I love working with “Type A” mothers who are very caught up in trying to control every little detail of their lives (and their loved ones’ lives) and spend most of their waking time creating mental to do lists.
They will often sit across from me and expect me to “fix” them or are keen to learn how to “fix” themselves in the fastest and most effective way possible. Ideally with a step by step guide with deadlines.
Feeling Out of Control
Being a super organized planner and running your life like it’s a project can work very well, up to a point. Once a woman becomes a mother those coping strategies tend to not work so well.
Trying to stop a newborn from crying, getting a toddler to comply with directions or reasoning with a 4 year old can leave you feeling very powerless.
For some women, persisting with trying to control what can’t be controlled can escalate into anxiety, panic attacks, phobias or just a sense of being overwhelmed, angry and out of control.
Type A mums are often very busy inside their heads and not so good at recognizing and handling their emotions. Often viewed as messy, irrational and best avoided if at all possible, emotions become something else that ought to be kept under control.
The Type A mum rushes through life ticking boxes, making plans, multi-tasking and trying to keep it all going as smoothly as possible, like an efficient event manager would.
The downside of this approach can be a lack of presence, difficulty in just “being” as opposed to “doing”. It’s like your body is there but the attention is mostly on what you’re supposed to be doing next; the lights are on but there is no one home.
How to Manage
If this resonates with you, I would suggest the best, most effective strategy is to slow down. Physically slow down your body, your breath, your walk, your talk, and your thoughts.
Of course there is much to do and you can still accomplish it all. I am suggesting that slowing down and bringing your full attention to what is happening in this moment is the only way to truly savour life. Even if life at the moment is difficult and uncomfortable, you are fully there, witnessing it all.
Engage all your senses, learn how to uni-task, be curious (e.g. pretend you have never seen your child before – what do you notice?) and give yourself permission to not be productive all the time.
About the Writer
Silvia Wetherell is Co-Founder of MumRadar. She works as a counsellor and psychotherapist in an obstetric setting and has a special interest in maternal mental health. Originally from Portugal and much time spent in England, she now lives in Singapore with her husband and two young children. Silvia is also a Postpartum Support International Coordinator and Co-founder of the support group Mindful Mums.
Silvia has the loudest laugh, loves swimming in the ocean and snuggling on the sofa with her two cats, Jaffa and Freddie.