- Put the Phone Down
Moms in particular are being attacked from every angle. Pinterest demands homemade organic elderberry for your kids’ immune systems. Instagram showboats the mom of 6 with firm skin that somehow still finds time for spin class. Facebook scorns you for vaccinating your children. Twitter accuses you of sexism for not allowing your son to play with dolls. Although sometimes helpful, these social media platforms are typically the largest source of stress in young mothers. The anxiety that you’re going to mess up and do the “wrong” thing with your child is severely overpowering the joys of being a parent.
Studies have shown that mothers that spend more time on social media comparing themselves to other parents have higher levels of depression. In these instances, it is vital to remember that social media websites can represent you however you wish to be perceived. Constant comparison of yourself to other moms can lead to harsh self-judgement and low levels of confidence as a parent. It’s hard to be a good mom when you aren’t confident in your abilities, thus in your journey to be the perfect parent, you are achieving the opposite. Put down your phone, stay off social media, and go with your gut. Maternal instinct is a real phenomenon. Have faith in yours and know that it’s okay if yours differs from your friends’ on Facebook.
- Live for the Moment, not the Picture of the Moment
Avoid getting caught up in the trap of capturing our children’s happiness purely for displaying it to the social world. Before smart phones and Instagram, memories were captured purely for the capturer. The pictures were printed, put in an album, and then only viewed by a select, intimate audience after that. Picturing taking has become less about the intimacy and more about the viewers. Because of this, we tend to spend much of our time with our kids trying to get the “perfect pictures” to post on social media to prove to the rest of the world that our kids (and our lives) are blissful. We justify this by telling ourselves that we just like seeing our kids happy, when really, we like the social media world seeing our kids happy. Giving in to the stress of convincing the world (and ourselves) that we are Supermom actually leads us to not being a very good parent. Spending an entire birthday party behind an iPhone to show Facebook how great it was and how loved your child is ultimately prevents you from sharing in your child’s joy on their special day. In the desire to appear like a doting parent, you are causing stress by viewing parenting as a chore. Forget about your Instagram account and how many people would like to see Johnny blowing out the candles on his homemade dairy-free three-tier cake. Engage in the moment and be present. It’s amazing how many things we don’t notice that we missed until it’s over.
- Know Your Kid
It’s okay that your kids don’t play a musical instrument. They will be fine if you don’t read to them for at least 30 minutes every day. And if you cave and give them frozen pizza with no accompanying fruit or vegetable for dinner, they will survive. Being in tune with your child’s likes and dislikes will reduce stress in both of you, as you are better equipped to help them hone in on their interests. Attempting to engage your kids in something that you think they should be interested in will only be painful for both of you. Your stress level will continue to climb if they resist, and your child will also experience anxiety as they pick up that they aren’t making you happy. Of course, continue to encourage your child to branch out and try new things. Just don’t stress out if little Hannah doesn’t have an organic-only pallet, or if Joseph doesn’t want to practice the alphabet again. Children develop at different rates, and that includes their personalities. Grow with your child as they learn who they are- not who you think they should be. Remember that being constantly stressed makes it difficult to connect with your child and prevents you from embracing who they are as individuals.
- Don’t Overload Your Schedule
This is a tough one, but sometimes you just have to say: “No.” There is so much pressure to be involved in as much as possible: dance class on Mondays, flute on Friday, soccer practice on Wednesday and cub scouts on Saturday. The stress to be active and on time to these events can be overwhelming to say the least. It’s not just the kids’ schedules, either. You’re expected to be assistant coach, or participate in the PTA, or volunteer for room mom, or help with fundraisers. In an effort to be Supermom, you are experiencing so much stress that there is no joy in your parenting. Getting your children to their classes on time becomes a burden, and by this point you’re so exhausted that you don’t even watch to see if it brings them pleasure. You become so focused on baking 26 perfectly iced and sprinkled cake pops for the Christmas party that you both lose the enjoyment behind the moment and miss out on creating holiday memories with your own child. It is perfectly fine, admirable even, to tell someone that you can’t help this time. It’s even more okay to limit your child’s extra-curricular activities by making them choose only one. Spreading yourself thin by trying to have your child involved in everything defeats the purpose of enrolling them- to have FUN. It’s not fun when mom is irritable the entire way due to lack of sleep.
The biggest take away is this- do not let social media parent you on how to be a parent. Let your pediatrician, trusted mentors, and your own conscience be your sources when you are seeking parental advice. Use the Internet more as guidelines than the final ruling. Eliminating stressful situations from your life will automatically enable you to be a better mom and demonstrate a healthy mindfulness for your children to emulate. Quit listening to your Facebook groups and start listening to your child. You will never completely get rid of anxiety when it comes to your kids but controlling unnecessary triggers of stress will make motherhood enjoyable for your entire family.