She’s strong and talented; beautifully presented. She’s got four kids, but she’s still got time to make Paleo-friendly cookies for the school charity event. She teaches her children to play the piano. Lessons are delivered and politely reciprocated in mandarin and french. Her home is spotlessly clean, despite the multiple craft activities she does with her children daily. Who is she? She’s definitely not you; believe me when I say she is not your friend… it’s time for the truth about Supermom.
Who is Supermom and where did she come from?
I believe that Super Mom was born of societal pressure to compensate for the choice to reject the workplace. The Women’s Right Movement fought hard to earn the right to be treated equally in the workplace; for equal opportunities to work, and stand shoulder to shoulder with their husbands as bread-winner. This saw a huge drop in the number of stay-at-home moms, as they all flooded into the workplace as independent career women.
‘In 1969, 44% of married women of children under 15 were stay at home mothers.” (R. Greider and D. Elliot, US Census Bureau)
By 1989 this number had decreased to 25% and hit an all-time low in 1999 at 23%. However, since then we’ve had a slow rise in the number of stay-at-home-moms, hitting 29% in 2012 and fairly unchanged since. It seems moms are slowly starting to stay at home again, and with that comes the unfortunate burden of guilt.
There’s a certain shame in turning your back on all the hard work your parents and grandparents did last century to earn equality in the workplace. As a stay-at-home mom, I find myself trying to prove to people that I am intelligent and ambitious because I can’t help but feel like my ‘non-working’ status suggests otherwise. Even once this status is accepted, I still feel I have something to prove:
‘If I’m going to be a stay-at-home mom, I’m going to be the best darn mom that ever walked the planet.’
And there it is… Supermom is born.
Is Supermom Status Truly Achievable?
Taking on the full-time role of Supermom is achievable but non-sustainable. Does Superman where his cape all day? No, he is a part-timer. The rest of the time he has a desk job is unmarried and has zero children. We could all be part-time Supermom, but that’s not how it works is it? No mom is part-time.
It should be noted that Supermom is not here to do you any favors, she is essentially a parasite. Despite everything you do to be her, she gives little back to her host, except the pressure to sustain and improve further. She’s the real reason you have bags under your eyes when you wipe away the perfect makeup, not your children. Supermom will drain you, in a quest for the unachievable. It’s really quite the superpower.
What will I Achieve by Walking Away from Supermom?
It’s time to hang up your cape Supermom, I’m onto you, and it’s time we parted ways. As one of my New Year Resolutions I pledged to give up Supermom, and I’ve got to say it’s easier said than done, she’s a sticky little critter. But deep down I know that by walking away from her I will:
- Gain emotional and physical freedom;
- Achieve clarity and break free from a head of compressed thoughts;
- Spend more time doing the things I want;
- Spend quality time with my children;
- Be healthier;
- Smile and laugh more;
How do I Ditch Supermom?
This is the tough bit. How do you stop pushing for more, and truly value what you achieve? Time to sit down and evaluate your routine.
Step 1: Evaluate
There are only so many hours in the days, and last time I checked there were seven days in a week. So, get yourself a huge piece of paper, and write down all the commitments you want or feel you need to achieve. Write down everything, just a few examples:
- Meal planning, grocery shopping, food prep, cooking, meal time.
- Washing, dishes, cleaning (divide into separate activities), ironing, bed changing.
- Yard work, pool work, trash sorting, car washing.
- Dog walking, pet cleaning.
- School drop-off and pick-up, after school clubs and helping with homework.
- Changing kids and babies, bath time and bed routines.
- Bill paying and filing.
And don’t forget the stuff you really want to be doing. Think about this one, it’s important:
- Playing, crafts, reading with your children;
- Baking, reading, working out, window shopping;
- Hanging out with friends and family;
- Decorating, DIY;
- Watching TV alone with a cup of tea;
- Taking a bubble bath.
Now, look at the list. A little overwhelmed? Yes, but don’t worry, so is Supermom. Because exposing Supermom to the reality of her existence is her kryptonite. We are on our way to freedom.
Step 2: Plan
Get yourself a planner or the calendar on your phone. I am a believer in the paper/book planner because visually it’s easier to digest, but everyone has their preference. Pick a slot for every day of the week to do something from the second list – the things you really want to do. No cheating, no-one loves ironing. It can be a short slot one day to watch 30mins of HGTV and have a cup of tea. Allow some days to have a longer slot for 3hrs with friends. Don’t try and do the whole list in one week, that’s what Supermom would do. Step away from the cape and think about what would actually be enjoyable instead of trying to cram everything in.
Now fill the rest of your planner with the practical stuff. Start with the non-negotiable – we don’t want to ditch picking up your kids from school. You may think that everything on the first list is a must, but that’s what Supermom wants you to think. She is wrong.
Don’t over fill your planner, we need some contingency here. Unless you’ve been so efficient you’ve planned for bathroom breaks, there’s going to need to be some time to spare. Don’t worry about the things you’ve missed. Book yourself a sensible, achievable, happy week. Yes, this is a lot of work, but even just one week is enough to bring life back to the real world.
Step 3: Delegate
So what do we do with the remainder of the list, I hear you ask? Now it’s time to delegate. Despite Supermom telling you otherwise, you can’t do it all. Time to call in help, whether it be your husband, kids, friends, neighbors, family, hired help or other. People that care (or get paid) will help, and it’s OK to ask.
When my sister was last in town she told me about her Saturday mornings. She has three kids older than mine and on Saturday mornings the whole family cleans the house. All five of them (Dad isn’t let off the hook) knuckle down and blitz bathrooms, put washing away, walk dogs, vacuum… the lot. Phones are confiscated, TV is off, and no other activity is carried out until every chore on the list is done. She was not only surprised how efficient everyone becomes when they work together but claims they rather enjoyed it. Teamwork is another of Supermom’s weaknesses, use it to your advantage.
My twins are 14months old and a couple of weeks ago we got a day sitter for the first time. That’s 14 months of baby routine every, single, day. I don’t have any family nearby, or even in the Country, so I don’t get to drop the babies at Granny’s house. So why hadn’t I booked a sitter before? Because Supermom expects you to do it all and paying someone else to look after your kids when you could be at work is not acceptable… but she’s wrong. I’ve done working mom, and I’ve done stay-at-home mom, and I can honestly say the break from your kids is a pleasure. Supermom won’t like me saying that because I’m supposed to revel in every moment of my children’s company. I don’t. It’s OK to be fed up with them, it’s OK to want a break from them. However you do it, just do it.
How to Really Upset Supermom
Do not think that everything on your mom list needs to be completed, it doesn’t. What Supermom really hates is skipping the ironing, ordering take out and leaving the washing up until morning. However hard our previous generations have worked for equality in the workplace, do not allow Supermom to overshadow your choices. If you consider your home your workplace, you are entitled to the same lunch breaks, vacation and human resources that every other employee is entitled too. Don’t try to be a hero, and step away from the cape.