When I think back to the days my daughter was a baby, I’m filled with a lot of emotions. What I expected to be a time of joy, love, and fulfillment wasn’t reality. Instead, the first year was riddled with puke, doctor’s appointments, and a troubled marriage. My life had turned into a major disaster.
You see, as a first-time mom, I was surprised by the overwhelming responsibilities that come with a high needs baby who was never happy. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only mother who felt that way!
I won’t bore you with the details, but things were rough! At some point though, after figuring out the baby had some severe intolerances, I regained some sanity and began to see things a little more clearly. But there was still a bit of trouble at home.
This is a guest post written by my friend J. Ivy Boyter who blogs at Sahm Plus. See below for her bio!
One day, my husband came home to complain about my housekeeping skills again. “If you can’t bother to notice what I did do today, you’re not allowed to complain about what I didn’t do!” I’d had enough. I had spent my daughter’s entire nap time cleaning the bathroom … top to bottom. That included the rare instance I wiped the baseboards. And I would have preferred to catch up on some much-needed rest! And what was my reward? Being harassed about the dishes in the sink.
As a parent of two, I recognize, all too well, just how often people have unrealistic expectations of moms. But, my outburst opened my husband’s eyes as he came to a similar realization. And, I’ve come to understand that we, as moms, have a tendency to place unrealistic expectations on ourselves to be super moms.
Moms are expected to do so many things.
Expectations to Be Super Moms
The expectation for us to be super moms doesn’t just come from others. We also hold ourselves to some really tough-to-meet standards.
Chase after a toddler while you’re doing chores.
You’ve got a fitted sheet 1/4 folded when you have to drop it to pull your toddlers hands out of the toilet. You might even have to plunge the toy out while you’re at it. Tack on cleaning hands and said toy before getting back to the sheets.
If you can get the baby to sleep while baby wearing and cooking, you’re golden. But, if you’ve got to feed snacks to a screaming baby in an activity seat, you’re not giving either activity 100% focus.
Coordinate all schedules.
If at all possible, you have to coordinate the entire family’s schedules hoping you don’t schedule something that conflicts with someone else’s plans. Of course, you’re putting any of your needs or desires on the back burner until everyone else has scheduled their stuff. And then what happens? You go months without getting your stuff done.
If you have two, or more, children, you know how often one needs you at the same exact time something is happening with the other. Again, you can’t ever really focus on one kid at a time. And you can’t give any task 100% of your attention. It feels like you always have more than one thing needing to be done at the same time.
Meal time madness
Moms get to eat cold food most of the time. Meal times consist of getting everyone’s plates ready, then sitting down to be at the mercy of their children. You know 2 seconds after you sit down, one is going to say “I need more juice.” Or, the baby’s beginning to throw food or demand more of the food he did like. And, you might have gotten to eat a bite or two of your food at this point. If you haven’t learned to eat like you’re in prison, shoveling food down quickly, you might not get to eat before the youngest is ready to get down to play.
Make sure your children are socialized
On top of the needs around the house, you’re compelled to have your children in social activities or team sports. It doesn’t matter that your kids are in school all day … they need more, right? And there’s an unrealistic expectation that we put each kid in more than 1 activity at a time, lest we feel we’re not giving our kids enough growth opportunities.
How to Lessen the Burden of the Super Mom Ideal
From keeping house to organizing everyone’s schedules, I now completely understand that mom brain is a byproduct of having too much on our plates. It’s really difficult to get it all done and remember everything. When you’re not working your time management skills as a parent, the burden of being a super mom is more difficult.
Lower Your Own Expectations
This is especially important when you have a young baby at home! When you’re exhausted after waking up throughout the night, busting hump to clean the house top to bottom while caring for a baby isn’t easy. It’s okay to let go of the expectation to have a perfectly clean home at all times. When your toddler will destroy the playroom in 30 seconds, why bother cleaning it during the day? It’s okay to wait until the end of the day before he goes to bed. Or, if he’s still not helping clean, wait until after he’s in bed for the night.
Discuss the Expectations with Your Partner
Each of you need to be clear about your expectations of each other. You both incur extra responsibilities as parents, not just the mom! If at all possible, have your partner help with breakfast or take care of the family pet in the morning. Share responsibility for putting the kids to bed at night. Taking turns putting the kids to bed is also good for the kids and gives each person a little extra time for either completing smaller chores or practicing some quick self-care.
Take Some Time Off
It’s okay to schedule some time away. You’re putting in long hours with kids and you deserve some time to relax and recharge. Even if it’s only 30 minutes a night, schedule time for yourself.
It’s so easy to overlook tasks or forget appointments, especially when you’re caring for more than one child. Ensure that you can remember more by scheduling everything from meal planning, housekeeping chores, and activities on a shared family calendar. Your partner should be expected to share his events on this calendar so everyone is on the same page.
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Don’t forget that positive affirmations will go far. Remind yourself that you are a good mom whenever you’re feeling uncertain. Being a super mom isn’t about trying to meet unrealistic expectations. Instead, focus on getting things done when necessary while giving yourself the time to be there for your children. And, you can’t do either very efficiently if you’re not tending to your own needs at some point too!
If you like these tips, I welcome you to download my eBook “How to Conquer Your Family’s Schedule: A Stay at Home Mom’s Guide to (Almost) Getting it All Done.” In the book, I go into more detail and share all the ways I’ve learned to be the boss of our family schedule while raising two children.
About the Author: Ivy is a married stay at home mom of two children, ages 5 yrs and 1.5 yr. In addition to running the house and caring for her family, she runs a successful blog at SAHM, plus… and wrote her book “How to Conquer Your Family’s Schedule.” In her spare time she enjoys Autocross racing with her husband.