Looking back, I’d say I always had a good work ethic. I was one of those employees that always showed up on time and did my job. However, I never stayed late or took work home with me. I used all my vacation days and I didn’t consider myself one of those people who put work first or had trouble pulling themselves away from their job. Which is why it was so shocking to me, that now as a stay-at-home mom, my therapist diagnosed me as a workaholic.
I started therapy for the first time a few months ago to work through my anxiety. When I was pregnant, I had to shut down my business because of complications. When my daughter was born, I fully expected to get back to work. But it didn’t work out that way. Here I am five years later, and I’m a stay-at-home mom with a few odd jobs here and there and a new business I am trying to build. Oh, and I also have anxiety.
After a few weeks of therapy I made a joke with my therapist that I was acting like a workaholic even though I didn’t technically have a job. Instead of laughing, she actually agreed that I was a workaholic. Most of my anxiety stems from trying to do it all–cleaning, cooking, being a wife and mom, working on side-hustles, freelance writing, building a business, etc.
The revelation made me really step back and take a look at my daily routine and how much was actually on my plate. And most importantly how much didn’t really need to be there. For weeks, I kept thinking about it. After some time, I realized I was pushing myself to work and to get as many things as I could get done in a day so I wouldn’t feel worthless. I attached my value to how much I could do on my own and how well my side hustles or business was doing because I felt insure *just* being a stay-at-home mom.
My therapist reminded me that “work” looked different for everyone. Of course I rolled my eyes. I told her I didn’t feel like I was pulling my weight if I didn’t do a lot. I wanted the house to be spotless. So much so, I spent most of my day cleaning. It had gotten so bad to the point that I was doing laundry every single day because I wanted to be ahead. In the rare case that I had a few moments to myself, I would start cleaning or organizing. Or I would create content for my business obsessively. I never took time for myself, and my anxiety was caused by this constant need to prove my worth.
I’m writing this to remind everyone that being a workaholic looks different for everyone because work looks different for everyone. Whether you have a job or not, being obsessed with productivity can lead to some serious issues. I know from experience. I was putting myself last and my body and mind paid the price. I felt anxious, depressed, tired, and burnt out. I chopped it all up to being a mother.
Now, with the help of my therapist and that revelation we made, I have a schedule that makes way more sense. I no longer do laundry every single day. I don’t obsess about the house being perfect. I make more time for myself. I started reading again and got back on track with exercising and eating healthy. It’s not perfect. There are days where I have trouble leaving chores for another day. I’ll see the hamper half way full and have this urge to throw it in the washing machine. It’s a process.
So, if you can relate, it’s important to know that putting yourself first is necessary. Sometimes a dirty house or a hamper full of clothes is just an eye sore and not an indication of your worth.
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