Ninety-seven hours a week: that’s how much time the average mom spends on parenting tasks.
The list of responsibilities is endless, and if it was a paid position it would be worth the equivalent of a $100,000 dollar job, according to researchers.
But just like any job, you need a break, whether you work outside of the home or are a stay-at-home mom.
“A lot of us get so lost in becoming a mom and working that we forget what we enjoy,” says Kari Wolff, a local mother to two girls.
She is also a wife, works full time outside of the home, runs her own spray tan company, and sells activewear. But she also manages to squeeze in some time to do things for herself.
“In order for me to be my best mom and my best wife, I have to take an hour, a half-hour, whatever it might be,” says Wolff.
It’s easy to get lost in the pandemonium of life. But Theresa Porter, who is a mom and clinical therapist, says balance is the key.
“If you lose track of yourself, then your ability to be present with them emotionally, mentally, real-time is going to be a bit absent because you’re not going to have all the energy you need to give to the situation at hand,” Porter explains.
When you lose track of who you are and what you need, a negative energy sets in, and that trickles down to your children and loved ones.
“My youngest is very responsive to our energy,” says Wolff, “so if we’re angry or upset, she is too.”
So how can you prevent that frustration from setting in?
“The key is about communication, having an ongoing dialogue,” explains Porter. “It’s okay if your kids know that you’re struggling a little bit, that mom’s a little tired, or mom’s a little stressed right now, but reassure that you’re going to be okay because most importantly you have to be able to teach your children that in order to be okay, it doesn’t mean things are going perfect. It means you’re dealing with things as they come up and that’s a good skill to teach your children as well.”
But another roadblock many moms face when taking that much-needed break is “mom guilt.”
“That’s difficult,” says Wolff. “I don’t know that you can get rid of that. That’s just in the DNA of a woman and I think that it’s good that you have that because that gives you a purpose. You know that you’re doing this and you might feel horrible that you’re doing it, but you need to do it for yourself. They’re gonna be okay!”
And the reason mom should put mom first is the same logic as a flight attendant instructing you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. “If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anybody else,” says Wolff.
While the research is based on moms, we fully recognize how involved many fathers are in this day and age.
So dads, be sure you take care of you, too!