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The mommy martyr makeover

Mommy martyrs, you know who you are: moms who, at all costs, make sure that everything gets done, that everyone is happy, that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed before they collapse with a big sigh into their easy chairs.

“There are several reasons for martyrdom,” says life coach Mary Tucker, “including the expectations society sets before us.” Many of us, she says, “have an expectation of doing it all.” This develops into an ideal that is unrealistic and unattainable. “Most women would rather be accused of anything besides being a bad mom,” says Tucker.

Do you fit the mold?

Here are a few martyrdom warning signs.

Do you volunteer for projects and tasks and then resent the amount of work you have to do?

Do you ensure that all the members of your household are groomed, fed and ready for their day before you even get to your coffee?

Are you so busy with your obligations that you don’t have time to get a haircut or make a doctor’s appointment for yourself?

Do your daily obligations make it difficult for you to enjoy a loving relationship with your spouse?

Are you short-tempered with your children because you resent your responsibilities?

Guidelines for recovering mommy martyrs

So what’s a mommy martyr to do?

Know your limits. Chart out your week and be honest about time spent each day on various tasks, from dishes to important obligations. Revise this chart regularly to track your time and energy. If you are approached with a new project, know how much time you must commit — and how much time you have available — before saying yes.

Make time for yourself. When you make your chart, make at least a small commitment to yourself. Schedule time for a manicure, for extra errands you’ve been putting off or to read.

• Just say no. You do not have to make someone else’s “emergency” your own. Saying no works when dealing with adults and children alike. “Be responsible for your boundaries and standards,” advises Tucker.

Remember: Multitasking is for martyrs. Recent studies have shown that multitasking increases the amount of time needed to carry out tasks as the brain shifts from one focus to another. In 100 AD, Roman philosopher Pubilius Syrus wrote, “To do two things at once is to do neither.”

Use 10-minute increments. Commit 10 minutes of time to something and reap the benefits. If you children are clamoring for attention, get down to their level and play for 10 minutes. If you need a break, sit in a quiet room for 10 minutes. You will be delighted and amazed to see the impact. Overwhelmed by housework? Take 10 and see how much you can get done in one room.

Don’t feel guilty. It’s okay to sit down alone to regroup — you’re teaching your children that your own needs sometimes take priority. “It’s important to model appropriate behavior,” says Tucker. “When you value yourself, it shows that you also value others.” Moms need to live positively to make a positive impact.

Mari Farthing is a freelance writer and parenting editor.

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