As you may know I have been very busy in 2017. In January, I was focused on creating my first webinar, 6 Steps to FEEL in Love All Over Again and February was spent getting to know so many amazing couples who enrolled in my online coaching program The Relationship Roadmap.
All of this was amazing and exciting but it required putting in a lot more hours of work, which took time away from the kids. They were feeling neglected and expressed this feeling clearly and repeatedly.
Uh oh, mom just got triggered.
While trying to listen to them, I almost instantaneously thought, “no matter what I do it’s not enough for you.”
Hello, Melissa the Martyr. Who invited you here?
Thankfully I was able to catch myself before Melissa the Martyr took over. I realized that I was having a False Mommy Guilt Syndrome flare up.
False Mommy Guilt Syndrome (FMGS) is caused by holding oneself to an unreasonably high standard based on the belief that mothers are not only nurturing–they are self-sacrificing.
We strive for these ridiculously high expectations because it gives us the illusion of control: if we meet these standards, the kids will become happy adults.
Symptoms of FMGS include:
- Feeling that you have done something wrong even when you haven’t.
- Feeling like no matter how hard you try, you’re never quite good enough.
- Chronic sufferers experience a nagging feeling that never goes away completely.
To treat this episode of FMGS, I needed a mindset overhaul. To pull me out of mommy martyrdom, I chose to find the gifts in the situation. From that mindset, I realized that:
- This was an opportunity to be a model for my kids — to show them how to handle the challenges coming their way. Next fall, they will start high school where the workload will be much more substantial and advanced. It’s good for them to see me putting in extra effort for this big project. It’s good for them to see me wrestling with time management. It’s good for them to see me struggle and succeed.
- This was a reminder that I choose where I want to spend my time and energy. To make the most impact, I needed to get clear on what was essential.
What my kids need and deserve from me is focused attention. That’s the priority.
With that in mind, I lowered my standards on all non-essential tasks. For example, the kids need to eat but that doesn’t mean I have to make every meal from scratch.
I set boundaries around time so that everyone was clear on when they could not interrupt me and when we would give each other our full attention.
Instead of staying upstairs and watching mindless TV to get a mental break, I chose to join them in the basement (their lair) and sat on the couch and colored. I was available if they wanted to be with me, and if not, we all did our own things to relax.
The next time you feel guilty, ask yourself if you actually did something hurtful or harmful. If not, you’re probably experiencing FMGS.
Obviously, the specific actions I used work for teens and not toddlers but regardless of the age of your child, the treatment plan is the same: release yourself from your unrelenting standards, focus on what is essential, and take time to relax.
It works every time.