Thursday, June 29, 2017

Alarming - "9 out of 10 Australian Mums are Damaging Their Health Trying To be Supermum"

In Search Of The Perfect Mother

The pressure to be perfect, has resulted in many mothers experiencing bouts of self-doubt, guilt, anxiety and depression. This pressure is often the result of having (unmet) high expectations of parenting, career advancement, financial income, social status and health. With, or without the support of a loving and helpful partner, or paid service professionals, many modern day mothers are left feeling overwhelmed, inadequate and unfulfilled.

As a mother, it’s very common to focus externally, giving all your love and devotion to your children. Young children often reward mothers for this devotion with love and affection in return, which makes this external pouring of emotion very rewarding. However, as children grow into toddlers, young children and adolescents, it can be quite a shock to experience tantrums, insolence, attempts to control every situation, attachment/rejection, arguing and anger.

At some point as a mother you are likely to experience your children becoming angry when they don’t get their own way, ignoring your requests when they simply want to behave in a different manner, telling you to “go away” when a better playmate comes along, refusing to listen and in general, misbehaving. When you’re feeling strong, it’s much easier to see these incidents as natural stages of development and not take things personally. However, when you’re feeling more vulnerable (a common consequence of trying to ‘do it all’ and be the perfect parent), it’s very easy to allow these incidents to affect your self-esteem. Add to this, the misconception that everyone else is doing a better job, it’s no wonder so many mothers feel emotionally drained from time to time.

The modern role of motherhood

Whilst mothers have greater access to professional help in the home, they are often expected to
balance their careers and motherhood by:
  • working outside of the home
  • being a supportive friend
  • raising high achieving, high self-esteem, intelligent and popular children
  • maintaining youthful looks and a high libido
  • staying fit, energetic and positive
  • managing the family social calendar
  • creating and sustaining a harmonious home
  • managing the family budget
  • undertaking most of the household chores
  • cooking the family meals, and so on...

More recently, men are taking on some of these roles and as such are also feeling strained. An article published in the Age Newspaper on 17th May 2013, reported that working fathers and mothers felt under pressure, with 47 per cent of fathers feeling they were always pressed for time, compared with 62 per cent of mothers. The research presented in this article from the Australian Institute of Family  studies also highlighted that mothers with children under the age of 5 spent:
  • 41 hours per week on childcare
  • 32 hours a week on housework
  • 14 hours a week in paid work
Thus, many mothers are working two jobs; one in the home and one outside of the home. In addition to the varied practical tasks required of mothers in the modern world, mothers are somehow expected to also cope with the emotional, physical and psychological aspects of motherhood, such as feeling exhausted, rejected, insecure, unfit, self critical, financially stressed and lonely.

It is for this reason that building resilience and self-esteem in motherhood has never been more important. Caring for your needs and ensuring you do not place your needs last, will also help you to be a stronger, more confident and happier parent.

Lizzie O'Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Personal Development Coach & Author
Cover-motherhood-and-baby-smaller Help For Mums
Giving Busy Mums Peace of Mind & Permission to Be Imperfect
C/o Happy Life, PO Box 317, Prahran VIC 3181

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