These days, we give a lot of lip service to the idea of being a “good-enough” mom. But sometimes, even when we know we SHOULD feel okay with blowing off the housework for one evening or saying “not today, honey” to our child’s 146th request to play Candy Land… deep down we often feel like we’re failing.
Now that I have the benefit of almost 16 years of parenting hindsight, I can clearly recognize 8 incorrect, limiting beliefs I secretly held on to for years…that did nothing but hold me back:
1. “I can’t spend money on myself.”
Several years ago I noticed a strange pattern in our family spending. When we’d create a budget that included spending money for both my husband and myself, he’d spend his on, well, himself. I, on the other hand, would wind up using a big chunk of my stash on kids’ clothes, activities and art supplies (that they already had plenty of anyway.)
Why? I guess I just felt strange about having money set aside just for me to blow, and I tried to dampen my guilt by doling it out on my kids instead.
I’ve worked hard to overcome that tendency, because you know what? My wants matter just as much as any other family member. It took practice, but now I have no problem spending my spare cash on a pedicure instead of Play-doh.
2. “Good moms love playing with their kids.”
Playing with kids is way over-rated. There’s a reason grownups are grownups and kids are kids, and it’s only natural if you don’t relish brushing Barbie hair or pushing plastic cars around on the rug. My solution is finding ways to “be playful” with my kids that don’t involve me having to keep up with a convoluted action-figure storyline. Tea parties, storytelling, and board games are more my speed – find some fun things you can do with your kids that don’t make you twitch, and say “no thank you” to the rest.
3. “Taking energy away from my family to do something I want to is selfish.”
My motto? Sometimes being “selfish” is the most unselfish thing we can do. When moms invest time and energy in our own needs and interests, we’re investing in our own happiness…which means we’re creating happier homes and a more relaxed family life. When Mom feels good about her life, everybody wins.
4. “Keeping the house clean should be my responsibility.”
Yes, it’s 2013, but 1950s gender roles can be hard to shake. Even though we logically know the division of household work should be equitable by now, it’s still only too easy to find ourselves jumping in and doing everything, then feeling like a martyr when we see the rest of the family lounging on the sofa as we clean under their feet.
The solution? Delegate. Not only your spouse, but also your kids should be picking up a lot of the slack. But keep in mind, too, that your partner might be doing a lot of stuff that you don’t notice. Be fair, but above all, don’t stew in bitter silence: if you feel like the housework is disproportionately falling into your lap, discuss it with your family and make a plan to even out the workload.
5. “If my kids throw a tantrum in public, it’s because I did something wrong.”
Here’s reality for you: If you have kids, at some point they almost certainly WILL throw a tantrum in a public place, and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a parent or that they are doomed to lifelong brat status.
What matters is how you handle the tantrum: calmly, lovingly, firmly, and with as little self-loathing as possible.
6. “Good moms do things the hard way.”
There’s something to be said for baking cookies from scratch or sewing that Halloween costume yourself. It can be an artistic outlet and one way to show kids you care. But it’s not a job requirement by any means! Do what you love, and you’re good at, the ‘hard’ way, and find shortcuts for the rest.
The way I see it, my kids feel nurtured when they walk into the house after a long day of school to the aroma of freshly-baked chocolate-chip cookies…even if those cookies came from a tube of dough.
7. “I don’t have time for…”
As author Laura Vanderkam points out, we all have the same 168 hours in a week, and we have a lot more time than we might believe. But moms are sold this idea of a busy-busy-busy life that leaves no time for rest, recreation or personal development, let alone taking more than twenty minutes to throw a meal together.
If there’s something important to you that you can never seem to find the time for, take an honest look at your schedule and how you’re spending your time. Is it true that you don’t have time to (read, exercise, cook, paint your toenails, take a shower), or are you having trouble prioritizing your activities? Are you “losing” time mindlessly surfing Facebook? Is there something you do for your kids that they can handle themselves? When I’m honest about the way I use my time, I can almost always free up enough for something I really want to do.
8. “I wish I could be as together as she is.”
Here’s a little secret: on the inside, most of us feel like we’re faking it to some degree. All of it: adulthood, parenthood, life in general! We put our best face forward because that’s what human beings do, but it doesn’t mean we “have it all together” under the surface. Rest assured that the mom down the street who seems so polished and poised almost certainly has failings and insecurities of her own. And chances are good she has no idea you feel this way, and is looking at you with envy for being so “together.”
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