Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book review: The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood

After last month's motherhood meltdown, I decided to get a few books from the library to help give me tips and pointers on how to deal with burnouts. The first book I got was "The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood: Coping with Stress, Depression and Burnout", By Kathleen Kendall-Tackett. The book was really straight-forward in it's approach by explaining why mothers get stressed and how to cope with it. I think this book could also be used for a variety of stress management and burnouts - not just for mothers, but for everybody.

Here are some great points I found in the book:

"Technology, while providing us many advantages, encourages us to race through our days so that we no longer know what we'd do if we were to slow down. Labor-saving devices seem not only to have failed to enhance the quality of our lives and free up more time, but get between us and the immediate, sensory pleasures of life and increase the pressures on us to do more. Many of us feel cut off from life's blessings, from our neighbors, from the wonders of nature, and from our sense of our own significance in the scheme of things. Modern life leaves us spiritually starved"

"When we're stressed, we're simply not as available to meet the needs of others"

"Reducing stress in your life is not "selfish". Rather it is something that can benefit you, your family, and your community"

"When you're a passenger on an airplane, you are told that in the event of a change in cabin pressure, you should put your mask on first and then assist your children. You can't help them if you are unconscious. A similar principle applies with your day to day health. Mothers tend to put others first. While this is admirable in one sense, it is not a good practice in the long run. You cannot strike a balance between your needs and the needs of your family if you are constantly run down. Stop abusing your body."

"Isolation can be a particular problem for mothers at home with small children. Mothers become isolated from each other because we fear judgement. Other mothers can be our harshest critics. And we anticipate that criticism and don't ask each other for help."

"Mothers believe they are being selfish if they take some time to nurture themselves and limit their obligations."

"Burnout can be defined as a loss of enthusiasm, energy, idealism, perspective, and purpose; it has been described as trying to run a marathon at full speed. It's often the mothers who care the most who are the most prone to burnout."

"The belief that mothers should give endlessly is not realistic."

"Our culture sends some amazingly contradictory messages about what an ideal mother is like. Mothers try to live up to these ideals without recognizing the contradictions or the improbability of the task. As mothers, you are often expected to have a fulfilling career, time for personal interests, a rewarding marriage, involvement in your communities, a thorough grasp of current events - and be able to provide baked goods at a moment's notice."

"The sheer number of hours that mothers work during the day depletes the body."

"In most families, care-giving becomes the woman's responsibility. While care-giving can enrich you, it can also deplete you if you don't have support or make time for self care."

"The home is a haven for men, but not for women with children."

"SAHMs also face a second shift. Mothers with young children spend much of their day tending to the needs of the kids; those with children participating in extracurricular activities may find that much of their day is spent in the car. Some days, its an accomplishment just to take a shower and get dressed. When her partner comes home, an at-home mom often uses this time to prepare dinner, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, or clean the house."

"One of the most challenging hours of the day is the hour before dinner - "the witching hour". Partners returning from work at this time may also desperately want some time to decompress. Children are often most needy during this time as well."

"Fatigue is an excellent gauge of well-being because it is a very hard symptom to mask. The only way to get rid of fatigue is to treat the underlying causes. Fatigue has many faces, but they all say the same thing - the mental and physical load are too great."

"Fatigue is epidemic among women in general, and mothers in particular. Mothers talk about sleep the way someone who is starving talks about food. Fatigue can overshadow your life, making everything seem like too much trouble."

Tips on reducing stress:

"Be unavailable at least some time every day. If you want to de-stress, it is important that you have some time everyday, when you are not available."

"When you are faced with too much work, do less of it. Start delegating as much as you can. You are not the only one who can do most types of work."

"Seek a mothering mentor - talking with older women can help you realize how quickly this time goes when looked at from the perspective of a whole life."

"When you are burned out, one of the first things you need to do is reconnect with others. Start with your family. Set aside time to be with your partner and children. See friends. It's important to reconnect with people who can give back to you emotionally."

"Practice being grateful for what you already have. The stressed lifestyle always keeps us looking to what we don't have, what we haven't accomplished, whats wrong with our lives. By standing back and looking at your life, you may start to see the things that are really going well for you."


Dear readers, which of the quotes speak to you?



  1. I think all of the advices are good. And having older kids, I can testify that whatever you do and however hard you try, they will still blame you one day and have a different view than yours about their childhood. That is the cycle of life. So you'd better relax and enjoy all the lovely moments shared with your kids whilst they are young because it's such a special relationship. Once I read in a magazine that if you want your kids to be happy, you must be happy yourself as they learn by example - that was a turning point for me. Take care (Padparadscha)

    1. Oh god, I hope Maya doesn't blame me! That would be awful! More and more I am realizing that she needs to be loved in a certain way and sometimes I feel like a failure in giving that love.
      You are right, I should relax and enjoy her now (while she is still giving me

    2. Later they still need the hugs but would never admit it ;) It's so true what you say that each child needs to be loved in a certain way, and the parents must adapt to this need. That is somewhat confusing when you have several kids. And I also believe that being strong enough to take the blame is a gift you do to children - not at all an Indian concept I'm afraid ! (Pad....)

  2. witching hour ha ha - That is when everybody is hungry, angry and edgy. Me and me!

    SAHMs could prepare some extra food along with lunch instead of cooking another dinner. Always have fruits + food on hand to avoid witching hour meltdowns. I come home and eat fruits or something before proceeding to cook or eat something.

    1. Totally the witching hour for me too, I get so HANGRY (hungry + angry)....I have to eat a banana!

  3. The book seems to be full of wisdom. For technology, it is often our choice. Overuse is a result of FOMO.

    1. It is so hard with technology, now it has become so easy to access on our phones, it is easier to get warped in!

  4. Hey alexandra
    what does your
    husband do for a living? It seems you people are rich

    1. Why does it matter what my husband does? If I am "rich" I would be because of my OWN successes.

      Please read and educate yourself:


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