There are two conditions that afflict many mums: the first is “toxic mum stress” and the second is “supermom syndrome.” In this post, we’re covering supermom syndrome so if you think you have some of the symptoms, read on.
While to my knowledge there’s no medical diagnosis, there are plenty of mums who’d agree that they either know a supermom or they’re a supermom themselves. What are some of the characteristics?
When a mum strives for no less than perfection, when she sets unrealistic expectations around what she “should” be able to do within a given day and when she sets the bar so high that it puts an enormous amount of stress and pressure on herself. While she seems to have it all together, from what I’ve seen over the last 21 years in coaching and teaching many “supermoms” and as a reformed supermom myself…it’s not without a price.
“Supermom syndrome” can show itself in school, on the soccer field, at work, and in just about every area of personal and professional success. While everything may appear perfect on the outside, here’s what’s often going on behind closed doors. I’ve found that with many of these supermoms, keeping up this routine creates an incredible amount of super stress. The problem with doing it all and making sure to do it all perfectly is that the demand becomes stressful physically, mentally and emotionally. Our body and our minds just can't handle that kind of pressure so, over time the body starts breaking down. It affects the immune system which lowers our resistance to illness and disease, it impacts our digestion, our energy, metabolism, hormones, our cycles, our libido, our ability to get quality, restorative sleep and so much more. It affects us on so many different levels both internally and externally.
As mums we’re also typically conditioned to put ourselves last. We take care of ourselves once everyone else is cared for. It’s at that point when many of us get that workout in or take a much needed break. Unfortunately, by that point there’s no time, energy or motivation left for our own self-care. So over time, we often find ourselves unfit, overweight, overwhelmed, unhappy, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied because we’re depleting ourselves and neglecting our own self-care in the process. While our intention is to care for all within our care and reach, depleting ourselves leaves little to nurture others with and defeats the purpose of one of our most important intentions.
What does the supermom do? If she’s unable or unwilling to let go of some of the tasks, chores and responsibilities she’s taken on, she may give up much needed sleep or down time that her body needs in order to fit it all in and get it all done. Over the short term this may work but over time, the body speaks louder and louder until it gets the supermom’s attention.
Do you have supermom syndrome?
If so, consider the reason why you placed these expectations on yourself. Is it realistic? Where did these standards come from and do they serve you? Do you feel somehow “less than” or inadequate if you were to lower your expectations or delegate a bit? If you’re struggling with the idea of letting something go, are you concerned about what others would think or say and if so, is it time to ask yourself why has that been given so much importance?
Sure it's realistic to get everything done but maybe not all at the same time and at the price you may be paying. Treating yourself well and giving yourself much needed self-care often means staying true to your priorities…and letting something else go. Can you let go of something? Is it time to redefine perfect for the sake of your health and well-being?
One of the most difficult parts of motherhood isn’t about taking care of the kids. It’s about finding a healthy and realistic way to care for YOU in the process. With that said, take off the supermom cape. You’re awesome as you are and perfectly imperfect is perfectly okay.