If you find yourself wishing that you could make some shifts in your life that would give you some breathing space, a little time for yourself, more smiles and fewer growls, I want you to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Many women are stuck in a cycle of feeling overwhelmed and undervalued and even find resentment creeping in where they want to have love, acceptance, and joy. This is what I know: it doesn’t have to be that way. Once you get some clarity on what you need, you can begin to learn tools and take small steps to make those shifts happen. Here’s how it played out for one of my clients. I’ll call her Leah.
Leah was a part-time teacher with a preschool-aged daughter with whom she had a very close relationship. Before her daughter's birth Leah had been quite active and she longed to get back to a regular exercise routine, but between the precious hours at home with her daughter, her teaching job, family life, occasional socializing, and so on, Leah's time for herself frequently got pushed to the side. Leah noticed that she was not the mom she wanted to be. She sensed resentment creeping into her emotions instead of the love and kindness she wanted to feel. When her husband was home she would try to slip out for a short run. Her daughter would cry for her to stay home and play. Sometimes Leah would give up her run and come back to calm her daughter, but since Leah's needs hadn't been met she was crabby and impatient. Other times she would go anyway and come home to an exhausted, post-tantrum child and an agitated spouse. It felt like no matter how hard she tried to do the right thing, nothing worked.
Leah's daughter needed her mom to be fully present when they were together, and Leah needed regular exercise to fill her cup so she could engage with her child. Since Leah was often running on fumes she didn't have anything left to give her daughter and the child was unsatisfied and clingy. Neither Leah nor her daughter were getting their needs met and it was a source of major tension.
When Leah became aware of this cycle she decided to make some changes. She talked with her husband about how important it was to have time for exercise and solitude. She also pledged her support for him to carve out time for these same things. A little later, when things were calm, Leah set the situation up for success with her child. She snuggled her daughter close and told her about her new plan to run and go to an exercise class a few times a week. During this conversation, she explained her values for health, meeting one's needs, and being a good parent in very simple terms that her child could understand. She told her daughter When I come back from exercising I will come home happy and we can spend time playing. Because of how Leah took time to explain it, her daughter felt connected to her mama and agreed to cooperate.
Leah took action and followed through. She set up a regular exercise schedule on the calendar so that her family knew what to expect. When it was almost time to go, Leah reminded her daughter, took a few moments to give her some hugs and kisses, and committed to playtime when she got back. Because she set it up for success and spoke from her heart instead of from a place of resentment, Leah's daughter was more easygoing about the time apart. She even got in the habit of saying, Goodbye, Happy Mama!, as she waved to her. The change this brought in Leah's family was huge. The resentment disappeared and was replaced by joy. Leah supported her husband to get more regular exercise, and as a family they played outside more, knowing it was something they all enjoyed. They commented on how great it felt to have their everyday actions in alignment with their values and their needs met.
If this story resonates with you in some way here are some things you can do: