Mommy Burnout: Supermom Complex

Supermom complex

We have an epidemic of supermom complex in our society. You may have never heard of it, but it can be a severe disorder that negatively impacts physical and mental health, as well as relationships.

Supermom complex is when mom feels the need to be excellent at… everything. Parenting. Cleaning. Work. You name it and it must be perfect.

Isn’t perfection a good thing?

I’m not going to lie, it would be amazing to be perfect (I’m sure my wife wishes I were a little closer to perfect as well). That being said, my life became significantly easier when I realized just how unlikely I was to achieve perfection. And by that, I mean it is impossible.

Perfection becomes a huge problem when it comes at the expense of our families and our own self-care.

  • Tradeoffs – Life is filled with tradeoffs. When you choose to spend your time on one thing, you are not able to spend it on another. Spending your time to ensure perfection at work means less time for family.
  • Perfection is subjective – Your definition of perfect is different from my definition (sorry, honey!). Supermoms define perfection at a level that is literally unattainable because it’s either all perfect or it’s wrong.
  • Emotional consequences – Not reaching the level of perfection supermoms require often makes them feel like crap about themselves. Our mind starts to tell a lot of negative stories when we don’t live up to our own expectations. I can’t tell you how many supermoms have told me that, before bed, their mind says to them, “I’m not a good mom.”

Thankfully, there are ways to minimize the effects of supermom complex!

Recognize the Problem

The first step in addressing any problem is identifying that a problem even exists (take the mommy burnout quiz!). Do you feel constantly exhausted? Ever fantasize about getting a break from your spouse, kids, and housework? Do you often wonder how other moms do it all? If these questions are hitting a little close to home, I’m sorry to break the news to you, but you might be a victim of supermom complex.


The 80/20 Rule and Supermom

You may or may not have heard of the 80/20 rule. In business, 20% of your efforts will be the ones that return 80% of your profit. It’s key to identify those actions that fall into the 20% that achieve the highest return on investment to run an efficient business.

This rule is also part of the reason why perfectionists struggle so much. The first 80% to complete a task will only take around 20% of the time and effort. However, as a task goes above the 80% perfection mark, it requires significantly more time and attention to complete.

The final 20% as you approach perfect completion will take 80% of the total time and effort for the task!

So, supermom, is a 20% improvement worth spending 4x as much time and effort? It can be helpful to remember the refrain, “perfect is the enemy of good.” This especially rings true when it comes at the expense of our own self-care or quality time with our families!

Use the 80/20 Rule to Your Advantage

While it’s a difficult adjustment for supermoms to make, the 80/20 rule can be used to make our jobs as parents a little easier in two ways.

First, identify the 20% of tasks that will give you 80% of results with your family or your own self-care.

Maybe making time to chauffeur to dance class or soccer games gives you quality time together in the car. Perhaps getting your morning exercise provides a bigger payoff than making the perfect breakfast spread for the family.

Only you will know which activities will have the best return on investment.

The second way to apply the 80/20 rule is giving yourself permission to slouch 20% of the time.

Maybe you read books to your child five nights a week, but two nights you allow them to watch a movie. If it’s important to have fresh, organic food, do that 80% of the time while allowing a 20% break for pizza and soda.

Allowing yourself permission for imperfection in some areas helps prevent you from failing in the most important areas.

If you’re a supermom, then I know you’ve read this far because you could never let an article go only partially read (ha!). These are only a few of the ways you can start treating supermom complex, but some of the most important as well.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to consider and prioritize the numerous tasks in your life. It only takes a few minutes to make small changes that focus your time and effort on those activities that provide you and your family the greatest satisfaction.

And if you want a little extra help, please reach out and schedule a consultation. I’d love to chat with you about the ways we can work together and begin bringing a little peace to a chaotic world. 

Dr. Kevin Hyde

Dr. Kevin Hyde

Dr. Kevin Hyde is a clinical psychologist licensed to practice in the state of Florida. He resides in Pinellas County with his wife and two young daughters. In his spare time, Dr. Hyde enjoys relaxing at the beach with family, watching Nationals baseball, baking bread, and keeping up with current events. He founded Pinellas Anxiety Specialists with the intention of providing high quality anxiety therapy to reduce the stress and anxiety that so many cope with on a daily basis.