As mothers today we have so much on our plates. We want to be the perfect mother: always there for our children, always happy and smiling, always knowing what to say and how to make things better. We also want to be the perfect wife, the perfect hostess, live in a spotless home, and have a career as well! These are very high expectations! I regularly meet mothers who are very hard on themselves because they can never reach these levels of perfection.
As soon as the house is tidy, your toddler empties out a whole box of toys, your 5 year old spills juice all over the clean floor, your 7 year old needs help with her homework, and the baby wakes up crying. The dinner starts to burn while you mop up the mess, and then you remember that you promised to make a meal for your neighbor who just had a baby and you forgot to buy the chicken. Does this sound familiar? It’s at times like these that we can get very down on ourselves and start to wonder how everyone else seems to cope.
Rivka* had 4 small children. Her family lived abroad and she had no help. She was finding it difficult to cope. She did not enjoy being at home all day with her two younger children; she just couldn’t get anything done! She spent a lot of time shouting at the older two when they came home in the afternoon. They just wouldn’t listen! She couldn’t always get dinner ready on time, and then the children went to bed late and were cranky the next day. Her house was very messy and out of control. Cooking for Shabbat was very difficult, so she started to buy ready made food that she couldn’t really afford. Rivka’s husband saw that she was having a hard time, but didn’t really know how he could help her. Rivka felt guilty about the way she treated her children, and saw herself as failure at running her home.
Rivka decided she needed help. She picked up the phone, called me, and made an appointment.
The first time I met Rivka, I asked her when she had last done something just for herself. She thought for a moment and started to cry. Her life quite rightly revolved around her children, but she never had time for herself. She couldn’t remember the last time she had done something which wasn’t connected to the kids. We discussed some of the things that she liked to do, but Rivka found it hard to come up with anything. It was as if she was working so hard on being a good mother, she was losing her sense of self. We worked hard together, and eventually made up a list of things she wanted to do, just for herself. We came up with a plan to enable her to do some of those things, and to spoil herself just a little.
Her husband agreed to babysit the children one afternoon a week. This gave Rivka time to herself to relax and to do something fun. Those few hours a week made the most incredible difference to Rivka’s life. She had time to think and reflect on her life and to take care of herself. She found that she had much more energy for her children and the house. Life suddenly felt a little more manageable.
Once she had this free time scheduled into her routine, we were also able to make a plan for dealing with the house, the children, and the Shabbat cooking. Slowly but surely, Rivka brought order and joy back into her life.
We also worked on her perception that everyone else found it so easy and was coping fine, that it was only her who found life so difficult. Rivka began to ask her friends how they managed. She was amazed to see that she wasn’t the only one who found things challenging.
Rivka began to realize that she had cut herself off from her friends after she had her fourth child, and that she had thereby lost their natural support. Once she began to reconnect with other mothers, she found that she could lighten up about her children, the mess, and the late dinners. She could even laugh about it! But most importantly, she began to realize that she was a good mother, homebuilder, and wife, and that she did the best that she could. She even began to forgive herself when things didn’t always go according to plan.
As mothers, we need to be there for each other. It’s amazing how much we can help ourselves by talking to other mothers who understand what we are going through. We also need to be there to give our friends a push to get help when they are struggling. It is truly remarkable how after just a few months of life coaching, Rivka’s whole life turned around. She was able to elicit all those coping skills that she already had, but had not been using.
Call me, Helen Abelesz, life coach for women, for a free session. Come and find out how amazing you are and what a fabulous mother you actually are!
Call me at 054 482 9815.
Challenge of the month
Let’s try and introspect this month and see if we find time in our busy schedules for ourselves. When was the last time you met a friend for a coffee? If we give to ourselves, we will be able to give much more to others.
* Not her real name and all identifying details have been changed.
Helen is a life coach who specializes in working with women who are feeling overwhelmed, lack self-confidence, dealing with stress or not achieving their potential. Helen will help you pinpoint your insecurities, set goals for you to achieve and empower you to take control of your life. She works in both Hebrew and English