We can end up feeling like a parenting failure when we fall short of the pressures we feel. Moms, here’s why you need to be kind to yourself.
With so much focus on parenting these days, it’s easy to feel like you failed.
You might harbor feelings you’re too scared or feel guilty to admit, or feel frustrated when things don’t go as planned or expected. When, despite your best efforts, kids still misbehave or can’t sleep through the night.
The house is a mess. Work is hard. You have no breaks. You might even wonder if you’re cut out for this motherhood business. The fear of failure is real.
Other times, you assume you should’ve known better or done something different when you get angry at the kids. It doesn’t help when things don’t seem to get better or that others are placing judgment on you.
You feel so much self-criticism and anxiety, but most of it comes from those you give yourself.
4 reasons to be kind to yourself
I hear you, mama.
With so many responsibilities and not a whole lot of guidance, motherhood can feel like a mirror to all our faults. When our inner critic sounds louder by the day.
But I want to remind you to be kind to yourself, both on good days and bad. You likely put too much blame on your shoulders and are drowning in negative self-talk. It’s time to reverse that and give yourself the appreciation and self-kindness you’d want your kids to give to others.
Need a few reasons and insights to be kind to yourself? Here are some words of encouragement:
1. No one is perfect
No one will implement all the parenting tips they’ve ever heard, every day, forever. We’re going to mess up—I know I have, and will continue to.
As much as we try to do our best, there will be days when we’ll slip, despite our best intentions. You might yell at your kids right after reading an article on how to not yell at them. You can still feel stressed about your family finances even though you thought you got a handle on it.
It’s impossible to maintain perfect parenting when we’re human and vulnerable. Don’t think of your flaws and mistakes as reasons you’ve failed, but as clues about what you still need to learn.
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“Wow, I really needed to hear that this morning. I’m a single mom and it can be so hard at times and I honestly don’t know how I do it, but I know that my girls need me and I have to fight for them and remember that I can do it! I truly appreciate you! Thank you so much!” -Kimberly Maner
2. Kids need to see realistic expectations
We stress out trying to be a perfect mom when doing just that paints an unrealistic picture for our kids. After all, we need to model realistic expectations of what being a mom is. Stressing out doesn’t help anyone.
As I say in my book, You Are Enough:
“I’ve learned how quickly a hassle can escalate into the rest of your day, how tough it is to turn a bad day around. That’s why it’s so important to be more carefree about these hassles.
Because they’re just that—hassles. Another five minutes out of your day, another task to add to your to-do list. But at least that’s it, and they’re gone the next day, if not sooner.”
Kids need to see a healthy and well-rounded mom, not one too hard on herself. Besides, caring for kids gets more difficult when we feel stressed ourselves. Allow yourself the breaks you deserve, if even just for your kids.
3. You may be going through a challenge
I had to cut myself a lot of slack during the last few weeks of my twin pregnancy. I struggled with the weight of the pregnancy and all its ensuing complications. Then I felt guilty for not being the patient mom my three-year-old needed me to be.
But in hindsight, I realized that it was a temporary challenge. A part of my daily life that was extra hard at the moment, but would ease up in a few weeks or months.
You might be going through something difficult at this moment that could be preventing you from being your best self. Maybe one of the kids is sick, you’re remodeling the bathroom, or you’ve lost your job. No matter the obstacle—big or small—these can pose temporary challenges to being a god mom.
Whatever obstacles you may be facing, remind yourself that this is a season in your life. And like all seasons, they’ll come and go over time.
4. You owe it to yourself
We have a lot on our plates. Imagine how your family would function if you took a sudden and extended break for a month. Where you couldn’t plan ahead for your absence—you just had to leave for several weeks. Not a pretty picture, right?
That’s because we do a lot of things at home. We pack morning lunches and do school pick-ups. We rock our babies to sleep for each nap and schedule activities for the week. And we plan our weekly meals, shop for the items, and pay all the bills every month.
I’m sure you can add a lot more accomplishments to that list of things you do for your family. When you feel down on yourself, remember how much you already do in your day-to-day life.
How to be kind to yourself
So, how can we treat ourselves with more kindness and create a daily habit? Here are some positive ways to do so:
- Protect your personal time. When was the last time you were alone doing something you enjoy? This isn’t a shallow call for more “me” time. Focus on self-care practices even if it means saying “no” to family, work, or school obligations. They may function with you feeling stressed in the short-term, but long-term, no one feels good if you’re running empty.
- Don’t dwell on your mistakes. We blame ourselves so much and dwell on past mistakes. Instead, learn from what happened. Use whatever you’re feeling guilty about as tell-tale signs of what you need to fix. It’s not enough to feel guilty—use it to correct weak areas in your life.
- Find support. It’s easy to fall into a depression when you feel like you’re alone. It’s a stigma I wish we could get rid of. That no one else feels the frustration, sadness or pressure you feel. Find a good support system, whether through your mom friends, your partner, or online groups. You’ll lift the weight off your shoulders knowing you’re not carrying it on your own.
Being kind to yourself isn’t a cop out. It’s not a call for moms to just up and desert their role as mothers in the name of giving ourselves some slack.
But we need to practice self-compassion first, over anyone else who might be taking that place right now. Our partners and children need moms who prioritize themselves. Only then can we function and be present for others.
And most of all, we need this kindness in our lives. Show yourself the love and warmth you’ve been giving to others around you.
You more than deserve it.
Get more tips:
- Top Parenting Books All Moms and Dads Should Read
- One Technique to Finally Stop Yelling at Your Kids
- 7 Positive Parenting Skills All Moms Need to Have
- On Rediscovering Yourself After Motherhood
- How to Make Time for Yourself (Even If You Have Kids!)
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