The Art & Science of Being Self-Ful
Five ways to get from “running on empty” to becoming the Mom you’re meant to be.
Driving downtown one day, I happened to notice a bumper sticker that read: “I am Woman. I am invincible. I am tired.” Boy, did I laugh when I saw that!! Haven’t we all been there?! As Moms, we live in a perpetual state of busyness. From being on-demand 24/7 and juggling children, home management, work, relationships, and the never-ending to-do lists, we are constantly performing superhuman feats of multi-tasking while we take care of others. We strive to do the invincible…and yes, we are tired.
For many Moms, this state of constant busyness and the overwhelmed, exhausted feelings that go along with it are seen as normal – it’s all part of the mommy experience. However, I’ve learned firsthand that over time this busyness and tiredness can turn into something that experts are now calling Depleted Mom Syndrome (DMS). In DMS, you’re physically and emotionally exhausted, irritable, moody, eating poorly, and you don’t feel like you’re being the Mom you want or are meant to be. Life falls way out of balance and you’re “running on empty.”
Are You “Running On Empty”?
Answer the following questions to see if you might be running on empty:
- Do you feel stressed out and “frazzled” much of the time?
- Does your life feel like one big “to-do” list?
- Do you feel like you never have any time for yourself?
- Are you emotionally exhausted, feeling like you have nothing left to give?
- Do you have an unusually low tolerance for frustration?
- Are you irritable and moody much of the time?
- Do you feel guilty about not being the Mom you want to be?
If you answered yes to three or more questions, it’s time to re-fuel and take back your life!
The good news is that “running on empty” does not have to be a way of life – it is preventable and treatable. The solution: invest in you.
Okay, so you’re probably thinking: “Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard that a thousand times” or “Yeah right, like I have time to invest in myself.” You may even be thinking that investing in yourself is a selfish idea. Most of us, at some level, have adopted the belief that Moms are supposed to be “self-less” – we’re supposed to have a noble and unselfish concern for the welfare of others. The truth of the matter is that being “self-less” is just that – it is a state of being that is without “self.” I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly not a state of being that I want for myself or to model for my children.
If we want our children to be happy and have a strong sense of self-worth, then it is up to us to model that for them. As Moms, we need to appreciate and respect our own self-worth and take the time to be what I call self-ful. Being self-ful does not mean selfish or self-absorbed. It means that you care enough about yourself to look after your own needs so that you can better look after the needs of those around you – especially those of your children.
As a Mom, you are in one of the world’s most demanding and most important jobs. But verging on Depleted Mom Syndrome while you take care of everyone else is not going to get that job done successfully. You are meant for much more than that.
Take the time to be Self-ful. You’ll give yourself, your children, and your family one of the greatest gifts imaginable – a happy, fulfilled and loving mother.
Here are five ways you can get started on being Self-ful:
- Forget perfect. Go for great. If the words perfect, best, or should exist in your vocabulary, get rid of them! Thinking in these terms will not only rob you of precious energy, but also will put tremendous stress and pressure on you and your family – it leaves little room for mistakes and prevents us from seeing what’s really important. Embrace imperfection and focus on what’s real and important to you. Both you and your family will thank you for it.
- Take time to recharge and restore. If you don’t already, begin a habit of taking some much needed time for yourself to refuel your physical and emotional energy. Recharging can be anything from a spa treatment to a walk in the park to ten minutes with a cup of tea and a good book – whatever you need to restore your energy. Just do it!
- Maintain hormonal balance. Hor-monal imbalances play a huge role in the moodiness, fatigue, irritability and “running on empty” feelings many Moms experience. I know you won’t want to hear this one, but yes, nutrition and exercise are the two biggest keys to maintaining hormonal balance! Increasing your protein intake, reducing complex carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine in your diet and taking a multi-vitamin formula designed for women will go a long way in optimizing hormonal balance. Exercise that gets your heart rate up is also an important way to decrease stress hormones and increase the body’s “feel good” chemicals.
- Speak kindly to yourself. In our quest to do what’s best for our children, we often beat ourselves up and feel guilty when things don’t turn out the way we think they should. When you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself of all of your successes as a Mom and that you have everything you need to be a great parent. Speak to yourself as you would to your child whose learning something new.
- Connect with YOU. Being a Mom is a role – it does not define who you are as a person. Take some time to identify and engage in something that will help you connect with your authentic self. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take an art class, play a sport, or start a journal.
Whatever it is, take the time to start doing something that is just for you. You’ll be a better Mom and a better you!
©DreamKids 2006. Dr. Kelly Pryde is the president and founder of DreamKids – a company dedicated to celebrating and developing the potential of children and families. A speaker, author, consultant and mother of two, Kelly holds a Ph.D. in Psychology with expertise in child development, learning and behavioral science. To learn more visit www.dreamkids.ca.