Being a mom is a big role all on its own– you are responsible for shaping this little person into a successful human, add to that the great expectations that society places on moms, and, well things can be just plain overwhelming.
We all have that vision of the sitcom mom. You know – the one that always has a perfectly clean house, a beautifully cooked dinner on the table every night at 5:30 sharp, and children who never have peanut butter smeared across their face and always ALWAYS have both shoes on when they leave the house.
Let’s Debunk a Few of These “Myths of Motherhood”
- A clean house is a happy house – ha! While it is true that having a clean house is more calming, sometimes it is just not worth the pressure. There are days it can feel like chasing a tornado. The second you put your time and effort into cleaning one area of the house, while yelling at your children and missing out on quality time, your children have simultaneously managed to create a disaster in the next room. Rather than putting the pressure on yourself to maintain an immaculate space, focus on de-cluttering (you know getting rid of some of the stuff catching dust in the corner) and setting aside a few minutes a day to wipe things down, do the dishes, etc. and recruit the kids to help. “It can be fun to make bubbles in the kitchen sink!”
- A good mom always has to have creative Pinterest crafts on hand to keep kids entertained and away from electronics. Yes – limiting time on electronic devices is a good thing, but you don’t need to bend over backwards to come up with things for your kids to do. Keep it simple – play an old-fashioned board game, pull out the coloring books or play dough (and no you don’t need to make it yourself) or whatever happened to good old hide-and-go-seek.
- Meals need to be homemade, well-rounded, and beautifully put together. I mean come on – we all know moms are busy. Really busy. They are taxi drivers, firefighters, maids, nurses, and teachers in addition to any career aspirations they might also be working on, and now they are expected to be world-class cooks. It is OK to take the easy way out sometimes. Recruit help from your spouse or children in making dinner – you don’t have to do it all! Crockpot meals work wonders, and rather than spending hours making your own meatballs – it is ok to buy them already made at the store.
- Birthday cakes must be elaborate and made from scratch. When I had my first child I decided every year I would make a new kind of cupcake for my son’s birthday. I told myself that would be my one thing. By his third that had changed. I couldn’t spend hours trying new recipes to come up with the perfect combination to serve a three-year-old (all he really wanted was the sprinkles anyway). It is ok to save some time and buy a cake from a bakery, store, or god-forbid make one from a box. Not everything has to be done by your own two hands.
- Your child’s appearance is a direct reflection on your mothering-abilities. Let’s take a step back and really think about this. I strongly believe in picking your battles. Is it really worth the 20-minute argument over what pair of shoes your child wants to wear, or in my case the Batman pajamas my two-year-old refuses to take off. I can feel the stares when I am in the grocery store – but is that just a figment of my imagination? It might be. Us moms, we are too hard on ourselves.
- You must record all of your child’s milestones. When I was pregnant with my first child my mother was appalled at the fact that I did not want a baby book. The truth is I didn’t want the pressure to keep track of everything. I would rather live in the moment than always try to pull out my phone for the picture or write down the very first food my son ate. I will admit there have been a few times I wish I had the memory recorded in stone so I didn’t have to worry about forgetting the every detail but the reality is the big, important things stand out. Besides who ever really reads that stuff anyway?
The Very Fact That You Worry About Being a Good Mom, Means You Are One
The bottom line is the very fact that you worry about being a good mom, means you are one. You don’t need to pressure yourself to fulfill all these unrealistic, exhausting expectations. Life is short. Enjoy your kids. If they leave the house with one shoe on or peanut butter smeared all over their face, it is ok – at least they were fed. If you let someone else make dinner or leave that load of laundry unfolded for a week, it is ok – you spent that time with your family instead. If you forgot about that homework assignment, or were late to that appointment – we are all human, forgive yourself. And, if you loose your cool sometimes because you are overwhelmed – take a deep breath and remember no one is perfect.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: email@example.com.