Five Habits Every Mom Should Break
This list-style article begins with a bit of hypocrisy, because we should stop listening to others and abiding by others’ lists. But I do think we moms can agree that we need to stay true to ourselves in this social media- and image-driven way of life.
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Theodore Roosevelt once said. Whether we’re comparing ourselves to other parents or our children to other children, that measuring simply is not a healthy habit. Every parent and family come from a different background with varying priorities. We all have unique strengths and weaknesses, so perhaps Mom #1 prefers nature walks over a clean house, whereas Mom #2 enjoys cleaning with all-natural cleaners while her children watch more TV.
If you have more than one child, you can attest to all children’s being programmed differently. Maybe your older walked at 10 months, while his younger sibling was content crawling until 14 months. If we see differences within our own family, think of all the differences in children in play groups or schools. We know there’s a reason experts give age ranges for stages of development. Knowing this, we must remember that we adults have varying interests and abilities too. That’s why people go into different professions: We aren’t supposed to be able to do it all.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like if we could just drop in on someone’s house, using something like the nifty Amazon Echo, to get a real feel for what other families’ home lives are really like. We would probably discover we are more alike than we realize but that we have distinct differences. We might even feel relieved and proud of our own families!
Portraying a Negative Self-Image
Carrie Miller, Olathe mother of three, comments that moms need to break the habit of saying negative comments about their bodies or appearance in front of their kids, especially daughters. There’s wise advice. After all, more is caught than taught. Our children are paying attention constantly. They notice our behavior cues and how we talk about ourselves and others. Most parents want to teach their children kindness, especially in this day and age. Kindness needs to start with ourselves.
My husband and I recently celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and I wanted a new swimsuit to take on our trip. I purposely took my 7-year-old daughter with me to try on swimsuits to make sure I was more body positive in front of her, as well as for my own self-image. I made every effort to say things like something didn’t fit to my liking, I needed a different size, and I liked the way one bottom fit but not the way the top did. Let’s be honest, trying on swimsuits is not any mother of three’s favorite activity, so my ending words to my daughter were, “Can you encourage Mommy to eat more fruits and vegetables?”
Lightening Your Load
Carrie Leibold, former Overland Park resident and mother of two, suggests moms need to break the habit of doing things for their children that they are capable of doing themselves. I am just becoming aware of how capable my children are or could be as I’m moving past the baby stages. For so long, ours has been a mom-led ship: I get everyone up, dressed, fed, bathed, etc., but I’m realizing my kids can help without it being more work for me in the long run. So instead of being overwhelmed by dozens of quick household chores, I can have my family can complete them. As John Heywood wisely stated, “Many hands make for light work.” My kids can switch over laundry and put their clothes away! My kids can unload the laundry and help with the dishwasher! My kids can feed the dog! Lightening your load in any capacity helps you get more ahead in your day and gives your children a sense of responsibility and pride in their home.
Oftentimes, we moms feel as though we need to be able to do everything on our own. Maybe we essentially can, but we’re exhausted and overwhelmed. Asking for help when we need it is both beneficial and necessary. You are not just a mom, you are a woman with interests and hobbies too. If you’re feeling burned out, take a break. Other jobs take breaks, so take a break to read, exercise, call a friend or crochet. Extended family, friends and neighbors are other great resources to help make our lives run a bit more smoothly. It takes a village, after all.
A habit many moms think we should break is using Pinterest—or at least feeling inadequate from using Pinterest. “Pinterest is the world’s catalog of ideas. Our mission is to help people discover the things they love, and inspire them to go do those things in their daily lives,” says Pinterest.com. This site is for dreaming, not for unending absorption of unattainable pins that lead us into a devilish comparison trap. However, as with all things technology and social media, knowing Pinterest’s helpful value to you personally and setting up boundaries when necessary may be the best approach. “Although Pinterest can be useful, in general, I think it's just a repository for mom guilt, so I avoid it as much as possible,“ Robin Van Haste, Overland Park mother of two, says. Change your settings, notification alerts or set time limits for yourself. If you’re burdened by feeling inadequate or stepping into that comparison trap we mentioned above, take a break and refocus on why you’re looking on Pinterest in the first place.
Let’s make #authenticmotherhood a movement. Let’s encourage each other and ourselves—but without trying to outdo other moms. Post a real-life picture without filters or cleaning up that one spot real quick that’s “ruining” the picture. Real life is messy. Kids and families are messy. No one has it all under control; some are just better at disguising it. I love the “Mom Crush” video by Selah that shows this exact thought. We need to stop comparing our mess with someone else’s best. If you want authentic and honest friendships, you need to step up and be authentic first. It’s freeing to be able to be yourself and not feel like you must pretend to have it all together. Seek your tribe by “dating” different moms groups to find friends you can be honest with. They are out there; you just need to find them.
At the end of the day, remember why you wanted to be a mom in the first place and what you envisioned and hoped for your youngster’s childhood to be like. Chase after your goals and high-five the rest of us chasing ours.
Stephanie Loux is the mother of Layla, 7, Mason, 5, and Slade, 2, and writes from her home. You can check out more of her writing at LettersFromTheLouxs.blogspot.com.