The term Super Mom makes me uncomfortable. It’s a lofty label to achieve. I’m not perfect, nor do I strive to be. I just try to make the most out of every day, and go to bed at night knowing I’ve done the best for my family.
I recently had the honor of being featured on the cover of Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine, pictured with my girls. I am not a model. I am not glamorous. I’m a working mom, just trying to get through today.
But I have friends who insist I must be a vampire to accomplish all I do in a day. For those who ask “how do you do it?” or “do you ever sleep?” here are my secrets to faking it as Super Mom:
Pick your battles. I am not a short order cook, and I make that very clear. But I feed my kids well. Some days it’s healthy well thought out meals. Some days it’s leftovers, or cereal for dinner. “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” is a popular mantra at my house. Also, my kids don’t have strict early bedtimes. They go to bed late because my husband and I work late. So if we want to spend time with them, that’s the way it goes. And it goes OK.
Turn errands and tasks into family activities. I am lucky enough to work part time. But I don’t spend my days off at home. We’re usually out the door by 9am and on the move all day. We hit the gym, the library, and whatever errands I need. I might squeeze in a visit to the pet store nearby to let them play around with the cats or dogs there for adoption. I don’t rush through grocery shopping. I use signs in the aisles to help them learn their letters and sounds, invite them to bag the apples to practice counting, sample things to encourage an adventurous palate, and help them find items that they want to prepare with me.
Limit the kids activities. My rule is no more than two classes each at a time. It helps our budget and my sanity. What are my kids doing this summer? Nothing. Being kids. I’ll sign them up for swimming lessons, of course. But I want them to play outside, get dirty, make friends in the neighborhood and find ways to busy themselves. That kind of approach has encouraged them to be good at independent play and good at playing together. I appreciate a good play date every now and then, but I can’t go arranging a weekly social calendar for preschoolers. There are plenty of social interaction opportunities in their daily lives without overcommitting myself to more pick ups and drop offs.
Take take time for your extracurriculars. It will make you feel whole and it show your children another side of you. I am not a “plays with Barbies” kinda mom. I don’t do puppet shows. But my girls love to help me with my projects in the kitchen. It kills two birds with one stone. When we spend time together on recipes, they pick up math skills, life skills and vocabulary. And I get stuff done. They are proud of themselves and proud of me for my accomplishments.
Enlist the help of others. Don’t be afraid to say “I can’t do that.” Knowing when to step up and when to say “please help” will save you a lot of grief. When I was asked to participate in the magazine cover story, and be photographed alongside my daughters, I was thrilled. But I was given about a week’s notice to dream up several original recipes, shop for and prepare the food, and ready my home, myself and my children for a professional photo shoot. Since the theme was party food, I politely informed the editor that she would have to come up with the cake and all the decorations. I simply didn’t have it in me to take on any more. I also called in professionals to do my hair and make up so that I could focus my energy on my children’s presentation instead of my own when the photographer arrived. Time and money spent wisely.
Never sit still. This may not be good advice, but it’s the secret to my success. I use my 20 minute commute to catch up on phone calls and voicemails. I write blog posts while I’m on the elliptical machine. I fold laundry while I’m ready stories before bed. It’s not a relaxing day but as a Type A, I feel better knowing my to-do list is shrinking.
Commit to getting good sleep. A short time ago I made a few changes to my own sleep routine and I’ve felt so much better since. Mothers often sacrifice their own well-being for that of their family. But if mama ain’t happy, or healthy, or rested…no one else usually is. Make it a priority and you’ll find the energy you need to “fake it till you make it” as a Super Mom yourself.
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Something tells me you aren’t ‘faking’ it. These mantras all hit home with me but my favorite is limiting activities. Our kiddos do swimming lessons and one other activity. Right now it’s Lacrosse for my son and soccer for my daughter. We spend the other days of the week on the swing set, at the library, feeding our chickens or making mud pies at the beach. Let them be kids. Let them be little. Keep up the good fight. ?
Great post, Jen. I think it comes down to prioritizing – you have time for what you make time for. And your kids are definitely better off by seeing you engaged in things you love (and getting involved in them with you!).
Thanks for making me feel better! I follow a lot of the same things you do, and I think its important to try to teach my kids about how to be good people, rather than teaching them how to be “successful” at age 3. Love this!