't necessarily a good thing either. Finding a way to support yourself in being the kind of mom you wants to be is what is important. Spend some time looking at how you're doing managing and supporting your own life, and take some simple steps forward. Ultimately, it will make thing better for the whole family.