Ok, we’ll admit it…
We just used that headline to catch your attention, because we know all moms out there are trying to be that elusive ‘‘Supermom’’. More often than not, striving towards this type of perfection, actually just sees us ending up with ‘‘miserable cow syndrome’’ – which is a title no woman, wife, mom, aunt, godmother, grandmother or stepmother would be proud to wear on their superwoman cat suit.
So, we decided to ask Celeste Rushby (Munchkins Coach, Occupational Therapist and mom of three) if Supermom really exists, how she fights off ”miserable cow syndrome”, and how she does it all while still managing to look so relaxed and well looked after!
Her answers might strike you as surprisingly down to earth, authentic and practical. We hope this interview will leave you inspired and ready to take on another day, month and year of motherhood!
Celeste, you are a mother of three young children, aged 7 and 4 (boy-girl twins). What does a typical day in your life look like?
I get up at 5:30am to hop onto the treadmill while watching my favourite series (more about that later).
My hubby leaves for work just as the kids wake up so that he can be home earlier to get some quality play time with them later. Then I get the kids and myself ready for the day. After dropping them at school, I head off to work.
After work, I fetch the kids, make them (and myself) a healthy lunch. Then it’s a bit of a juggling act between homework, extra murals, errands, being my son’s OT, and keeping my kids’ love tanks topped up. Hubby gets home and has his play time with the kids while I get supper going. After the evening routine is complete, all the kids have lights out by 8pm, and my “after-hours schedule” begins…
Your mom IS Super Granny and she travels the world to give people parenting advice. Who do you reach out to when you have parenting questions?
Well of course having Super Granny on speed dial is very helpful. I’m very grateful for everything that she has taught me, and the wisdom she provides if I’m struggling to be objective in my own situations. I also find it very helpful to brainstorm with my other Munchkins colleagues who are also all moms. And of course, I am constantly attending courses and reading books on parenting, because knowledge is empowering!
How has being an Occupational Therapist changed your parenting approach? Advice for the rest of us?
As an OT, I believe in the importance of the “just right challenge”. Your role as a parent is to be your child’s scaffolding, not to be their pillar! You need to help them only just as much as they NEED you to – no more, no less – and encourage them as they work through the rest. If you make them dependent on you to solve their problems, rescue them and do things for them that they actually have the ability to learn to do themselves, it not only breaks down their confidence and inhibits their sense of ambition, but also teaches them not to take responsibility for their own actions.
Encourage them to try, and praise their genuine effort – not just their achievements. When they fail, show empathy and praise them as they dust themselves off to try again.
How do you manage your time?
Schedule EVERYTHING!!!! As a busy working mom of 3, “winging it” means that the things that most mothers would push to the bottom of the priority list – namely their marriage and the much needed “me-time” – is forgotten all together. But this actually causes more problems.
One of a child’s NEEDS is for you to invest time in your spouse so that they can have a great example of healthy relationships for their future. Another NEED is a mom who is sane, happy and actually enjoys having them around. You can’t pour from an empty cup! So, in my weekly schedule is not only work, extra murals, etc., but when and where I get groceries, Tuesday night “me-time” nights, Wednesday “indoor date nights”, Thursday church small group, every second weekend a date out of the house with hubby, daily exercise, etc.
Is there such a thing as a ‘‘Supermom’’?
My definition of a Supermom, is someone who adores her family, does her best, admits her imperfections, is gracious about the imperfections of others, seeks help in areas of challenge, and keeps a sense of humour through the craziness of life.
What do you think you get right?
The scheduled “me-time” and exercise routine! I’ve never been an exercise fan and tried for many years to find something that inspires me, keeps me motivated, fits into my budget and actually works.
I finally saved up enough for a second-hand treadmill and chose a series (that my hubby wouldn’t be interested in) that I only ever allow myself to watch when I’m on the treadmill. I used the same principle to get me out of bed at night to express milk for my twins in NICU, so I figured it would work for exercise as well. And it sure does! Five mornings a week for 42 minutes – the length of an episode.
On Tuesday nights, I either work on one of my art projects (which always revitalises me, and makes me find the “real me” again), soak in a bubble bath, or meet a friend for dinner or dessert. This scheduled me-time has done a world of good in keeping my cup full! You hold the key to your own happiness. Others can only contribute to it.
What do you think you sometimes get wrong?
Being calm and consistent when setting and maintaining boundaries go a really long way to maintain peace in the home. But, being human, once in a while I come home from a grueling day at work or I’m not feeling well, and I slip up with a snappy reaction at my kids. But, as incredibly humbling as it is to apologise to a small child for having a bad attitude, seeing their little hearts melt as they dive into my arms in forgiveness… it’s worth it. Plus, it sets a good example to them in admitting when we’re wrong.
So, other than what you’ve already mentioned, how do you prevent ‘‘miserable cow syndrome’’ (you know, on those days when everything just gets a bit much)?
Preventative: Make sure you have “me-time” scheduled weekly, take care of your health and eat a healthy diet (if I have a chocolate, I am happy in the moment and grumpy for a few hours after).
Curative: Stop! Breathe! Remember that you are the emotional temperature gauge of the family. If you are miserable, it will change the mood of everyone in your house to become miserable as well. But this incredible power works both ways. If you have a good attitude about life, keep a sense of humour in the chaos, learn from mistakes rather than curse them, keep a skip in your step and a song in your heart, this will be infectious in your home. If need be, fake it till you make it! Even forcing a smile releases endorphins which in turn make you feel happier. The snowball effect of positivity in your home will help you feel better again too.
And remember, “chill time” is a powerful tool to use when you feel like you (or any of your kids) are a bit edgy and need a break. Allocate a room or space (bedroom, outside, playroom etc.) to each child where they need to play quietly on their own for an age-appropriate length of time. It is not a punishment, but rather a preventative tool to maintain peace. This will give you all time to take a breather, relax and be calm without others in your space. We all need that sometimes, no matter how young or old you are.
Since my kids were babies, I have kept an A5 book in my kitchen drawer for each child in which I wrote down the cute and funny things they have said and done. It’s a great way to fall in love with them again when it’s been a tough day.
What have been your proudest mom moments?
There have been many, but I’ll just list one about each child:
My eldest came home after her first week at Grade 1. She said to me “Mommy, I made a new friend today. She looks different from other people, but I don’t mind. She’s a lovely person, so she’s my friend.”
My boy twin is always so considerate about the feelings of others – always full of compliments and encouragement, and asking how they are feeling.
My girl twin was incredibly brave when she had open-heart surgery at 3 years old. Never once did I have to force her down for taking blood, changing bandages or removing wires and drainage tubes. She was so compliant and brave every step of the way.
What have been your toughest mom moments?
My first child made a very surprise early arrival at 32 weeks. That was a very traumatic experience for me. Then, during my twin pregnancy, I had to go on strict horizontal bed rest, and my 2-year old just couldn’t understand why mommy couldn’t get up to play with her anymore. That was crushing. And then my twins arrived even earlier than my first – at 30 weeks. But I know that these experiences have helped me grow so much as a person and a mom, and empowered me to help so many other mothers with similar experiences.
Any additional advice or tips for mothers?
Make sure that you schedule (a minimum of) 10 to 15min focussed attention quality time with each child individually each day. This will go a long way to fill their love tanks, to really get to know who they are, to know what makes them “tick” and significantly reduce negative attention-seeking behaviour.
If you are a working mom, who, when you get home just want to tell yourself that you don’t have time or energy to colour in or play cars after a long day at the office – think about it this way: it’s half an hour of having fun with your kids versus 2 hours of fighting with them… Which option would you prefer?
Munchkins Parenting Talks, Coaching and Home Visits
Email Celeste, for more information on hosting a Munchkins Parenting Talk, or to arrange her for a Parent Coaching Session.
Parent Coaching Sessions are highly recommended and include various options, such as a Home Visits, a Coffee Consult or Virtual Home Visits (consults via Skype).
You can also visit the Munchkins website to read more about Celeste and our other qualified Parenting Coaches.