Self Care for Moms: Emily Kane interviews the University of Moms’ April O’Leary
Recently milkmakers founder Emily Kane interviewed April O’Leary, founder of the University of Moms, on how moms can make sure their own needs are getting met while keeping up with the pressures of motherhood. To listen to the full interview, click the arrow above.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
Emily Kane: What are some of the typical traps moms fall into when they have children which cause them to lose focus and feel overwhelmed?
April O’Leary: There are a few traps that most women are susceptible to when they become moms. First, most moms think it is selfish to take care of themselves or think of their own needs. Once they have a baby, they completely set aside their own needs to focus on the baby. For a time, this is necessary and healthy. Babies do need a lot of care. But when this pattern continues, moms get lost in their own lives. They feel they don’t exist except in their role as mom. This can lead to a lot of frustration and anger. On top of that, many moms feel it is their job to make sure everyone else is happy. This is a heavy burden to carry and also leads to them being overwhelmed. There are a few others too which I cover in my free video series, “4 Simple Ways to Make Time for You and Feel Happier Too.”
Emily: Did you ever experience them? What happened?
April: Yes! As a mother of 3, it wasn’t that long ago I was completely lost in my own life. I was an at-home mother who had a 5 year old, a 4 year old and I was nursing a newborn. On top of that, I had a 1 year old puppy and 2 cats and a lot of frustration. I never took a break. I thought it was my job to be a 24/7 mom. Because I wasn’t taking care of myself or my needs, I was snapping at my kids and resentment started building in my marriage. I can remember just wishing I could drive in the car alone, or have an hour to myself, but somehow I didn’t think that was possible. I was jealous of anyone who had any free time!
Emily: How would a mom know if she has fallen into these traps?
April: The biggest way to assess where you’re at is to ask yourself, “How am I feeling in general?” We all have our ‘off’ days, but in general, do you feel relaxed, contented and happy? Or are you feeling overburdened, trapped, frustrated or angry? Track your feelings on a day-to-day basis for about a week. Also, if you find your reactions are disproportionate to the situation (i.e., your child spills milk or your spouse leaves his socks on the floor and you fly off the handle), chances are you have fallen into this trap.
Emily: What are a few simple steps a mom could take to put some focus back on herself guilt-free?
April: The first step is to realize that taking care of you is not selfish. It is necessary. Guilt, by definition, is only legitimate if you are doing something wrong. Taking care of yourself is not ‘wrong,’ it’s healthy and smart. Think about it: when you are on an airplane, one of the instructions they give at the beginning of each flight is, “If this cabin loses air pressure, put on your own oxygen mask first and then help your children.” Or think about a car. You have to fill it up with gas before you can expect it to take you anywhere. So schedule in some personal time. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your partner about what your needs are and then find a way to get them met, whether that requires swapping babysitting with a friend, hiring a nanny once a week, getting family to help out, or getting up an hour earlier. You have to make the time.
Emily: What are some of the challenges in doing so?
April: When everyone else is used to you being available 24/7 and you start stepping back to take care of yourself a little bit, there will be an adjustment period. Your child might cry when you leave him with a babysitter, your husband might question your night out to dinner with some friends when he has to put the kids to bed. But knowing that what you are doing is beneficial to your overall health and happiness and ultimately beneficial to everyone’s health and happiness can help you weather these little storms, knowing that soon enough they will pass and everyone will see the change in you.
April O’Leary is a Certified Life Coach, Author, Founder of the University of Moms and mother of three. She helps moms who feel overwhelmed, frustrated or stressed-out to take care of themselves guilt-free and to stop reacting and start creating the peace they desire in their homes. To get her free video series, “4 Simple Ways to Find Time For You and Be Happier Too,” visit UofMoms.com.
For more detailed info, you can sign up for April’s 4 lesson free video series,”4 Ways to Find Time for You and Be Happier Too,” at UofMoms.com.