7 Reasons You’re Not Enjoying Motherhood

Finding yourself not enjoying motherhood? Discover 7 reasons you might feel down about being a mom and how to turn things around.

Not Enjoying Motherhood

“I want my old life back,” I blurted to my husband in the middle of the night.

I felt shocked—then ashamed—to admit it. It had been a few weeks since bringing our son home and I found myself exhausted yet again with a wailing baby in my arms. I blamed it on the sleep deprivation but still felt horrible for not enjoying motherhood the way I thought I would. 

Since then, I’ve learned that the reasons we don’t enjoy motherhood stem deeper than what we often complain about. When you dig deep, you’ll find that it’s not just about the kids, an exhausting day, or a fussy stage. Check out the real reasons you’re not enjoying motherhood and, more importantly, how to turn things around. As these parents said about the article:

“Awesome advice for a new mum who’s actually struggling to enjoy motherhood. I’m amazed on how you nailed the feelings I have almost every day and the explanations you give to overcome them. Thank you so much.”
“This was refreshing to read and just what I needed. Every part of it hits home. I’m going to print it out and have it in a nice easy to access place for the hard parenting times. Thank you!”
“This is EXACTLY what I needed. This challenge, these words. I am over the moon that I found this, and trust me I’ve searched online!”
“I loved your article. I was having a rough day and your article really resonated with me.”
“I searched through many headlines to find the exact article I needed to read. This was definitely it. Thank you.”

1. You let one bad moment ruin your day

My son was so excited about his summer camp field trip to the science center. He came dressed in his camp shirt and carried his brown bag lunch, all ready to go.

Except when we got to camp, no one else was wearing the camp shirt. It turned out, we followed an outdated calendar, and that the field trip wasn’t until later in the week.

He was clearly uncomfortable being the only one in the shirt and a brown bag lunch. I was also upset at my own oversight.

So, we went home to fetch a different shirt and lunch. I found myself rushing through traffic, cursing every horrible driver under my breath that kept me one second later. I was a terrible example to my little guy, riled with frustration and impatience.

So much so that, in the middle of that drive, he whispered, “I’m sorry, Mama. Let’s just think of positive things so we can have a good rest of the day.”

It broke my heart.

Here was my son, teaching me to calm down, perhaps even taking the blame. Since then, I learned that just because one “bad” thing happens in your day, you don’t have to let it fester. It’s better to let a bad moment go, no matter how unfair it feels or how much you want to blame everything on it.

Every present moment is a chance to start fresh. You don’t have to rely on what happened to determine how you’re going to move forward.

As I say in my book, You Are Enough:

“Changing your mindset to a more positive one can salvage the rest of the day and actually stop the downward spiral.”

When you’re having a bad parenting day, “erase” what had happened and start over, no matter the time of the day. Don’t wait for the next day for a fresh start. Instead, declare your present moment as a new one, and set good intentions moving forward.

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2. You assume motherhood is always hard

We’ve all accepted that motherhood is hard because there are many reasons it is. Balancing the responsibilities of caring for kids with everything else going on in life is a challenge for nearly every mom.

But I want to challenge you here. Assuming motherhood is always hard means you’re more likely to see only the hardships—and little of everything else.

After all, not every moment of motherhood is difficult. You might find yourself laughing with your kids as you fold laundry, enjoying breakfast together, or swelling with love when they run up to you for a hug.

The key is to uncover more of these moments. Think of yourself as going on a treasure hunt on the lookout for pockets of joy in your day. Train yourself to find the positive, no matter how simple it may be or how difficult your day has been.

This doesn’t mean you ignore the challenges, but you can look at them differently. You might even see them as trying to teach you something or compelling you to take action where you’ve been dragging your feet.

And most importantly, you can choose how to respond to those challenges. Any time you feel the pull of a downward spiral, say: “I want to feel good!” The more you see things in a positive light, the more you can find yourself enjoying motherhood.

3. You’re not fully present

As parents, we’ve taken multitasking to a whole new level. We’re trying to read the next step of a recipe while stopping two kids from fighting over a toy, while the other one is telling you about his day. (Please tell me it’s not just me!)

Even if you’re not doing anything, your mind may be more than making up for it. You’re constantly thinking ahead, from what pajamas to set out for the kids to remembering to buy a present for a friend.

Whether mental or physical, your attention is everywhere, preventing you from enjoying motherhood.

And if you’re like me, you feel guilty—even lazy—if you’re not doing or thinking or planning. But this comes at a high price.

Not being present means you’re missing out on the joy unfurling in front of you. It’s hard to enjoy your child when you’re stressed about skipping an important step in the recipe. You’re also more likely to blame the kids for interrupting what it is you were doing or thinking.

What to do? Plan your time so you’re not doing so much at the same time. This starts by not doing many of the things you’ve been doing so you have fewer obligations vying for your attention.

Then, be more aware of how you feel and behave when you’re with your kids. Focus on the task in front of you, reassuring yourself that it’s not the end of the world if other things don’t get done right now.

This doesn’t mean you need to focus on your child 24/7 and nothing else. She can learn to wait while you finish the recipe, and you should intentionally make time for yourself. The point is, don’t try to do too many things at once and instead be present in whatever you choose to do in the moment.

4. You have a victim mentality

Do you sometimes find yourself venting about motherhood? Maybe it’s about how little the baby sleeps or how much attitude your toddler has been giving. Perhaps it’s the long hours at work that’s doing you in or how little help you get with no relatives around.

As raw as these emotions may be, one key person is missing in the conversation: yourself.

You see, when you’re in victim mentality, it’s easy to point the finger at your circumstances and say, “See? This is why I’m not enjoying motherhood.” But in doing so, you relinquish your power to those circumstances—to other people or situations that, at the end of the day, you have no control over.

Instead, focus on the role you play in the situation.

Be responsible for your own actions (or inaction) and consider what you can do moving forward to turn things around. When you do that, you can reclaim the power you’ve given to others, allowing you to make actual changes instead of waiting for others to do it for you.

This doesn’t mean you blame yourself for everything—we have enough of that going on among moms. Instead, it’s about doing what you can and being responsible for yourself.

5. Your expectations are not lining up with your reality

We’ve all had our expectations squashed by the harsh truth of reality. Maybe life with a newborn wasn’t exactly what you expected, or the family hike you were looking forward to was ruined by an epic tantrum from your toddler.

Anytime your expectations don’t match the eventual reality, you stop enjoying motherhood.

And it’s easy to harp on those moments, isn’t it? We tend to remember our hard days more than our good ones, even inflating them a bit. When expectations and reality don’t line up, we tend to feel miserable about the outcome.

What can you do? Well, what you shouldn’t do is set low expectations. Going on a family hike and expecting it to go terribly can only make that more likely to happen.

Instead, be grateful, even in those challenging moments. Yup, right when you want to throw a pity party is when you need to find something to be grateful for.

Look at the big picture and be grateful your baby is in your life or be grateful that the weather was nice, even if your toddler threw a fit. Gratitude shifts you back to a joyful place where you can stop focusing on what went wrong, and focus instead on what’s going right.

6. You like too much control

Did I ever tell you that time when I planned to have two kids, except that the second kid turned out to be twins? You can imagine how that threw my type-A personality for a loop.

Demanding control over everything is bound to backfire. Kids are notorious for reminding us that we, at the end of the day, don’t control them at all. That the only person we can control is ourselves, as well as how we respond, behave, and think.

Over the years, I’ve learned to let go of controlling the situation, especially over circumstances or people I can’t control. I try to embrace the idea that whatever happens in my life is there to help me grow. Any curve ball thrown my way is exactly where it should be so that I can be a better person.

One of the best ways to realize this is to embrace the mistakes, glitches, and imperfections of motherhood. Stop trying to have things be just so. Sure, plan for it, but also be flexible to respond when things don’t always go according to plan.

7. You take things too seriously

In the moment, your child not wanting to poop in the potty can seem like the worst thing ever, but in hindsight… it’s just poop, right?

We’re not talking about being comedic here, although that might help. Taking yourself too seriously means anything from overthinking to being stiff to not being willing to laugh about things.

The next time she’s being silly about brushing her teeth, be silly along with her. Change your face so it looks warm and loving, not irritated or blank. Shrug the fact that you’re going to be late for the doctor’s appointment—might as well have fun singing to the songs on the radio.

The bottom line

It’s easy to point to the many challenges we face, those that many would agree make motherhood more difficult. We’re sleep-deprived. We have too many things to remember and tasks to do. No relatives live nearby to help. The kids are cranky and crying, and on and on.

But I want to challenge you to think differently about enjoying motherhood. You may not have your old life back, and that’s okay. You just might find yourself enjoying motherhood too much to want it back anyway.

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  1. I searched through many headlines to find the exact article I needed to read. This was definitely it. Thank you.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Thank you, Annie! I’m glad you’re here 🙂

  2. This was refreshing to read and just what I needed. Every part of it hits home. We just had another terrible night of getting our kids to sleep and I feel like this will help in the future so much. I’m going to print it out and have it in a nice easy to access place for the hard parenting times. (Oops just gave myself another job ha).. seriously though thank you!

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Lauren! I’m so glad the article was helpful <3

  3. This is EXACTLY what I needed- this challenge, these words. I am over the moon that I found this, and trust me I’ve searched google!

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Amy! I’m glad you found my site, too 🙂

  4. Keira Adams says:

    Thanks for the wonderful tips.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      I’m so glad you found them helpful, Keira!

  5. Awesome advice for a new mum who’s actually struggling to enjoy motherhood. I’m amazed on how you nailed the feelings I have almost every day and the explanations you give to overcome them. Thank you so much.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Anna, I’m so glad the article resonated with you—thank you for your kind words! And you’re definitely not alone, mama <3

  6. I have a 4 week girl at home (first time mom). I feel so anxious and frustrated… I’ve always wanted to be a mother. And now that I have my baby, all I seem to feel is anxiety and longing for my life before this. Thank you so much for all the articles… Makes me feel less alone and a little less guilty. I do hope things will get better… 🙁 And that, at some point, I start enjoying motherhood and my baby…

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Big hugs, Joana <3 You're definitely not alone, and it's normal to feel the way you do. Things truly will get better—you're in the thick of the newborn stage so it's understandably difficult right now.

  7. Somedays I just feel like a bad mom. I feel frustrated when my boy doesn’t want to eat, I feel like a bad mom if he is sick. I get frustrated if he cries for no reason. Sometimes I feel I just want to put the blanket over my head and hide for the whole day.

    Please help me to be a better mother to my children. To have more patience, to tell myself I’m a good mother. Because I struggle a lot.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      As moms, we often are the first ones we blame when things go wrong with our kids. But however common that may be, it’s also not a healthy or productive way to respond to their behavior. It’s a balance of giving ourselves the forgiveness to acknowledge the mistakes we made. At the same time, we also need to learn from what happened and do better next time.

      We also can’t let mistakes determine who we are as moms, or to allow comparisons or expectations to beat us down further. Instead, dust yourself off when bad things happen and see what you can do differently next time. It’s an ongoing process, one where we won’t ever get it perfect, and that’s okay. We’re constantly learning and improving along the way 🙂

      Hang in there, mama!

  8. Thanks for putting this blog together. I really resonated with this article. I truly believe it’s a mindset and I need to shift it, but just having trouble doing so. I think a lot of that trouble shifting is because I’m a new mom. I feel like I’ve lost my freedom and schedule I liked to be on. It feels very selfish to me and makes me feel worse than I’m more concerned about getting my needs met that my newborns. It’s really difficult getting him to sleep and sometimes stay asleep so I just continually worried he is going to wake up and interrupt what I was doing. Makes me feel terrible I’m even having those thoughts when all my little guy needs is help from me.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Katy, I’m right there with you. As a first-time mom, I struggled with feeling selfish for wanting what I had in my pre-kids life, coupled with the guilt of feeling that way in the first place. It does come as a bit of a shock to suddenly care for someone so dependent and needy, and when it doesn’t let up any time soon, it makes you wonder if it’ll always be this way forever (it won’t, I promise). In a way, it’s better to take care of your needs first and prioritize your happiness, because no baby wants his or her mom to be miserable, that’s for sure.

      Hang in there, mama! I’m optimistic that things will turn around soon.