Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
Wearing Many Hats - The Roles We play in Life
Posted in Anxiety by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Mar 12, 2009


Yesterday was not unlike most of my days which are filled with various activities that take place at many different locations. I began my day seeing clients wearing the hat of a professional - a therapist.  I then met a friend for a lovely lunch which was followed by picking up my daughter to take her to a doctor's appointment and then to another appointment. I then saw more clients, made a few phone referrals to doctors, spoke to my mother to help her resolve a conflict, fed the kids and left them in good hands while I drove across town to get to my book club meeting.  I went from therapist, to friend, to mother and medical advocate for my child, daughter, book group member and forever the chauffer. This is not an unusual scenario for most women today who are working moms. 

The job of being a mom itself requires one to wear many different hats and when you add to that a career and aging parents we end up with a pretty full plate. There was very little time to stop and reflect on much of anything and even though most of my activities were enjoyable and even fun (although it is never enjoyable to have to take your little ones to the doctor) I was so busy I felt as though I was in constant motion. On my long but quiet drive to book club  I was able process some of the events of my day and I thought, "Who am I now?" In other words - which hat was I going to put on next?

I have written other articles here about making sure we stop and enjoy the moments of our lives. It bears repeating that we also need to do our best to be fully present in the role we are assuming at the moment.  An example of this is when couples go out on a date and talk about the children the entire evening. They are remaining in the role of parents (which of course is a constant) but often ignore the role of romantic partner. 

Ideally life wouldn't be so busy all the time but it does seem that it is inevitable in these times and at certain stages of life. This is why we have to make a concerted effort to have days that are not quite as jam packed as the one I just described. Sometimes we just need to breathe deeply and exhale letting go of the role we were just in and embracing the new one. I found myself doing this several times yesterday and yet I couldn't help but to think about my next task when I was in the midst of my current activity.

This blog will hopefully serve as a reminder to me and to the readers that we need to constantly work on the skill of effectively and consciously changing hats throughout our day. It would be great to hear from the community about how some of you manage your busy lives and to learn about any methods that you have found particularly useful in this endeavor.  I will continue to write about the topic of having a balanced life and offer tips and tools that can help us all to accomplish this goal.


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My day begins when the alarm goes off at 6:30 am right now. I have my private time in the bathroom, brushing my teeth and washing the *intimate* areas which can be a hassle because I have HS so I have to be careful that I don't spread the lesions although I've just learned that they don't spread by contact.

I take care of my mom so I am careful to wash my hands anytime I contact any of my lesions and I wash them any time I touch any of her stuff too.

I go to work and do that for 8 1/2 hours although they only pay me for 7. I don't mind though. I spend 45 minutes getting there.

Ok, what were we discussing? LOL
By cyndilu  Mar 16, 2009
the job of being an alive person means wearing many hats. but, one must set their prorities correctly to make time for the important things in life. there are needless things that we sometimes do that can be cut out of our lives.
i have worked many years and raised 4 children. i always was on the go.
when i retired and had a chance to review my life i realize that the most important thing was my family. my job is all gone. many of my friends are gone. but, my family edures for as long as god wants them to. and, they are always there when i need them. this i sometimes a hard lesson to learn when you are young and busy.

that's when everything seems more important than it is.
By tingirly  Mar 14, 2009
I rather liked reading this, it is very true for most women. I too wore lots of different hats. As my husband, that was, was and still is an alcoholic I found myself doing most things for the kids and the house as a single parent. I am really good at DIY and decorating. It is amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it. I have been divorced from him for quite some time now and my kids are all grown up, so now I have to find the hat that says 'just me' on and try to wear it more. It's just very hard trying to go from doing everything to doing not much at all. Some day I will find myself again. Let's hope it is sooner rather than later.
By fedupoflife  Mar 14, 2009
I think I saw myself in this article- I feel like I constantly have to change hats, am I graduate student, am I faculty, am I mom to a four years old girl, am I a driver, am I wife? One role that I often forget is being me and only me, and this is very rare. We all have several roles that we strive to perform good in them, but what if the excellence in some role does not work? Should you drop this role? Should you concentrate more efforts to improve it? Should you drop some less demanding roles? The role performance also interconnected with other people, what if the other person just refuse to play certain role, aka prefer to be only worker and parent, is it your own failure in that role or his?
By gluzanna  Mar 13, 2009
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