Joelle and Sarah’s 4 Therapy Hacks to Ease SuperMom Anxiety
By: Joelle Maletis & Sarah Lucha
Motherhood is a doozy! It’s exhausting, beautiful, frustrating and the most fantastic love you’ll ever experience; as long as that’s really what you want. Otherwise, I can’t imagine being volun-told to be a parent. Motherhood isn’t for the weak of heart that’s for sure. For some, they’re mother, father, grandparent, and caregiver all rolled into one human; that’s a lot of pressure. For others, they have the support of another co-parent, family and friends. Sarah and I thought we’d talk about motherhood; I mean really talk about motherhood. We find that being transparent and sharing our experiences is cathartic. If nothing else, at least we can commensurate and support each other. The road to motherhood was not easy and involved trauma and significant loss. There were many times where we each felt it might not happen; but we made it! Sarah’s been a mother now for five years; Joelle for 22! We both have rainbow babies; babies who are born after miscarriage, loss and/or prenatal/postnatal death. We laugh often about how colorful our children are.. strong, vibrant, determined, emotional. They all have a mission in life which included tunnel vision and (frustrating) determination at times.
We wanted to provide some tips that we have learned along the way from a mother who is starting her journey and a mother who has some experience. Us “moms” have got to stick together! As we approach Mother’s Day, us mothers would like to provide a few pieces of wisdom through a conversation we had.
Sarah: I have two beautiful, smart, stubborn kids that are 5 and 3. They are 18 months apart and I often get asked if they are twins. The days are long but the years are short as they say. I am tired and holding on for dear life!
Joelle: My “babies” aren’t babies: my daughter, a 20 year old D1 Women’s Soccer Player in WI. My 22 year old son, a rising chef/culinary science developer getting ready to graduate this summer, in NY. (And Auntie Jo to Sarah’s babies). Like Sarah’s kiddos, mine are equal as beautiful, smart and stubborn – and I am holding on for dear life too! Really it’s just “bigger kiddos, bigger problems”!
What do you tell yourself when being a mom is hard each and every day?
Quality over Quantity! You are enough for your children.
Sarah: We often feel that we are not giving enough, we are stretched and sometimes our kiddos get the best parts of us and sometimes they get the parts we wish were better. It’s normal to feel like this!
Joelle: As the kiddos get older, they have less time and desire to spend with mom; it’s hard to remember that this is a normal part of healthy development. Developing rituals like playing cards together or movies and pizza on Sunday nights (since they want to be with their friends on Fridays and Saturdays) helps. Start this early in their lives and stay consistent with your family rituals. They’ll come to love this time you spend together and look forward to it when they’re away from home more often.
Mom guilt is real! It’s no joke how it affects our daily life and living.
Sarah: It will creep into every conscious and subconscious thought and wreak havoc on your emotional and physical state. Don’t believe it and try not to listen to it! You deserve to praise yourself for loving fiercely because you’re being a great mom. I challenge you to make a list in just one day of all of the things you selflessly do for your children? I bet you will find, the list is expansive!
Joelle: Mom guilt will push us to do things for our children at the cost of our own sanity. But we say: “that’s motherhood!” Mom guilt fuels us to drive to lacrosse practice, a waterpolo match and a soccer tournament across the Bay Area in one day because we just don’t want to miss anything for either kiddo. It drives us to lose our minds in an instant with their obnoxiously irritating behavior and hug them in abundance the next. It demands of us to try and be SuperMom and SuperWoman all at the same time. When the guilt creeps in and overrides all that you do, try: one, visualizing a stop sign; two, telling yourself to STOP; three, asking yourself, “what do I need at this moment?”; and four, follow through with what you need. This thought-stopping and redirection technique does wonders!
Good Moms Say NO! Us moms typically have no boundaries and we feel guilty when we say “no”.
Sarah: I have no problem saying no, when I feel like a “good mom!” If I am struggling with work or grad school and the time it takes away from them then I find myself letting them stay up later or the extra sugar. I know! Boundaries! In these moments I try to remember I am enough and saying No is needed for them and me!
Joelle: When we’re exhausted we have a hard time upholding good boundaries for ourselves as well as our kiddos. We feel guilty when we say no. Or, we become fatigued with the repetitive asks over and over and over even though we say no; so we give in. Children are masters in emotional warfare! When they have an ask, I’d practice the “wait” technique: one, say to them: “Please give momma a minute to think, thank you.” Two, ask yourself, is their ask unreasonable or not an option at this time?” Then three, respond with “Yes because….”; or, “No because…” Researchers have shown that we say “No” first as an automatic response without thinking. Then we think about it and we change our minds. This teaches children to keep asking until they get a yes. When the child gets a win with their request the first time, they’re less likely to hound you when you say “No”. And remember, good moms say “no”!
The punishment fits the crime! Discipline is about consistency, effective behavior modification and knowing when to surrender.
Sarah: I do a sticker board for good behavior and when the shoes are not put in the basket or the vegetables are not eaten then a sticker gets taken away. My kids love that sticker board and the motivation to keep lots of stickers on the board helps.
Joelle: I remember giving myself a “timeout” in the bathroom when the kiddos were young. I’d say: “If you don’t stop, you’ll get a time out.” They didn’t stop, they got a time out and it didn’t work! I remember feeling incredibly defeated. I stopped threatening as it was an exercise in futility. The pediatrician at the time said: “Joelle, leave them arguing on the couch; give yourself a timeout! You’ll be surprised how quickly they redirect all their energy pounding on the bathroom door.” I remember thinking, how in the world will that help me- I just want them to stop! I’m sure later that day, when they started fighting over a toy, I gave myself a timeout in the bathroom. Sure enough, they started pounding on the door saying in their sweet yet pathetic little voices, “please momma, we’re sorry, we’ll share!” It actually worked. If I didn’t react and they redirected; well, most of the time. This trick continued to work (even now when they are home from college)… the arguing over who gets to pick the movie starts and I silently get up and go to the bathroom, lock the door and turn on the water. I wash my face, brush my teeth; and after a few minutes I re-emerge to no more arguing children. The trick: consistent mom behavior!
What are your favorite mom tricks?
Please make sure to check out Joelle hosting Switch Research’s YouTube Live with Sarah discussing pregnancy, parenthood and postpartum needs in a 4-part mini series starting on April 22 – May 12, 2022, from 12:00pm-1:00pm PST. Check us out [https://youtu.be/Tq4yTeYQ474]. Don’t worry if you missed an episode, you’ll be able to go back and watch the previous episodes, send us questions and participate in the Live!
Happy Mothering and remember it’s a journey where support is necessary. We’re here to support you during this time! We hope this helps and we’d love to hear more from you about what works for you! You can reach us at (650) 386-6753 or email@example.com to share your comments, ask questions or schedule an appointment.