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Remedy for mom malaise: share your genius

by Guest Blogger on January 4, 2013

This post is by author, life coach and yoga instructor Kate Hanley of Ms. Mindbody.

Share your unique innate talents with the world

As a life coach, I work with women — mostly moms — who are exhausted from stress, guilt, and constantly judging themselves for their choices.

Some are working crazy amounts and feeling guilty about not spending more time with their kids. Some are doing jobs they don’t really care about, which makes them wonder if it’s worth it to put their kids in childcare to go sit at a desk and be miserable. Others are stay-at-home moms who feel they have to do everything for their kids, since taking care of them is “their job”.

All these scenarios create a ton of angst. And they all boil down to a question of value.

A client of mine  — a mom of one who works very part-time – recently told me that although she chose not to work all that much because she wants to spend time with her preschooler, she’s constantly questioning her decision.

“I just need to know I’m doing something of value or else I don’t want to get out of bed,” she confessed. “On the days I’m with my son, I wake up and think, ‘I’m going to parent the sh*t out of him.’”

We had a good laugh about her confession, and I could definitely identify. Who hasn’t felt a drive to be the best mom she can possibly be?

The problem, I believe, is that pouring all of our ambition and energy into trying to be perfect moms can have the opposite of the effect we’d like.

After all, how do you think it would feel to a child to have the sh*t parented out of him? I’d wager it feels pretty danged oppressive, like a wet blanket thrown over his head. A few years of that and pretty soon that kid is going to want to get away from that wet blanket at all costs; it will feel like his very survival depends on it. Which is the exact opposite of what this well-meaning mom wants.

Can you relate to my client’s confession? I know I can. And in some ways, it makes sense: when your kids are really small and intensely needy, it sometimes just seems logical to put your brainpower and ambition on the back burner while you attend to nursing and nap management.

But over time, as your children get older, the situation has a way of becoming painful. As that baby turns into a preschooler and his needs become both less immediate and somehow more complicated, it can be tough to know when it’s time to either take a step back or ramp up your mothering efforts (more flash cards!).

If you’re feeling stuck, there’s one surefire way to pull yourself out of a tailspin of feeling angsty and adrift: by sharing your one-of-a-kind mix of talents – your genius – with the world.

It doesn’t matter if you do it as part of a 9-to-5 job, as an entrepreneur, a volunteer, a friend, or a mom. The process of putting your talents “out there” is the best personal development seminar there is.

When you focus on being the best version of yourself that you can possibly be – and sharing that bright light with the rest of the world – it takes the focus off of “parenting the sh*t out of your kids” and allows you to just be who you are, which happens to be a mom, and all the other things you are, too.

Some of the other benefits you start sharing your genius:

  • You don’t have to try so hard to prove your worth, so you get to show up more authentically in every part of your life.
  • Your kids get to see you shining. Which means they respect you more as a multi-dimensional person and not just “mom.”
  • You model for your kids how to be true to themselves, challenged, and fulfilled. Honestly, is there any better gift you could give them?
  • When you honor your innate talents and share them with the world in some way – big or small – you make it possible for the people around you to do it too. Not because you sit down and give them a lesson on how to do it. Just because they get to see you do, which then triggers the thought, “Hmm, I could do that too.” When I re-did my website to feature my coaching, it inspired my husband to hire someone to build his own site, which he’d been talking about for 2 years but hadn’t made any progress on.
  • Sharing the best parts of yourself is uplifting to everyone you come in contact with. It also draws people toward you who like you for who you really are.
  • You get to be recognized for your natural talents. Think about that. This is big.

In the spirit of the new year, give yourself the chance to do a little big-picture thinking so you can see what you already do well and then lead with that. Ask yourself:

  • What are you innately good at, so good that it feels easy and like you could never imagine that someone would pay you for it? That’s your genius.  (For me, it was loving talking about “big” stuff and hating chit-chat, being curious, and giving pep talks.) It could be anything — cooking, listening, finding the humor in otherwise sucky situations, making eye contact. Don’t discount anything here.
  • How could you do more of what you’re good at? Maybe it’s as simple as changing the way you interact with your husband and kids; or maybe it’s the seed of a business idea.
  • Start looking for opportunities in your day-to-day life to use more of those skills and talents that come so naturally to you. They are there. Everywhere. But if you’ve been pooh-poohing what you’re good it, you haven’t let yourself see them. Looking for the chances to bring your big guns boosts your energy, and keeps you from always being on the lookout for things that are wrong, messed up, or need fixing.

Whatever steps you take, when you let your genius lead they way, you kick off a host of benefits that starts with you and ripples out to everyone around you…including your kids.

Photo: Flkckr user Dreaming in the deep south via Creative Commons License

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Kate Hanley, Ms. Mindbody, Kate's Yoga Playhouse, life coach for moms Kate Hanley is author of The Anytime, Anywhere Chill Guide as well as a life coach, speaker and yoga instructor. You can learn more about Kate at www.msmindbody.com or register for her upcoming one-day retreat at www.katesyogaplayhouse.com.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire January 4, 2013 at 10:27 am

Awesome article, and your client’s comment added some much-needed humor to my day. Thank you!

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Kate January 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Hi Claire,
Thanks, glad to be of service! I know, that comment slays me too. It really is SUCH a relief to bring those thoughts you think but never really examine out in to the light of day. They’re great for a laugh, but looking at them objectively also takes the sting out of them. After all, you can’t change a habit you don’t know you have.
Kate

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Nina January 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I’ve always felt that whatever is good for mom is good for the kids. Meaning, so long as mom is taking care of herself and being the best PERSON she can be, then that will translate to her child-rearing as well. Great post!

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Kate January 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Nina, high five, sister! What I love the most about being true to yourself is that just your doing it helps empower the people around you to do it for themselves too. It might mean the kids eat more hot dogs (or whatever your go-to brainless kid dinner is), but they also know down deep in their bones that they can make a difference in the world just by being true to themselves. And it works for husbands too — I’ve seen it with myself and my clients that relationships and partner behaviors change for the way way way better when mom’s doing what it takes to be happy. :)

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keya January 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Love this one. I really needed to hear that this week, and seem to be hearing/reading the same sentiment from different people and place. You gotta love who you are and do something that you are passionate about.

Thanks!

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Kate January 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm

You also gotta love getting reinforcement from the universe — so cool that you’ve been getting the same message from different places. Sounds like you’ve got some great momentum on switching things up, keya!

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Sher January 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm

very timely message for me…I can so relate.
Thank you for sharing!

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Kathleen January 5, 2013 at 8:25 am

I’ve been reading this blog for a while, but this was the first post that really resonated with me. I have been trying to figure out what I really really really want to do with my time and life. Rediscovering what I am good at after so many years of personal neglect is challenging. Motherhood changed me to someone who is not recognizable. I feel the tired, mundane, unappreciated weight of motherhood. I have always worked part-time from home, but it is boring and unfulfilled lifestyle. I need to find my new passion, my new gig and I’ve been searching for 2 years. I need a step by step program to follow.

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Kate January 7, 2013 at 10:13 am

Kathleen, I’ve totally been there. Totally. Not too long ago, the biggest vision I could muster for myself was what to have for dinner. :) It is 100% possible to not only get out of the rut you’re in, but to use it to fuel your passion. Knowing what doesn’t work and what you won’t accept is great for building resolve! I’m working on an online Re-Boot Camp class for just such a step-by-step plan, but in the meantime, if you’d like to schedule a (f-r-e-e) call so I can help you see your next step, use this link to find a time on my calendar.
This goes for anyone reading this!
https://www.timetrade.com/book/XV1VK
Hang in there. Kate

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Tami -- Teacher Goes Back to School January 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

The problem, I believe, is that pouring all of our ambition and energy into trying to be perfect moms can have the opposite of the effect we’d like. <— gulp. I knew this to be true and yet….

Going back to work more full time might be the best thing for me. I've been struggling with this concept of value the whole year I've been home with our daughter. I'm after my husband to constantly recognize what I am doing with her and how well it is going, when really I need to recognize it myself.

Thanks for the great, thought-(and laugh) provoking post. I look forward to reading more of your work. I've added your blog to my reader.

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Kate January 7, 2013 at 10:16 am

Hi Tami,
Glad the post resonated with you. Yeah, it all starts with us. When we see our own value, the people around us do too. When we start showing up differently, the people around us start showing up differently too. That’s what I love the most about this work: when you start embodying a new way of being, you make it possible for others to do it too. Not because you tell them too, just because they see you do it and some part of them thinks, “hey, I could do that too.”
If I can support you during your decision, please take me up on my offer of a free consultation: https://www.timetrade.com/book/XV1VK!
:) Kate

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Claire January 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Much as I totally agree with the premise that pouring all our energy into motherhood perfection is counterproductive, I also think it is important to appreciate the joys of motherhood and acknowledge the value of the role of mother. It makes me sad when mothers neglect themselves or put all their eggs in one basket (motherhood) without pursuing other passions. But I don’t think it’s wrong for motherhood to be one of those passions. Yes, we need to guard against the futile pursuit of perfection in motherhood. Yes, motherhood should not be our only outlet or passion. But mothering is an important role, and children are a blessing, and reminding ourselves of that, while also taking care of ourselves and pursuing other passions/talents, go hand in hand.

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Kate January 7, 2013 at 10:23 am

Hi Claire,
Totally and utterly agree that motherhood deserves to be a passion. 100%. Here’s how I see it — when we’re confident that we’re doing good in the world, we don’t have to prove how great we are at anything. Because no matter how noble or important a task you’re doing — like raising kids, for example — if you’re doing it to prove to yourself or anyone else that it’s noble or important, your energy is going in to the proving, and not in to the work itself. It’s like busting your hump to keep a clean house so your kids or your husband will notice, versus keeping the house clean because it’s important to you, so you just do it. You lose the drama and the inner dialogue that says “I’ve got to do this better so people will see how great I am at it!” and “Why isn’t anyone seeing how great I am at this and how hard I work?” You can actually enjoy the process and the fruits of your efforts. Or, put another way, you can stop trying to parent the sh$t out of our kids. :)

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Debbie February 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Love this Kate,Thank you! I’m a busy working mom that struggles with not staying home with my son like my sisters and many friends do. They are constantly telling me I don’t know how you do it and that’s exactly what I wonder about them. I have such a strong feeling of purpose in my career and feel like I offer so much to my work team I can’t imagine not having that in my life. Unfortunately, I faulter in the taking care of myself area but I inevidently return through my yoga practice. I love my son and husband dearly and truly agree with you that I am giving them the best me if I stay true to my gobal and community calling of helping people. I try to be the role model for my son to teach him the value of helping others that are in need. However that looks. Thanks also for taking the time to reply to the posts, it feels good to find a group of women out there with similar ideals.

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Debbie February 12, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Sorry, it should have read inevitably. :)

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Kathy February 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Your words hit me hard. I’ve been struggling with my parenting and my current stay at home status. I have kind of lost myself as well as trying to “parent” my son to the fullest. Thank you for sharing.

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