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Lighten your Load

By October 28, 2014

Ladies. I’m worried about you. You may have seen the Yahoo parenting article we linked to on Facebook earlier this week that stated one in four working moms admit to crying alone once a week. That statistic blew my mind. Sure, I immediately thought of all the times I have lost it and had a good cry. But what really got to me was thinking about all of my family, friends and colleagues, all the SpitfireMoms, and all of the other countless working moms out there who are getting crushed by stress. I’m empathetic to a fault (one of those types who cries during that damned Folgers commercial EVERY SINGLE CHRISTMAS) and I can’t shake the feeling that this crying by yourself business has got to stop.

image The article cited a recent Care.com survey of working moms. Pretty interesting stuff, if a bit obvious at times (Newsflash! Moms are most stressed out during the holidays! Who knew???). This shouldn’t be a surprise, but a good chunk of our problem is ourselves. We’re comparing ourselves to others, refusing to ask for help, and spending so much time worrying about what we’re missing that we are actually missing a lot of it while worrying.

I recently met a 20-something entrepreneur with two little boys. She and I talked for quite a while about work, home, marriage and motherhood. At one point during the conversation she stopped cold and said “you are SO calm! You seem so together. How do you DO that?” And while I tried to formulate an answer I couldn’t help but think, damn, if she thinks I’ve got things figured out, this poor girl must be a train wreck! So although I am lightyears away from where this sweet young mom thinks I am, I’ll throw some ideas out there for you to chew on. (And just do as I say and not as I do, mmmkay?)

1.  Would you PLEASE ask for help? Seriously. This isn’t hard. Well, okay, it actually IS hard. I still don’t do it nearly often enough, but I really do try. Really. So rather than killing yourself doing all 158 things on your to-do list on your own, pick a few things to delegate. Ask your partner to please stop at the grocery store, a friend to please pick up your dry-cleaning, your kids to put away their own socks and underwear, a coworker to cover that non-essential conference call, anyone to do one little thing for you. It makes the world of difference.

2. Along those same lines, if you have the means, starting hiring some of these chores out. The best thing that we will ever spend our money on? A house cleaner. We come home on Friday afternoons to a spotless and fresh smelling house. On Friday night we all climb into our beds with freshly laundered sheets. It’s heaven. Other ideas – a lawn service, a neighborhood babysitter, the grocery store delivery service, the dry-cleaner’s delivery service, a milk man! The possibilities are endless. Think about what your pain points are and see if there’s a way to outsource.

3. You simply have to make time for yourself. This isn’t negotiable anymore, ladies. Nobody thinks you’re cool, amazing, brave, whatever, for not taking any time to yourself. Instead, we’re all secretly striving to be the mom who makes time to go to the gym every day, or who goes out with her girlfriends once a month, or who has a biweekly date night with her partner. How she pulls it off may be a mystery but just ASK her and I promise you if she’s half as nice as you are she’ll share some hints that make it work for her.

4. Which leads me to my next point. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone has different priorities, different challenges, different home-life situations. Everyone is DIFFERENT. That poor 20-something mama who thought I had all the answers? I’m sure that she and I could have made a list of 20 things she thought I was doing right, and 20 things I thought she was doing right. It’s awesome to share information and tips with other moms, but don’t think for a second that it will all work for you. And do NOT judge yourself for that. You’re doing just fine.

5. Finally, if you have to cry, for heaven’s sake, don’t do it alone. There’s just no reason for it. Cuddle with your partner, or call your mom, your sister, your aunt, your cousin, your BFF, your kid’s BFF’s mom, WHOMEVER. Just find someone you trust and cry it out. There’s no shame in it. But I can’t bear the thought of you doing it by yourself.

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