I really struggle to keep up with all the commitments in my life: child, partner, school, work and fitness. I often find myself comparing myself to women I see around me who seem to manage it all and more. What can I do to make peace with all that I do and turn off those comparing voices in my head that tell me I should be doing more/doing better?
Thanks so much for this question as I am sure that many other women reading this can relate and are also struggling with similar issues of balancing all of the myriad commitments in their lives. I would say that I spend a large percentage of my time as a woman-centred therapist helping women navigate this issue on a daily basis. The fact is that we women are incredibly busy and most of us are ‘overcommitted’ to too many things and find it impossible to find balance in our lives.
In answer to your question, I will let you in on some tips I give my clients who ask me the same thing:
Stop the comparing habit:
Comparing ourselves to others is a fruitless and negative bad habit- I suggest stopping yourself when you notice that you are comparing yourselves to those so-called “super-moms” out there. I recently saw a hilarious stage performance called Women Fully Clothed; in which they sang a hilarious song about not being able to be one of those “super-moms”. The truth of the matter is that outward appearances can be very deceiving- what we see presented by most people on the outside is often not reflective of the turmoil and chaos brewing within. Take it from me as a women’s therapist who has a unique inside view into a lot of women’s inner lives- they are just as strung-out, overwhelmed, and emotionally up and down as you!
Comparing yourself to others is as unproductive as the bad habit of worrying- both just stress you out, make you miserable, and don’t lead to anything productive.
Have realistic expectations of yourself and your time:
This may seem like common sense to you, but in my experience, we tend to forget that we only have so many hours in a day and that there is only one of us to do all of these things. The fact is, we aren’t super-human and that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe you’re taking on too much at this time in your life and would be a lot less stressed if you gave one or two things up on your never-ending “to do” list. Remember, when you`re in the child-rearing stage of your life, you have a lot of extra demands on your time and energy and cannot possibly keep up the hectic schedule you had before you had children. Something has got to give if you`re going to maintain balance, health, and your sanity. Remember- child-rearing is a limited period of your life and things won`t always be so busy- you will have time in your future which will be much less frantic and full. Try to enjoy this busy time while making sure to get in some exercise and relaxation, and look forward to a future when you will be able to do a lot more of things you may not have time to fit in now. Even make a list of what those things are that you are looking forward to in order to remind yourself of what lies ahead.
Lower your standards:
It sounds to me dear reader that you are also a bit of a perfectionist. Let me guess- you have incredibly high standards for yourself and take great pride in doing everything really well. You may need to lower your standards a bit in order to take the pressure off yourself. Maybe let go of being the `perfect`mother, partner, student, etc. and practice doing your average human best. My guess is that as your shoulders drop more from less pressure, so will the expectations you put on yourself. And lastly, try and love yourself through it all…it makes life so much easier.