Whether you are single or married, working full time while managing children, or solely handling a handful of children at home, you can at times become overwhelmed by the enormous amount of responsibilities that you face as a modern woman. With today’s busy schedule and the ever growing demands for your time it is getting harder to balance your life, career and family. Even with some family members or your husband partially on hand and willing to help, you still have many fine details to master when managing your children. And today you will require ever greater levels of energy just to get it all done.
Because mothers face such exceptional outside social demands today you can become vulnerable to the Super Mom Syndrome, if you are not skilled at managing your priorities in time. This syndrome can arise when you begin to feel exhaustion and immense guilt at the same time for all the things you have got to do, but can’t get done. It occurs when you feel responsible for all the many problems in your household that you feel you can’t handle. You can start to blame yourself for not having all the immediate solutions. You can feel overwhelmed trying to inefficiently multi-task. As a Super Mom you may even think that you have to do all the many responsibilities instantly or else your family or career will fall apart.
As a Super Mom you may also expect your kitchen or entire house to be immaculately clean; your dinner table full of elaborately prepared family dishes; your juggled career, hobbies, and the extra-curricular activities with your children to all be well organized and thriving; your family and household financial management to be perfectly ordered; your groceries fully stocked; your children’s dental and medical check-ups always kept current; your cars maintained; your children bathed and read to; your family clothes all kept clean and folded and all deadlines met. As a Super Mom you may even have all your paperwork begin to pile up, feel angry and betrayed by your children and have your space become cluttered and disorganized.
As a Super Mom you may also try to invest some of your time into your career while attempting to prioritize the needs of all of your children. You may think that being selfless will make your child act more kind and obedient. You may feel responsible for the smiles on your children’s faces and in doing so become resentful to them for “doing this to you” and then feel guilty and compensate by planning unscheduled fun activities that erode even more time. You may feel frustrated for only starting your various endeavors, for hardly meeting all of your goals, for trying to juggle so many activities and for feeling frustrated that you could have done it better. You may be labeled an unrealistic “perfectionist,” and be silently fuming at your husband and gnashing your teeth when your husband teases you for having a low sex drive. You may collapse in bed even after your husband massages your tensed shoulder muscles and have headaches due to worrying about losing your once bubbly disposition.
What are some of the symptoms associated with Super-Mum Syndrome?
As a Super Mom you may just find yourself experiencing:
Depression (unmet unrealistic expectations)
Difficulty in maintaining your weight
Diminished exercise results (suppressed thyroid from repressed feelings)
Fibromyalgia, muscle aches and painful joints (inflamed emotions)
Dryer rougher skin tone (anger induced testosterone)
Wrinkles (tensed muscles)
Chronic fatigue and low drive (unfulfilled highest values)
Diminishing libido (resentment to spouse)
Hair loss (anger induced testosterone)
Anxiety (Unrealistic expectations)
Weakened immune system
Frequent headaches (internal conflict)
Is Super-Mum Syndrome more common when children are younger or older?
The Super Mom Syndrome can occur during any phase of your mothering cycle from when your children are first born until they finally become independent in their late teens or twenties. At each stage there are many demands and can be many unrealistic expectations and distractions.
Is it possible to treat Super-Mum Syndrome?
Yes! But instead of labeling this so-called syndrome a disease to be medically treated, it might be wiser to consider it more of a result of unrealistic expectations and non-prioritized lifestyle decisions. Before seeking sympathy from loved ones for your overwhelm, and driving to shrinks so you can cry on someone’s shoulders and run your story and before possibly ending up on hormone optimization or replacement therapies, consider changing your daily lifestyle choices by setting realistic expectations on yourself as a mother and learning the art of delegating. By prioritizing your daily household and work activities, targeting higher more meaningful and inspired actions and by asking for help so you can delegate lower priority activities to those capable and inspired to do them, you can transform this so-called “syndrome” into growing and life mastering opportunities. These symptoms are feedback mechanisms to get you to live realistically according to your truest and highest priorities.
Can you talk about the research you’ve conducted in regards to Super-Mum Syndrome?
I have spent over four decades studying human behavior and what maximizes human performance and fulfillment. I have witnessed and consulted with hundreds of moms who have backed themselves into corners because of their unrealistic expectations, poor time management and delegation skills and injected idealisms from outer authorities. You are not here to be living according to other people’s expectations. You do not have to be a Super Mom to receive attention, acknowledgement, or to be loved. You can be loved for who you are, as you are. But, it starts with you.
Why do you think this syndrome has developed?
Since there have been ever greater demands placed from the outside on today’s women - to be wives, moms and business women - there have been greater degrees of internal conflict in many woman about their complete and yet uncertain roles. Being true to yourself is crucial if you want to set yourself free.
Who do mothers mostly compare themselves to?
When moms subordinate themselves to others that they envy, look up to, admire or imagine themselves living like (whether in their real lives, or in their self-help or story books) and they do not live true to themselves, according to their own true highest values, they become more stressed, frustrated and angered with their situations, children, husbands and careers. Social ideals are sometimes written by individuals that have a different set of priorities and that are not necessarily wise or understanding of the many variables of others. As Emerson wrote, “Envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide.”
Can you provide us with the two case studies; one of an Australian Mum who has Super Mum Syndrome and one that doesn't?
I once counseled a woman who was very angry at her husband for feeling that he was not contributing to the family as much as she was and who blocked her feelings of appreciation and love for him because of her many unmet expectations. Once I had her list everything she did in a day and prioritized them according to their levels of productivity and meaningfulness and then listed the replacement costs next to each item she could more easily see which actions she could most cost efficiently delegate to others. Before our meeting she was overwhelmed and angry. After, she was liberated and relaxed and appreciating her husband once again. She gradually delegated more and more of these lower priority items over the next few months to others, particularly the house cleaning, laundry, sowing, cooking, grocery shopping and errands, all her less inspiring activities to a part time nanny/cook/cleaner and gave herself permission to work part time at a career that was meaningful, that produced more for her than her costs of the assistance, which freed up her energies and life. This left her feeling fulfilled once again in her career and made her appreciate her children even more and spend more quality time with them on education, reading, playing and meaningful discussions when eating. She felt more like a true mom and a career woman once again. She realized that much of her anger was projected onto her husband that she was feeling toward herself. And many of her symptoms were there to guide her.
I have also worked with women who have mastered the art of prioritizing their many daily activities and skillfully stuck to their highest priorities. They had learned that if they didn’t fill their days with high priorities that are meaningful and inspiring, that their days became filled with low priority distractions that depressed and drained them. They understood that the more educated, adept and prioritized their lives were the more freedom they gave themselves permission to have.
Can you talk about the benefits of your workshops for Australian Mums?
In my signature two day seminar program titled the Breakthrough Experience® I have taught thousands of husbands and wives how to love and appreciate each other for their individual values and contributions and how to dialogue and communicate each other’s highest values in terms of their partner’s. I have helped moms become freed to know themselves, be themselves, and love themselves as well as helped them once again love their lives, husbands and families.
Why do you believe “mothers can't make a mistake”?
Ultimately, every action you do will act as feedback mechanisms for you to live more authentically and according to what is truly meaningful and important to them – what is truly highest on your values. Every action is on the way, not in the way, instructive, not obstructive, once the wisdom of your masterful attitude is awakened. There are no mistakes, only feedback mechanisms to help you eventually live the life you deserve. As a mom you deserve to live a super life.
Dr. John Demartini is a human behaviour specialist, educator, author and the founder of the Demartini Institute.