We are proud to welcome our newest columnist, Audrey Griffin, MA, Ed., parenting lifestyle expert, real-life basketball wife to the Chicago Bulls’ Adrian Griffin, mother of four and author of the parenting book “The Day I Took Off My Cape: An NBA Wife’s Journey to Finding Family Balance.”
In an interview with EBONY.com, Audrey shared why it’s so important for mothers to shed their “superhuman” expectations in order to have a healthy, well-balanced family life.
EBONY: On your blog, RemoveYourCape.com, your slogan is to “Remove your cape and reveal the superwoman in you,” as if by resisting these societal pressures women can actually be the kind of mother’s they are striving to be anyway. How can women do that? What are some tips from your book that women can use?
AUDREY GRIFFIN: Women, unfortunately, have this idea that we have to be everything to our families and do everything. And that attitude has started to carry over into our kids and the kids start to feel like they have to be involved in all of these activities and then parents start comparing their children’s activities to other children’s activities and it just gets out of control. So what I try to help moms realize is that what may work for one family might not work for you and that you have to find your own sense of balance as a family. That allows you to feel liberated from that pressure to do what everyone else is doing or expecting. It allows your family to grow even more because you’re not over-stretching yourself.
In my book, I talk about my real life experiences and provide solutions to real life problems and spreading yourself too thin is a major and very common problem that I’ve definitely been through myself. So, in order to avoid that burnout, and have a well-managed household, you have to prioritize important tasks and you have to have a schedule. When you prioritize, all of the important tasks become manageable and you create an environment where excellence can be achieved.
I always tell women: at night, you need to make a list of your priorities to accomplish the next day. Make that list with your partner or your kids because teamwork is so important. Whether it’s cooking every day or letting your kids help with the cooking or laundry, you have to come up with creative ways to get everybody involved and invested in making your household a successfully-run home. You have to have teamwork, you have to have a schedule and prioritize what can be done and what can’t be done so it’s not all on mom, and everybody plays a role.
EBONY: Often single mothers have the most difficult time raising children because they are doing it alone. What advice do you have for single moms who don’t have a partner with whom they can coordinate or they don’t have kids who are interested in cooperating?
AG: I joke all the time – and not to take away from my husband, but — I’m like a single mother 90% of the year because he’s away at work. However, I do have him providing for us, so it’s not the same. But I do have single-mom friends and it’s all about building a support system. Whether it’s friends or family, it is so important for single moms to have a support system. I tell single moms it’s okay to have a moment to yourself or time to yourself when you need it. Ask your family members or friends to watch your kids for awhile and just take that time to yourself. But don’t just take from them; help them out, as well. Take their kids for awhile, sometimes, too. Find other single mothers with kids your age and take turns helping one another with the kids. Set up group activities and play dates for the kids. I may not be a single mother, but I still ask other moms for support and help. With four kids, I can’t always drive every kid everywhere they’re supposed to be and sometimes I just need help. So, the key for single moms is don’t be afraid to ask for help and also be able to help other moms as well.
EBONY: It’s so great, not only to have support in a husband and father and intact family, but also to have the resources to be able to do that. There was even a point where your own husband [former NBA player Adrian Griffin] was able to take a few months off from coaching the Bulls to focus on your family. What events led to that break that he took and how did that impact your family?
AG: That break was taken because at that point, the balance wasn’t there. Everything at that time seemed to be about basketball and work and getting adjusted to this lifestyle of him working a lot more hours than we were accustomed to. He wasn’t sure about the career and where we were going to head after that. I think like anyone sometimes you just have to step back from that take a deep breath analyze it and then focus on what your strategy is going to be so that you can come up with ways to have balance and that’s where we were last summer. We had to refocus and come up with strategies and ways that we can continue to have family life and work life and balance it all with our kids and giving them what they need as well.
We had to get creative with spending time with one another. We had to get creative with his presence in the kids’ lives. We knew that his time was going to be limited at home but then we came up with ways whether I would come and meet him for lunch or come up when he would have a break. When the kids had things he wasn’t able to but maybe during a lunch break he can catch a basketball games or tennis match spending time not necessarily in the home but outside the home so we can have quality time together. He would do things with the kids and set time aside so he can I can maintain our connection as a husband and wife. Talked about that and just got creative with the time that we have. Not a set schedule just checking in. a lot of our stuff could be on the whim on how we keep up keep that family connection going. We made the conscious decision to always make the time.
EBONY: You were also the Vice President of the National Basketball Wives Association for some time. A lot of the impressions about basketball wives today are coming from reality television, so what it was it really like to be a leader in that organization and to work with those women?
AG: It was great. It was a great opportunity to share with those women and give and receive advice in a really safe place. I’m still a member. It’s a sisterhood, definitely, because there’s really no one who can understand where we’re coming from and what we go through. I am definitely happy to be a part of such a great group of women.
EBONY: That’s a very different picture from the one painted on the reality show. Do you watch Basketball Wives or have an opinion of it?
AG: I’ve heard about Basketball Wives and I’ve seen a lot of the shows and I know most of the women on there. My only opinion about it is that people have to remember it’s TV. I can’t say that it’s a great depiction of us or it’s a depiction of the women I know or deal with on a regular basis at all. I don’t think it’s a great depiction of what women stand for, but it’s a show. It’s for entertainment. I think it’s a very short glimpse even into those women’s lives.
I think that all I can do is to continue to try and be positive and genuine and continue to do what’s right for me and my family.
EBONY: Would you ever be interested in doing reality television?
AG: I mean I would love to. I’m not opposed to doing reality TV. I have been approached about doing a few things that were in the works and shopping different shows for moms and I’m not opposed to that. I think it would be great to have a positive image and whether it’s the lifestyle of the busy mom. I think women really need to see that on TV, all of the things that women do behind the scenes for their families and their spouses. There is definitely a void for that. It’s definitely missing.
My goal is to just continue to help moms to be inspired and offer them messages of hope and encouragement, knowing everything isn’t perfect, but it’s all in His perfect will. I just want to continue to provide tips and solutions for women so they can know you can live an amazing, balanced life.
The paperback edition of “The Day I Took Off My Cape” will be out next month. Follow Audrey’s blog RemoveYourCape.com for the latest details and be on the lookout for her column on EBONY.com.