When is the last time you felt overwhelmed and unable to do it all?
Was it today? Sometime this week?
Yeah. Me, too.
I find that most moms are continuously exhausted and overwhelmed, especially these days.
A big part of that is the expectations that we feel we need to meet, both our own expectations and those of others.
When I first started staying home I made a cleaning schedule, and I was actually pretty on top of it at first. My son took two decent naps, which allowed me to clean during the morning one and get dinner started during his afternoon nap.
Now with two kiddos and my son almost never napping at all, I'm lucky to be able to keep up with dishes and laundry. It's a different phase of my motherhood experience, so it is important not to compare the current cleanliness of my house with what it looked like two years ago. At this stage, that's flat out unrealistic.
So why do we have these unrealistic expectations of ourselves?
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The blessing and curse of social media
Social media is a wonderful way to stay connected with friends and family both near and far. However, only seeing the highlight reel and not the complicated messiness of others' day to day lives can easily lead to unhealthy comparisons.
Even when you know logically that your friends aren't posting their kids worst moments either, it is easy to find yourself feeling inadequate. I find this is especially true if you're already having a rough day. There's nothing like seeing a Pinterest-perfect image of your friend with their angelic looking child after your toddler head butted you during a tantrum. Some days we all really just need some cute kittens in our feed.
Our society gives massive praise for dads who do basic parenting
The society we live in heaps praise onto men for simple parenting tasks, while judging moms for not doing things perfectly.
This isn't to bash the guys, but think about the last time you saw a dad out with his kid. When I think about what that looked like pre-COVID, when we could see everyone's smiles, I'd see a dad in a store with their kid and people smiling at them with a nod of approval. Sometimes strangers would even tell them what a great father they were.
Trouble is, those same strangers would turn around and see a mom with two kids and not acknowledge their existence. Or worse, give a disapproving glare because one of the kiddos was reaching for something or mom was occupying them with a phone. One parent is given a confidence boost, and the other has hers undermined.
No wonder we feel this incredible pressure to be perfect!
But perfect doesn't exist.
I've written before that the number one thing that will make your life easier, is to lower your expectations of yourself.
You were exhausted, and ended up scrapping your meal plan for frozen pizza instead? Sounds delish.
The living room didn't get vacuumed? Oh well.
Your children don't need a perfect mom, and thank goodness for that, because there is no such thing. What they do need is YOU. Your love, your hugs, your amazingly wonderful and imperfect self. Not a perfectly clean house that looks like it belongs in a magazine, not a pinterest-perfect bento lunch.
So how can a mom lower her expectations?
One day it dawned on me how to feel like a rockstar, or how to be a confident mom. I was cleaning up around the highchair, and about to get on my hands and knees to pick up the food that ended up there. After that I planned to get a rag and clean the area more thoroughly, since I didn't have time to mop. But I felt tired and achy and frankly, I didn't WANT to do those things.
I'm a mother, which makes me a parent. My husband is also a parent. If you're reading this I'm betting that you're a parent.
In that moment, I thought to myself "What would daddy do?" and a lightbulb went off.
My husband in this situation, would likely have grabbed the dustpan to get the big stuff. He might also have used our swiffer wetjet to spot clean. And you know what? That's great!
So why wasn't I judging my actions the way I'd judge his? Because I'm a mom, and- like a lot of women- I'm harder on myself than I am on others.
And you know what? That's nonsense. I shouldn't judge myself harder than my husband (who is a great dad), and you shouldn't judge yourself harder either.
Ultimately, the secret to being a more confident mom, is to judge yourself like a dad. We're all parents at the end of the day, and using a different measuring stick for what constitutes a good job can cripple a mother's confidence.
What if my bar for dads is really, really low?
Thankfully we have come a long way in recent generations in terms of dads being more involved and present parents. If you haven't seen a lot of that in your own life, I understand this mindset shift could feel too drastic or unrealistic to you.
So, it it feels like too much, I have a secondary mindset trick. Pretend it's not you doing whatever it is you find yourself being hard on yourself about. Instead, pretend it is your best mom friend. Most of us are easier on our friends than ourselves, so at least give yourself the grace you'd give your friend.
You deserve it.
Because at the end of the day, if you're here, reading how to be a confident mom, then trust me when I say this: you're doing a great job.
What's your favorite way to feel more confident in your abilities as a mom?
The best hack for me is to make thing obvious for everyone! Big shoe basket for all of the shoes at the door, laundry baskets in every room and bathroom, wash clothes added to the kitchen to clean dirty little faces and hands. Put sippy cups at the kids eye level so they can get their own water. Oh my favorite, is have decor for your home but can be used as a toy bin, aka wicker baskets. It’s been a game changer to make things obvious and easy.
Anne Aslanides says
I absolutely LOVE baskets and fabric bins. Great ideas Alicia!