A mom friend told me she was feeling kind of run down recently, then asked how I was feeling. When I said I was tired, my friend perked up and said that she thinks it is something in the water. “I know a lot of moms who feel kind of frumpy. It has to be the water.” I laughed until I realized she was serious. I tried to explain that I think the tired, stretched-thin feeling comes with the job. Moms have a lot to juggle: kid activities, work (inside or out of the home) and a disproportionate amount of household chores, to name a few. Short of round the clock nannies, it’s hard to imagine feeling rested until the kids are sent off to college.
A lot is made of the downside of overscheduling kids and rightly so as the benefits of play are clear. But what’s left out of the discussion is something which many of us suffer from: overscheduled mom syndrome. My kids are young, which means that while they each have their own activities, neither participates in anything requiring traveling tournaments or extensive practicing. Yet, even though they are only modestly scheduled, having multiple kids with a few activities a piece produces a parent with a lot of driving, scheduling, and organizing to make this work. I find myself frequently feeling overextended, bouncing from one activity to the next or one chore to the next, all in an effort to keep the train on the tracks, so to speak. This leaves me wondering if researchers are studying the effects of no play time for mom.
I doubt I will ever see a headline touting a Harvard study on the importance of free play for moms. Or a government-sponsored pedicure program for struggling moms. If playtime is important for kids, doesn’t it correspond that moms would benefit from some free time to read or knit or rest in the sun, not including the typical one minute that turns into 10 minute break to check Facebook or email that punctuate most days.
It’s hard to stay at the top of one’s game with so many demands. I rarely feel like I give my full attention to much when there is so much to balance and I’m in a constant state of multi-tasking. Folding laundry while diluting some orange juice for my son, while on a phone organizing a project, while hearing my daughter call “MooooOOOOoommm,” all at once is nothing new, not to me or to any mom. It’s even to the point where I’ve had to remind myself to stop what I’m doing and look my children in the eyes when they speak to me. While not abusive, it’s not the type of parenting I’d had in mind.
The older kids get, the more jobs get added to the list of parental demands. Classroom volunteers are needed at school, coaches are needed for soccer, snack shack workers for baseball, drivers are needed for field trips, all adding up to a full calender and a frenzied life. If only there was a “I gave at the office,” loophole for all of the activities asking for help, like a set number of volunteer hours for the year. “I coached basketball, so I get a pass for softball this year.” I’m tired of feeling guilty for saying no when I’ve definitely done my share, but cannot sacrifice my sanity further. This year I had to talk my way out of the building during soccer sign ups because I was being pressuring to take on a volunteer role for which I didn’t have any interest or time.
Massages for Moms. That is all I am asking. (And not the type of massage that comes with strings attached.) It’s not the water, a little free play would help every mom.