An Ode to the Suburban Mother

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BY DR LYDIA THURTON 

I’d like to discuss a beautiful and hard working type of human being – the suburban mother. As the Toronto area expands, so do our suburbs. As real estate prices sky rocket people are migrating to the city limits to raise their families.

This has created the downtown-commuting, child-rearing, holding-it-all-together suburban mother. Acknowledging the difficulty of this new role for women is an important first step in managing health situations that are sure to arise from the sheer stress of having to be all things to all people.

Never in the history of humanity have women had to chase the almighty dollar, while trying to raise children, and maintain a home. Gone are the days of stay-at-home motherhood. For many mothers, Go Train commutes and board meetings replace school bake sales and mid-afternoon TV programs.

While not all women are stressed by this role, I find many are. Last week I left work upset. After a string of wonderful, intelligent but extremely burnt out women had populated my office I had to wonder, “is this all worth it?” Is it worth the yearly trip to Disney World? Is it worth the house with the two car garage? Are women really fulfilled with their careers in such a way that it makes the fatigue tolerable. For some, I’m sure it is worth it. Why else would they do it? But, I can’t help but wonder if we’ve been sold a dream. A dream of “leaning in” and “having it all” that just isn’t set up to promote self-care and well-being.

A big kudo goes to the men who have stepped up and adapted to this monumental change in the structure of the family. A partner that cooks, cleans, drives kids and is aware of the household needs is invaluable.  Here’s a tip for the men – if your wife has a low sex drive, chances are, she needs more help.

And to the lovely mothers that read this column, I implore you to prioritize your health. If you are feeling more and more fatigued, reach out for help. Your family needs you. Our economy needs you and this world is a better place because you are here raising children and contributing to the betterment of society.

Signs of mommy burnout include feeling “wired but tired,” gaining tummy fat, feeling overly emotional, increasing period pain, digestive disturbances and headaches. The first step is deciding that you are important. That you deserve breaks, vacations, time away from your kids, time away from the office, time to unplug – time you control.

At the root of feelings of burn out is a lack of control over one’s time. Constantly feeling like we “should” be doing something – laundry, exercise, finishing a report. To prevent burn out, analyze how much of your time is within your control. Asserting control over your time is healthy and sends a message of your intrinsic value beyond what you contribute to everyone else.

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