By Dr. Colleen Neumann, PsyD, MSW
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
As a clinical psychologist and small business owner, it can be hard to align the passions of my career with the obligations at home. As the mother of a four year old, it can be hard to balance the joys of bug hunting with the responsibilities of clinical emergencies!
In all things, in all parts of my life, I am constantly striving toward balance.
Mothers are often all things to all people and forget how to be our self in the process! In seeking success in parenting, our profession and our relationships, I find it most helpful to start with myself. Small, purposeful, present-focused moments can realign my day when it gets off track. Sometimes I even remember to start my day this way before even getting out of bed (like a shot when the kiddo’s alarm goes off at 7 sharp!) I try to incorporate activities like using a deliciously scented shampoo and taking the time to smell it while I lather, which can shift the focus of the task back to self-care. Purposefully choosing dish duty allows me to accomplish a concrete task and feel successful, while also creating space where everyone knows I cannot hear complaints, gives me a break to re-center myself. Of course moms know that taking a shower is a luxury time does not always afford and washing the dishes can be yet another job in the never-ending list. Shifting the focus, though, can sharpen our sense of self, create some emotional space, and re-connect our intentions with our obligations.
Anyone who knows me would say I love the outdoors and becoming a parent gives me many excuses to spend more time there. In striving for balance, my little one has become a very accomplished hiker (his personal record is 7.7 miles.) In bringing together my love for nature with my dedication to spending quality family time, I can explore the world in whole new ways. I can teach him about water currents while he teaches me to just stay still and watch until all the ripples are gone. I can witness the blooming of my hydrangeas while learning to see the beauty in the dandelions.
In my career I have the luxury of learning from dozens of women at a time while they are in therapy with me. I have taught them to focus on the small details of things they can control, to accept that they cannot change the things that are out of their control, and the beauty of knowing the difference. I have seen women shift their thoughts from what they are doing wrong to focusing on how to be proud of what they are doing right. They increase their awareness of how their needs being met will allow them to meet the needs of others. Spending 10% of their energy on an easy wardrobe, pre-planned meals, a date night or girls’ night somewhere on the calendar, and one lovely memory they can easily recall in tough moments can yield a huge return. In all things, seek balance!
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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.