Staying Sane: How well do you meet your “Hierarchy of Needs”?

I had a post already written to send out this evening, but something inside me felt that I needed to talk about the “Hierarchy of Needs” that was developed by Abraham Maslow.   I’m feeling particularly out of balance this evening – after having a VERY hard weekend where I was probably doing a bit too much self reflection.

First, let’s refresh ourselves on the hierarchy of needs:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Source: Nursing Crib

“A need is something that is essential to the emotional and psychological health and survival of humans. All people strive to meet basic needs at any given time and individual’s need may be met, partially met, or unmet. A person whose needs may be considered to be healthy and a person with one or more unmet needs is at increased risk of illness or health alterations in one or more of the human dimensions.

Maslow’s framework of basic needs is based on the theory that something is a basic need if:  its absence results in illness, its presence prevents or signals health, meeting an unmet need restores health.”

Source: Nursing Crib

Let’s talk about each level and the potential implications to working mothers.


These needs are physical and essentially without them the continuation of human existence ceases.   Physiological needs such as food, water, oxygen, sleep, and bodily functions must be met for life to continue.

Implications to Working Mothers:

I know from personal experience that sleep becomes a challenge.  Hours get stretched so you may not have a choice but to cut into your sleeping hours to keep all the balls in the air.   Some working mothers are NEW moms – returning from maternity leave.   In many cases, these women are still being woken up by their babies in the middle of the night.  However, this likely gets better over time.

Sex is an interesting topic.   And one that is so written about that I probably don’t need to spend much time on this.   An exhausted mommy who is also working simply is exhausted.   And yes, this impacts sex with their partners.  Full stop.  Enough said.


Safety is both physiological and psychological.  How safe is your physical environment?   How safe do you feel psychologically?   Do you have people you can rely upon?  People that you trust?   People that you feel close to?

 Implications to Working Mothers:

I think that this is an area that can become very problematic for working mothers.   You may not be on your “A” game at work (which may be very new to them) and may feel that your job is less secure than it was in the past.    Being responsible for not only yourself but also for the new little beings that you’ve helped to enter into the world can also be a VERY powerful feeling and weight on your shoulders.   You may also be faced with the struggle over working for money to keep the family safe — and may feel like you are working now because you HAVE to for the economic interests of the family — even if this is not what you would choose to do if you had unlimited resources.


The security gained from love and belonging enhances the feeling of safety. Our feeling of structure and security is reinforced when we know where we stand in relation to others, and who we are to them. We all need mutually meaningful relationships with other people.

 Implications to Working Mothers:

This could be another area in flux with working mothers.   The time that you devoted to cultivating friendships may become less frequent.   Some working mothers have the benefit of family close-by that they can rely on, but I know A LOT of families (like ourselves for instance) where extended family is far, far away — if this is you, you may feel like you are cheating yourself, your children, and your extended family the experiences of growing with your growing family.   Extended periods of time between visits can be painful.   The extra effort required may feel too un-natural.

And then there’s the topic of sex again.   Yes, the relationship you had with your husband will forever be different with the entrance of children.   However I think this is an evolution.   In the near term things are very strained but I think eventually couples can begin to accept their new relationships with each other — change, and evolve with it.    At least I hope this is the case.


This boils down to the feeling that you are valued by others.  People who are important to you tell you that you are important and valued.   However this feeling comes from within… “it is related to the assessments of our own adequacy, our performance and our capacity in the various arenas of lives, both personal and professional and that others hold one in high regard.”  Source: Nursing Crib

 Implications to Working Mothers:

This is an area where working mothers may have the “leg-up” on other women.   But I do think that it takes time to get there.   The smile on your child’s face, the squeal of your baby when he/she sees you and so on you can probably feel immediately.   But when re-entering the workforce (after maternity leave, after being a SAHM) you may not feel like you are on your “A” game, or may feel like you have two left feet.   It may take time to honestly FEEL that approval and support from your co-workers and superiors.   But when you get it, you feel on top of the world.   Yes, the feeling like you can have it all — the children, the family, and a feeling of purpose at work where you are doing well — leads to feeling of euphoria.   You become un-stoppable.

I have found in personal experience that these feelings do come, but they often do not stay.   It’s more of a roller-coaster for me, I have my up days, and also my down days when I feel like I can’t do anything right.    But I do think that this is an area where the Working Mother can derive a tremendous amount of fulfillment.


I’m finding it difficult to write about this one because it is still evasive to me.    Sometimes I feel like I lost the “me” to everyone else.   And I desperately want to find the “me” again – although I know deep in my heart that woman I was before marriage and kids is far, far away – I see glimpses of her every now and then, but they are fleeting.

“The need to reach one’s potential through development of one’s unique capabilities.  The process of self – actualization is on that continues throughout life. The following are qualities that indicate achievement of one’s potential:

• Acceptance of self and others as they are

• Focus of interest on problems outside of self

• Ability to be objective

• Feelings of happiness and affection for others

• Respect for all persons

• Ability to discriminate between good and evil

• Creativity as a guideline for solving problems and carrying out interests”

 Implications to Working Mothers:

I think you need to have the time to focus on self-caring of yourself for this need to be met.    And for working mothers this is difficult.   Again, time is a valuable resource that seems to be stretched in all directions except for yourself.   It is encouraging to at least know that this need is viewed as one that continues over time – gets cultivated, changes, is in motion.    So, maybe recognize that you will be able to get there once the dust settles.   Or try to devote pieces of your week for self-reflection and objectivity.

So why did I feel the need to post on this subject?   I feel like many of the above needs are in flux for working mothers.   But I do hope that it gets easier over time.   It also helps to explain the feelings of inadequacy, fear, and tension that you may be feeling when trying to juggle the needs of your children, the needs of your work, the needs of your partner, and the needs of yourself.
So tips for staying sane?   Maybe the first part is just recognizing that these needs are normal and apply to everyone.   They are fundamental to happiness and health.    So if you feel out of balance, extremely unhappy, or just feeling lost — try to isolate the basic need that may be unmet or partially met, and then try to take control and take action to make that situation better for yourself.    This is easier said than done, I know.
In my case, I have seriously unmet needs in terms of safety as well as love and belonging.   I also think this is true with self-actualization, but I do not expect those needs to be met at this particular point in my life.   I’ve recognized these imbalances and am trying to drive change but it has been a LONG process that has NOT been easy — and I still have a LONG way to go; but enough about me.
Hopefully this post will resonate with someone and help in some small way.   YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for listening –
– Mama K

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