Moms have it rough. We’re constantly trying to be everything, to everyone. We’re trying to prove ourselves by giving 100% at work, 100% to our friendships, 100% to our partnerships, and 100% to our kids.
While I might not be the best at math, I DO know that we can’t give 100% of ourselves to everything in our lives and expect to have anything left for ourselves. We have set an impossible standard. And it’s ruining our mental health.
The Mom Stress is Real
Moms are stressed out. If you’re a mom, that is probably not news to you, but research proves it, too. In her recent study, sociologist Caitlyn Collins spent five years studying motherhood in four wealthy nations. Through her research, Collins found that American moms are drowning in stress more than the rest – especially working mothers.
Why? It all comes down to cultural expectations.
While some countries offer childcare assistance, paid maternity and paternity leave, free preschool, and various other services to help working moms, the U.S. doesn’t have such a stellar record. In fact, moms in America still face an impossible task: balancing a paid career and motherhood.
For many moms, our days go something like this:
6:00 AM - Wake up. Slather on some makeup because Lord knows I can’t go to the office without eyeliner and some concealer. Feel guilty that you didn’t get to the gym yesterday.
6:45 AM - Pack lunch for the kids. Cut the sandwiches into fun shapes, remove the peel from the apples, and write a little note on the napkin. Because, you know, failing to do any of these things will irreparably harm our child’s mental health.
7:00 AM - Wake up the kids (and then wake them up again, and again, until they get out of bed and begrudgingly get dressed). Make them a healthy breakfast, and then watch them eat only ¼ a piece of toast instead.
7:45 AM - School drop-off. One kid has a tummy ache, but you have a big meeting at work and really can’t take the day off. Feel guilty about leaving her.
8:30 AM - Arrive at the office late because you forgot to send an email to your child’s teacher about the conference you need to reschedule. Feel guilty about walking into the office after everyone else.
9:00 – 5:00 - Work hard, trying to prove that you’re every bit as capable and professional as your male counterparts, even though they often downplay your ideas. (Side note: this does not happen at WodBottom’s offices. The advantages of working with a whole group of strong women!)
Feel guilty about missing your youngest kid’s awards lunch. Also, feel guilty that your kids are in after-school care.
5:00 PM - Leave work to pick up your kids, even though a few of your colleagues are still there finishing up a project. Feel guilty for leaving your co-workers.
6:30-8:30 PM - Attempt to help with homework, feed your family something relatively edible and nutritious, and have meaningful conversations with each child.
8:30-10:00 PM - Watch some mindless television with your significant other. Feel guilty about falling asleep before the credits.
Letting Go of Mom Stress
Does that timeline sound familiar? Notice two things happening in the scenario above:
- There’s a whole lotta’ guilt, even though you’re doing your very best, everywhere, at all times.
- You never get time for yourself.
We’re running ourselves into the ground by trying to do it all. If you aren’t taking time out to rest and recharge, you will eventually burn out.
Here’s the thing ladies: we can’t perfectly juggle it all. It’s impossible. Society tells us we’re supposed to balance everything: work, home, friendships, health, parenting, relationships. And if we don’t, we have failed.
I want you to hear me on this one: that’s a lie. The truth is that you don’t have to balance it all. Sometimes, you’ll drop the ball at work. Sometimes, you’ll drop the ball with your kids. That is 100% okay. At some point, you need to stop juggling and take a moment to rest.
If you keep burning the candle on both ends, you’ll eventually run out of wick. So this week, set aside time to take care of the most important person in your life: yourself. Show yourself the same love and loyalty that you show to everyone else. Even if it’s just one hour, once a week, to let yourself recharge (I’m a big fan of Wednesday night bath night, should you need an idea!)
YOU are amazing, my friend. Don’t let that Mom Stress tell you otherwise.