Children don’t come with instructions—I wish they did! There is no one-fits-all handbook on the best way to parent, which is why you’ll hear the advice from experienced moms to “trust your own instincts.” Moms (and dads) have to make decisions about their children every day, and often they question those decisions, wondering whether they made the best choices.
The stress associated with this huge responsibility can be overwhelming at times! The result is that moms feel they have to justify their parenting choices to anyone who questions them.
Why do Moms compare?
When a mom convinces herself that her way is the right or best way, she can then enter competitive territory where she may judge others for their parenting style and their lifestyle choices. Even if you’re not judging another mom in a negative way, you still may find yourself comparing. This happens when we squeeze ourselves into a type of mom category . . . stay-at-home mom, working mom, breastfeeding mom, to name a few. Oh and let’s not forget alpha mom, granola mom, helicopter mom, tiger mom, free-range mom. . . there are so many labels women have put on themselves, it’s no wonder some of us are feeling overwhelmed!
So what happens when we begin to look at other moms around us, either in our family circle, among friends, or even strangers? It’s human nature to want to fit in somewhere, whether it’s the mainstream norm or another particular group.
When views and choices don’t fit that norm, some women are left feeling discouraged and subpar. How can I measure up to what other moms are doing? Wow, that mom is grocery shopping with her baby in high heels! How does she have time to do her nails and makeup?! “She looks so good!”
You may be scratching your head wondering how that mom managed to lose all of her baby weight in a month while you’re still struggling seven months later. You may see a mom who seems to be super organized and looks put together; you may then feel worse about yourself because your hair is in a mom bun, you have no makeup on, and you’re still wearing your maternity jeans.
Comparing to moms online
Even online, when you scroll through Facebook or Instagram, you might see other moms who seem to have it all together. Most of the time, social media shows just a snapshot (which is likely staged) of their life. Every day, we see images and read stories that leave us feeling as if every parent is doing it better than we are. If social media is making you feel less confident, stop scrolling.
How to stop comparing yourself to other moms.
You need to ignore how other moms are doing it and focus on what works for YOU. Those picture-perfect moments you see on social media are not reality; they are just an image of a single moment, a carefully-designed instant. Stop yourself from feeling inadequate by comparing your behind-the-scene chaos to someone’s on-camera feature. If you can remember that behind every seemingly ideal photo is a mom who feels just like you do, you’ll be much better off.
Alternatively, if social media, magazine or images you see in media are causing you unnecessary stress and negative emotions, stop scrolling. Unfollow, unfriend, turn off the TV – remove yourself from the things that are triggering anything that makes you feel bad about yourself. You have the remote control in your hands, so don’t be afraid to use it to shut out things that don’t serve you.
Change your inner dialogue
We all have moments of low self-esteem or insecurity—it’s completely normal. But we can change that inner dialogue to tell ourselves that we ARE good enough. When looking at other moms, it’s important to keep things in perspective and be inspired by differences. Instead of beating yourself up, be grateful for what you have and can do. While you may not be able to do X as well as another mom, you shine at Y! Focus on the positive things that you can do and offer to your children/family. Sometimes that means giving yourself a pep talk, just as you would to a friend. Even simply telling yourself out loud, “you’re a good mother” can be enough to make you feel better.
Be confident in your way of parenting.
When you become a mother, you don’t become the mother of all children. You don’t suddenly become the ideal of what a mother should be according to everyone else’s standards. You become the mother of your own children, in the manner of your choosing.
Be secure in your own parenting decisions rather than look elsewhere for approval. Trusting your own instincts may come naturally for some but take practice for others on their parenting journey. When we feel good about our own decisions, we feel less of a need to justify our actions.
No one can parent your child the way you can, and no mother can do a better job raising your kids than YOU. Just as you automatically loved your baby as soon as you learned you were carrying him/her, your child loves you too wholeheartedly and unconditionally. YOU are and will always be the best mom for your children.