Over the last several years – ever since my husband and I decided to have children – I’ve read lots of books and articles about the idea of giving up the supermom ideal and getting over the fact that we can’t “do it all” if we want to do any of it well. The Minimalist Mom recently wrote about rejecting the supermom ideal and I think her post will resonate with a lot of people. Basically, it’s all about prioritizing, and doing the things that are truly important to each of us, rather than trying to do it all. It’s an excellent reminder to focus on what matters and well worth reading.
I’m fully on board with that idea, but I see it as the way to truly be a “supermom” rather than feeling like I’m giving up on the idea of being “supermom”. The way I look at it, being “supermom” has nothing to do with juggling 75 different hats. To me, it means focusing my energies on the things that will make my life and my family’s life as great as possible. That has nothing to with carting my boys off to lots of different activities, scheduled play dates, or advanced early learning preschools. It has nothing to do with having a spotless house every second of the day (although I do like to keep it reasonably clean). It has nothing to do with keeping myself so busy that I never have time to read to my boys or build snowmen with them. It has nothing to do with trips to Disneyland or themed birthday parties or working extra hours to be able to afford the newest toys and the best professional photographer to take pictures of my little guys. The list goes on and on here, and will be different for each of us. I may not give a hoot about themed birthday parties, but another mom might love them. Go for it. Just make sure you’re focusing your time and energy on stuff that actually makes you and your family happy, rather than what you think is supposed to make you happy, or what you see other people doing. Trust me, it might not be making them happy either.
Instead of saying that we’re rejecting the ideal of being a supermom (ostensibly, the mom who “does it all” – a career, a family, a perfect house, PTA meetings, lessons for every activity under the sun, etc.), why don’t we just focus on the fact that there’s really nothing “super” at all about that sort of life, for the vast majority of people. True, there may be some people – I imagine they are few and far between – who truly thrive on constant stress and are actually able to devote themselves 100% to numerous different aspects of a fully-packed schedule. But I think that most of us – if we’re honest about what really matters and what really contributes to our enjoyment of life – feel better when we don’t try to do too much. When we have a little downtime in our days. When we don’t fall into bed each night completely exhausted and dreading the alarm clock, but also already running through the next day’s to-do list.
We all have to earn a living. We can adapt our lifestyles to fit a lower income if we prefer to work less, although that’s not appealing to everyone. Some families choose to have one parent work full time and the other focus on the house and children full time. Some have both work full time and share the household duties. Some mix it up with part time work for both parents. Some are single parents who have to do it all. In our house, my husband works full time at our business; I work very part-time at our business and spend most of my time taking care of the children and the household chores. It works for us. If we choose to have children, we have to figure out the best way to go about raising them – it won’t be the same for everybody, nor should it. Life is not all fun and games, and it would probably get old pretty fast if it were. But once we pare down to the basics and get those covered, we have options in terms of where we focus our time and energy. Saying no to some of the activities and expenses (that are sometimes initially seen as necessary) might be just the thing we need. Less is more when it comes to filling up our days. Instead of a several hours at the mall shopping for the perfect Christmas gifts for everybody you know, spend a those hours reading books with your children or playing tag with them at a local park. Catch up via phone or skype or email with the people for whom you would have been buying gifts. Instead of feeling exhausted at the end of the day, you’ll feel great. And you won’t have to work as much to earn money to pay for all the gifts.
So instead of saying that we’re giving up on being supermom (which makes it sound a bit like we’re throwing in the towel), let’s say instead that we’re focusing on what really matters. We’re giving up the extraneous stuff that was just draining our energy, wasting time, and making us feel badly about ourselves because of the constant comparisons with other moms. And that leaves us free to truly be supermoms. Or superdads. Or superfriends. Or super-whatever-is-most-important-to-us.