Surviving Mommy-Life in a Media Culture
Can I just preface this post by saying…being a mommy in this day and age is exhausting? Isn’t it enough to have the “helpful” hints from those we love (family, close friends)? Why do we torture ourselves with hours and hours spent on social media comparing our home life to the home life we see captured in glossy photos and posted with hashtag perfection on our Facebook pages, Instagram feeds and Snapchat videos.
I swear, if I have to look at one more adorable baby frolicking happily in a farmhouse sink, surrounded by bubbles and rose petals I will lose my mind. Bath time at my house is a squealing, chaotic affair. By the time everyone is dried and dressed in pajamas my daughter has probably peed on the floor, done a few laps around the kitchen butt naked, I’ve sung ‘Old McDonald’ so many times I envision the slaughter of everyone on that stupid farm and puddles of water are waiting to be soaked up off the bathroom floor. According to social media stars everywhere…not a post worthy moment.
Pinterest (my favorite online time waster), says there are 100s of different ways I am hastening the death of my child and 100s more ways I can improve quality of life in my home; home-made cleaning products, home-made/organic baby food, baby yoga, creating a habit of quiet time, how to be a positive parent, tips to boost my toddler’s speech…I mean, it’s endless. Now, I’m not saying these things are bad. No, some of the tips and tricks found on Pinterest are helpful and definitely worth reading and implementing. My problem is the constant bombardment of ways to improve yourself, your home, your marriage, your child. When is the last time you opened a blog post and instead of being told how to do it better it simply read, “what you’re doing is enough.” Did you hear me?
What your doing is enough.
Enough. Do moms even know what that word means anymore? (Besides using it to threaten your children with impending punishment should they continue to make terrible life choices.) But do we know what it is to end a day, exhausted, and instead of thinking back on all the things we could have done better or differently we sigh and think with satisfaction, “Ah, what I did was enough.” There is always someone we see doing it better, causing us to stop in our tracks and berate ourselves for the mistakes we are making.
There is no doubt women were made for community. This community of moms we build around us encourages us, challenges us and helps us find answers when we’ve exhausted all other resources. But what happens when your community is too big? When there are too many opinions vying for your attention? This is the problem moms now face. Our ‘community’ includes our immediate family, close friends but also Facebook, Instagram, blogs we follow and so much more. There are now so many voices we feel pressure to meet expectations to do things just-so put on us by complete strangers!
This is not a self-help post, or a promise that if you do this and this you’ll receive the outcome you’d like. This is a reminder to take care of yourself. To spend a little time loving yourself so you are better able to pour into your family and friends; to turn off the comparison and remind yourself that what you are doing is enough.
How to Survive
If you’ve heard this advice before raise your hand. Now, put your hands down and acknowledge that even though we’ve heard this advice a time or two we are reluctant to follow it. Or, if we do follow it, it’s short lived. How are we supposed to ‘unplug’ in a media driven society? Don’t let your phone be the first thing you grab in the morning. Mamas, there are too many important things vying for our attention. Let’s not start the day logging on to our phones and setting ourselves up for disappointment.
WHAT WORKS FOR ME: Schedule a time to check email, Facebook…etc. I schedule a couple of times a day so I can stay on top of things. I try to make these scheduled times when my daughter is sleeping and most days this works well. Some days I have to take a few minutes while she’s busy building or playing dolls but I monitor my time and try to stick to the schedule. As a result I don’t find myself having waisted 2-3 hours leading my heart to envy.
2. Do something for you each day.
I’m not talking about hours and hours dedicated to your hobby or forsaking all else to pursue some down time. What I am talking about is finding even just a half hour of time that is only yours. Work out. Draw. Read. Cook. Catch a butterfly. I don’t care just close your door, get out of the house, leave the kids with a sitter and get some sanity and perspective. Time to yourself helps you refresh and energize. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t wonder if you should be doing something different or about the hundreds of things that are waiting for you back at home.
WHAT WORKS FOR ME: I am fortunate, my daughter goes to bed early each night (thank the Lord she is not a night owl!) so I’m able to set aside a couple hours each evening to myself. I usually work out and then I’ll read or sew. Sometimes I’ll sit on the couch and do nothing productive (unless you consider binging on Netflix productive). No matter what I’m doing, I’m not working. I’ve turned off my computer for the day. I don’t check my messages or email. I use this time to unwind which means I’m going to bed having enjoyed my day instead of comparing it to my friends on social media.
3. Write yourself a permission slip.
I read this in a book not long ago and I love the idea behind it. We always an ideal way we want to live life but (I don’t think anyone will be surprised here) life does not always adhere to our ideals. When those moments reveal themselves and we’re frantically trying to adjust plans or goals, it’s nice to know we’ve given ourselves permission to slough off, to save our sanity of course.
WHAT WORKS FOR ME: I’m a busy mama. I balance things I love with jobs I have going on, caring for my home, raising my daughter etc. I love cooking and pride myself on having a warm, healthy meal for my family to enjoy each evening. Sometimes meetings run late, my daughter is a crab, life just gets in the way so one of the permission slips I have laying around the house says “I give Emily permission to feed her daughter microwave Mac and Cheese for dinner.” I actually write it out. I’m a visual person and I need the reminder. When I give myself permission slips I don’t follow them up with hours spent reading blogs on the dangers of processed foods or the importance of getting your child to eat vegetables. I receive the permission slip, serve the mac and cheese and just let it be.
Ladies, what this long-winded post boils down to is this, you are a good mom. You don’t need to keep trying to find ways to do it better or keep checking in on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat to see how you can “keep up with the Jones’” If your child is safe and loved…you are doing enough. So, take this advice with a grain of salt and realize these are ways I keep my sanity. They might work for you or they might inspire you to find something that does. Bottom line, stop pressuring yourself to be better and instead enjoy each day as it comes. More importantly, crawl exhausted into bed each night and reward yourself with a smile and this thought, “you are enough.”
How do you survive Mommy-Life? Do you have any tips for not living under the pressure to perform? Let me know in the comments below!! I’ve also included a free printable so you too can have your own permission slips for mommy break days 🙂
(click to print)