By Lindsay Hameroff
Comparing ourselves to others is a recipe for unhappiness, even if you are the best mom in the world. And let’s face it…you aren’t even in the running. Try these six strategies to curb feelings of inadequacy before #momguilt takes over your life.
1. Identify and Avoid Triggers. Social media can be toxic to our self-esteem and make us feel like we don’t measure up as a parent. Stave off insecurity by reducing the time you spend scrolling and remembering that Instagram is nothing more than curated moments. Then unfollow your friend Melissa, who just posted photos of herself in a string bikini less than a month after giving birth.
2. Create a Mantra. Ok, so you can’t unfollow Melissa because she’s invited you over for dinner again, and also, she was a bridesmaid at your wedding. Still, you’ll need a calming strategy when you see her kids happily eating her homemade ratatouille, while your offspring spew half-eaten chunks of pepper across the table and scream for Pop Tarts. Try repeating a mantra that resonates with you, such as “Aim for Progress, Not Perfection,” or “Picasso Only Ate Six Foods, and He Turned Out Great.”
3. Focus on Building Connections. Ah, who are we kidding? Mantras only work if you believe in them. But the next time you stress about not engaging with your kids as much as Melissa does (seriously though, how does she have the energy to go on a ten-mile family bike ride every weekend?), remember that there are other ways — such as gathering on the sofa to watch kids unbox toys on YouTube — to help your children feel a family connection.
4. Stay True to Your Values. Establishing what values matter most to you can also mitigate feelings of self-doubt. For example, Melissa values being involved in her kids’ school and attending PTA meetings every Monday evening. You value skipping PTA meetings to watch The Bachelor, getting drunk on boxed wine, and tweeting at Chris Harrison to ask if he’s received your numerous applications to join the cast. Your values aren’t wrong, they’re just different!
5. Remember That Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness. Speaking of values, give yourself props for raising children who won’t grow up spoiled. Sure, Melissa’s new $6,000 swing set comes with three slides, a 10-foot climbing wall, and a treehouse-dwelling nanny who can potty-train children in less than a week, but when your daughter ends the playdate by screaming, “Please don’t make me go home, I hate our house!” remember that expensive toys don’t necessarily equal joy. Your children will be just as happy playing with the pile of discarded Amazon boxes you use as outdoor play equipment.
6. Forgive Yourself. If you are struggling with mom-xiety, or even regretting your decision to have kids in the first place, practice a little self-compassion. Sure, you may occasionally forget to pick your children up from school, especially when you’ve had a couple of White Claws with lunch, but hey, you’re doing the best you can, and that’s what matters! And besides, that’s why you’ve listed Melissa as your emergency contact.
About the Author
Lindsay Hameroff is a writer and humorist who lives in Harrisburg, PA with her husband and two kids. Her work has been published in Little Old Lady Comedy, Slackjaw, Points in Case, Daily Drunk Mag, and more. She also edits Frazzled, a parenting humor blog on Medium. In her spare time, she reads, cooks, and/or fantasizes about making brisket for Harry Styles. Find her on Twitter @LindsayHameroff