Nurture Your Family – But Don’t Forget Yourself
By Amy Tiemann
From the editors: “Mommy Mojo” is that feeling a woman gets when she’s at the top of her game, juggling motherhood and a busy life, plus keeping her own needs in balance. But anyone who has actually tried to achieve that state knows it takes work. In her book Mojo Mom (Gotham Books, 2009), Amy Tiemann – who has spent time as a high school teacher, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience, and is herself a mother – seeks to help women answer the question, “Who am I now that I’m a mom?” Here’s a peek at her plan for re-setting your priorities.
Many of these activities can be done by yourself but are more effective if you do them with a group of trusted friends.
1. Take stock of your activities, obligations, and priorities. On a big piece of paper list all of the activities you regularly include in your schedule.
Include specific housework and parenting tasks. Look over your calendar to make sure you capture all that you do, and don’t forget to count the tasks you perform when you feel like you’re doing nothing – the work you do that is so ever-present and automatic that it doesn’t make it onto a to-do list. You may be amazed at how long your list is. Label each activity as fun, meaningful, or absolutely necessary, or none of the above.
2. Can you cross off the items on your to-do list that you have identified as neither fun, nor meaningful, nor absolutely necessary, and gracefully bow out of those obligations?
Remember that you are not doing anyone a favor by taking on jobs that you can’t give your full attention. Have the courage to say no, or even, “I made a mistake by taking on this responsibility.
Can I help you find someone else to take over this task?” Practice this by role-playing saying no with friends.
3. What do you want more of in your life? On your list of priorities, add time for yourself, time for your own interests and goals, and time alone with your partner if it’s not already on your list.
4. Get together with your friends for a moms’ night out to give voice to each woman’s goals, and brainstorm ways to begin to move toward them. Commit to supporting one another as you move forward.
Your friends may have connections and ideas that can help propel you toward destinations that now seem unattainable.
The very act of expressing your goals to a group of trusted friends may give you the extra motivation you need to get started.
5. If there is an element of your “former life” that you really miss but cannot bring back in the same form, discuss the essence of what you enjoyed about that activity. Then brainstorm ideas for new outlets that could fulfill the same need.
6. Hold a family meeting to discuss the changes that may need to take place.
Encourage your partner and kids to examine their priorities as well. Your family may be more than willing to give up being stressed and overscheduled in exchange for a more relaxed family life. If you encounter resistance to change, listen carefully to what your family has to say, but stand your ground and remind your family how important these requests are to you. This is a good time to point out that a happy, well-rested, balanced mom will be a lot more fun to be around than a frazzled stress monster!
Reprinted in L.A. Parent , A Dominion Parenting Media magazine, with permission from Mojo Moms: Nurturing Yourself While Raising a Family (Gotham Books, 2009) by Amy Tiemann, Ph.D.