BY HAILEY EISEN
Are you doing a good job as a mother? Do you feel like you’re in control of your life? Have you found balance? If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, the good news is that you’re not alone. While we mothers like to pretend (especially in front of other moms) that we’ve mastered the art of balancing our lives, the truth is most of us have no idea what we’re doing most of the time.
According to a tracking study conducted by Inspiring Moms, a Kansas City-based company that offers professional development to moms online and in person, almost two-thirds of women don’t feel like they are thriving in motherhood. The study looked at online responses provided by more than 1,000 moms (stay-at-home, part-time employed and full-time employed) and found that 63% don’t feel in control as a mom, 62% don’t think they’re doing a great job as mom and 50% aren’t confident in their skills as mom.
What do these numbers mean? Are we all being way too hard on ourselves or are we actually unprepared and unsupported in our role as mom? According to Amy Hilbrich Davis, the brainchild behind Inspiring Moms and a mother of seven (ages six to 18), it’s the latter. “Had we polled our moms and our mom’s moms, the results would likely have been the same” – it’s just that no one bothered to ask them.
So, now that you know the majority of women are as miserable as you are, don’t you feel a whole lot better? According to Davis, admitting how you feel is just half the battle. Taking control of your life is the only way to feel balanced.
When Davis had her first baby, she went from confident and career-driven to vulnerable and inexperienced. “Suddenly you’re cast in the biggest role of your life and you have no script, no director and no supporting cast,” she says. “It’s just you, trying to figure it all out.”
But that didn’t stop Davis from having more babies. With four kids under four (you thought you had it rough?) she knew she needed a new approach. “I started to look at motherhood as my former employer Ely Lily [the global pharmaceutical giant] had approached me as a new-hire,” she recalls. “I didn’t know a thing about pharmaceuticals when I started, but after six weeks of scientific training they put me through rigorous professional development until I was an expert.”
After enrolling in every parenting class she could find, and building up her self-confidence, she started organizing small seminars where moms would gather and share best practices. Inspiring Moms was born. What these women were in need of, she found, was someone to tell them what to do and how to do it – in an empowering and non-condescending way.
Still wondering how all of this will help you balance your life? Well, just a few years ago, Davis’ company launched the balance MAP, an online tool designed to offer personalized advice and best practices for mothers. It starts with a 15-minute, confidential online questionnaire based on how you feel about your life today and how you’d like your life to be. The MAP looks at five key areas that Davis says are the balls every mom juggles: personal wellness, partner relationships, parenting skills, support networks, and home and family management. Your responses are fed into an algorithm (developed by Davis’ husband) that spits out a 60-page action plan specific to your values and priorities.
Davis’ fundamental belief is that if you don’t take care of yourself, you probably won’t be very good at taking care take care of your children. The MAP gives you an excuse to put yourself first in small, practical and manageable ways. And by doing so, you’ll feel more in control of your life and happier in your role as mom.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s worth a shot.
First published in Mommyish.com