“We Can Do It!” was a World War II-era battle cry that empowered women. Today, however, the expression for many women is more like, “We can do it — if there’s time.”
By their 40s, more than 80 percent of American women are mothers, according to the U.S. census. Meanwhile, they also make up roughly half of the workforce, a percentage that has doubled since Rosie the Riveter’s proclamation.
At least 50 percent of women say they don’t have enough free time and 60 percent feel guilty for spending what little time they do have on themselves, according to a survey published in the March issue of Real Simple magazine.
Between motherhood and work, it is crucial that busy women also take time out for themselves, says Saniel Bonder, a wellness coach, Harvard graduate and author of the acclaimed new novel Ultimaya 1.0: The Trouble with the Wishes of Leopold Stokes.
“Putting things into a new perspective and realizing that a really good mother and home manager – or a mother who works outside the home – can’t be chronically tired and cranky is a first step to achieving a healthy balance between a mom and her to-do list,” he says.
Mothering is a marathon, not a sprint, Bonder says. Unhappiness, failure and disappointment are guaranteed when a woman continues to drive competing interests at excessive speeds, he says.
• Make “Me Time” a Priority Every Day: Set aside 5 to 10 inviolable minutes for triaging your day’s to-do list — early on, when you’ve got plenty of energy and aren’t already overwhelmed.
• Do It with “Mother Bear” Fierceness: Go at it with ferocious intention to protect your “cub”— except in this case, the cub is your own total wellness.
• Serve Everyone Notice: Let your family, friends, and others who depend on you know that for everyone’s sake, you are going to take better care of yourself and you’re not going to try to be Superwoman any more.
• Ruthless Ranking: Rank each item 1, 2 or 3 in order of real importance. Make sure your priority is only the most important, and that you actually can do it.
• Indulge Your Inner Child: Make at least one of your daily No. 1 priorities something to pamper yourself – something you know will really make you feel good but that you think you really don’t have time for and shouldn’t need.
• Talk Back to Your Inner Critic: Do this out loud; shout it if you need to! Just say “no,” a lot, to that fault-finding perfectionist in your head. You’re right. It’s wrong!
“Sustainability begins at home, and the true hearth of most homes today is the mother’s well-being,” Bonder says. “Your children need to learn this from how you live, not just what you tell them.”