Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Forget superwoman!:

Don't try to be a superwoman - it's good for your health.
By Beverly Goldsmith
Date: September 07 2013
Tags: life, super mums,
Editor Rating:

If you’re a mother then you may often find yourself juggling tasks – raising children, managing a household, holding down a job, caring for older relatives and participating in family and community activities.

Trying to fit everything into the daily schedule while remaining happy and healthy is demanding. It can cause a seemingly normal female, to try to become a superwoman.

While no one is expected to “leap tall buildings”, the desire to be a super-individual and effectively accomplish every task, can be tough to surrender.

Hanging on to it, can often lead to self-inflicted pressure, a false sense of responsibility, and feelings of guilt or failure if every job isn’t successfully completed. It can also make saying “no” that much harder.

Being an “I can do everything” type of person, and taking on too much each day, can also be unhealthy.

According to psychologist Dr Lynn Bufka stress can occur because “Mothers often put their family needs first and neglect their own.” Admirable though this may be, keeping on top of everything can lead to burn-out.

That’s why“It’s okay”, Dr Bufka says, “to relax your standards – don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to have the ‘perfect’ house or be the ‘perfect’ mother. No one expects you to be Superwoman.”

To get life into balance, maintain good health and beat the stress factor, Dr. Bufka offers these suggestions. “Put things in perspective–make time for what’s really important. Prioritize and delegate responsibilities. Identify ways your family and friends can lessen your load so that you can take a break. Delay or say no to less important tasks.”

Stop the world. It’s time to get off

It’s helpful advice to take on board, especially if you’re inclined to say yes to everything that’s asked of you. I once tried being a superwoman, until burdened-down, tired and unhappy, I was forced to review my “to do” list. In writing down all, and I mean all, of my regular commitments, it was a shock to find there was no time left to draw breath. The list was cut.


  • Regularly check your “to do” list. It doesn’t have to keep building up.
  • A good rule is: if you add something to it, then drop something off.
  • Overhaul your thinking and actions.
  • Take a break from the treadmill of life.
  • A poem by W.D. Longstaff, offers this advice: “Take time to be holy, Be calm in thy soul; Each thought and each motive beneath His control.” This can mean slow the pace down, take time for quiet contemplation. When asked to do something, pause, think calmly, consider your schedule, check your motives, ask yourself if it’s right for you to accept yet another request.

Learn to say no. It’s ok.

Good people, busy people, and those who believe they’re the “can’t say no” type, are often asked to do things for others. On such occasions, it’s useful to remember that it’s more than possible that your assistance may not be their only answer. It’s OK to decline.

One night at 11pm, my telephone rang. An acquaintance begged me to come immediately and back her car down her narrow driveway. 

As I was deciding whether to get out of bed and drive 45 minutes to her, the thought came to pause and think before answering. My own genuine needs had always been met and often in most unexpected and wonderful ways. So I told her I wouldn’t be coming while reassuring her that there would be a solution. Her need would be met. As she angrily banged the phone down, I felt a pang of guilt for saying no. Ten minutes later, she called to say the problem was solved. A neighbour had seen her porch light on, and kindly moved her car.


  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Resist saying yes to everyone.
  • Don’t feel bad if you decide to say no.
  • Keep a sense of balance.
  • You’re worth looking after too.

Doing this may take practice, but the good news is that it can help you not to overcommit. Best of all, it can stop you trying to become superhuman. Instead, you’ll remain a normal, healthy, stress-free woman.

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12 Total Comments
Heather says: 2013 09 07

Loved your ideas in this article Beverly. I forwarded it onto my daughter who has a young family.

I remember as a young mum myself - hiding ‘stuff’ in the shower - so that things appeared calm when my hubby came home!  Until I learned it’s much more important to give children the love that they need - lots of time - and the “house” - that didn’t need to be top of the stakes!
Keeping a balanced view of what’s essential, valuing grace and poise and tipping other things off the list, is so important for your sanity.
I find I’m still working at this as a grandma! Learning to say no much more often.

Beverly Goldsmith says: 2013 09 07

Thanks Heather for your comment. Good to know that you are applying these life-lessons as a grandma. Loving our kids and learning to decline what is unnecessary, does help keep life in perspective.

Kerri says: 2013 09 07

You are so right. Trying to do everything is self-inflicted pressure and a false sense of responsibility. Learning to decline with grace to do things you deem less important is an valuable step in independence for everyone. Share tasks. That way others feel part of the effort too. Safety instructions in a plane involve applying your own oxygen mask first then taking care of others. The same is true in normal life. Think of it not as self-love in a negative way but as self-respect.

Beverly Goldsmith says: 2013 09 07

Thanks Kerri. I too love the idea of taking care of one’s self first before helping others - as the oxygen mask reccomends. That’s great to think of this as self-respect not self-love.

Yvonne says: 2013 09 07

Thanks to Motherpedia for publishing this article by Beverly Goldsmith. As an older mother,I think this is an ideal way to reach the thoughts of young mothers and their everyday issues. I am sure that by looking at their problems from a different perceptive, this will bring happy and healthy results. Keep up the good work!

Beverly Goldsmith says: 2013 09 07

Thank you Yvonne. It’s good to know that you think that Motherpedia is helping mothers of all ages to be happy and healthy. I agree with you. It is a privilege to share ideas with all Mums.

Valerie Minard says: 2013 09 09

Hi Beverly,

I loved the ideas and poem you shared.  When we take that time to stop and listen to the spiritual intuitions that come to us about what is important or not, we’re more likely to make wise decisions on what we take on.

Beverly Goldsmith says: 2013 09 11

Thank you Valerie for your comment. I totally agree with what you have written. It is so helpful to stop and think first about what we actually need to undertake each day. Just that moment’s pause, can reveal a whole new way of accomplishing something - or helping someone find the answer.

Lorraine Mahon says: 2013 09 12

Dear Motherpedia,
Thank you for this article by Bev Goldsmith And the commments which have made me think and ask myself what are my motives for accepting new duties,?  Is it to impress or express kindness and consideration for my family.  Articles like this provide food forthought and hopefully improved actions

Beverly Goldsmith says: 2013 09 12

Thank you Lorraine for your comment. I am glad that you are examining why you’re taking on extra duties. I like the idea of making sure we don’t take on more to do, simply to impress others. Good point.Motives are important.

susan says: 2013 10 12

Well done Motherpedia for giving us this thoughtful and empathetic article by Beverly Goldsmith. As someone who has seen needs everywhere and felt compelled to answer them with as much effort as I could muster, I well know what it is like to just about fold under all these commitments. You then become, as Mum and Grandmum, too stressed to be there for your own family and for yourself. Since for mums, family is so important, you must take time to look after yourself to be a balanced presence in their lives.

Beverly Goldsmith says: 2013 10 15

Thank you Susan for your comment. I like your advice for a Mum to take time to look after herself. This way as you say she will be a “balanced presence” in her family’s life - and she will enjoy motherhood.

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