Parenting is one of the most difficult things we do.
And while many of us enter motherhood with eagerness and excitement, it’s common to find our post-kid selves wondering if we’re up to the task.
Being a mom is hard, no matter how prepared we might be. These little people don’t come with manuals, after all. And it’s not like other life demands slow down when children enter our lives.
We can easily find ourselves stuck in a vortex of comparison, self-judgment, and negativity—sucked into the notion that no level of self-sacrifice will ever help us live up to the impossible standard we—and others—set for motherhood.
But this is clearly not the path to feeling and being our best.
What we need is a good dose of self-compassion.
In this post, you’ll get actionable steps to quiet the comparative, judgy, negative internal chatter that so easily crops up in our lives as moms.
Ready to dive in?
You’re not alone in your struggles—being a mom is hard
In this age of social media, it’s easy to feel as though we’re not measuring up—our days a series of Pinterest fails when it comes to our kids, our homes, and our appearances.
Motherhood can feel a lot like a comparison game. But it’s a contest we can’t win because there’s always someone with a nicer house, seemingly better-behaved children, or whatever other measuring stick we use for our self-worth.
Constant competition is exhausting, and not only that—it threatens to leave us miserable and lonely.
The truth is, we all suffer and we’re all learning.
Life has a habit of throwing us curveballs—some small like chaotic mornings and some big, like global pandemics.
No mama is invincible, and no mamma is perfect.
So, rather than basing our self-worth on being special rather than average: a me versus the world approach—what if we looked at motherhood through the lens of being in this together?
That our struggles are part of a shared human experience rather than a sign of personal failing.
That another mama’s success is our success and that another mother’s failure, is an opportunity to collectively raise each other up rather than bring each other down.
That we’re all worthy of love, beautiful flaws, and all.
Being a mom is hard enough as it. What is the next step you can take to drop out of the comparison game and embrace your common humanity?
Is it reducing time spent on social media? Posting a less than perfect image of yourself or your life? Cheering on another mama who’s embracing her imperfect life?
Or perhaps it’s equipping yourself with a powerful affirmation—one you can repeat during times of hardship—such as “I’m not alone, other moms feel this way.”
Treating yourself with the loving consideration you deserve
We mamas all suffer, fail, and face feeling inadequate at times. These struggles don’t make us weak or undeserving. They make us human.
But we often hold ourselves to a high standard—and an impossible one at that.
This is where self-kindness comes in. It offers an alternative approach—one that involves treating ourselves with the same love and respect we’d give a cherished other.
Self-kindness means offering comfort to ourselves when we struggle rather than doling out self-judgement. And it means acknowledging and addressing our basic physical and emotional needs rather than constantly pushing them aside.
It often is, especially when we default to self-criticism and putting everyone else’s needs before our own.
But there are steps we can take to incorporate self-kindness into our lives. This includes offering ourselves encouraging words and attending to our basic self-care.
For example, when you’re struggling, try giving yourself words of encouragement such as “I’m trying my best” or “I can show myself kindness when I’m feeling tired.”
And next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try pausing and checking in with yourself. Can you identify an unmet basic need such as thirst or hunger? Then address this need with a drink of water or bite to eat.
What next step can you take, mama, to give yourself a much-deserved dose of self-kindness?
Take notice of the dialogue that goes on in your head.
Is it kind? Are there certain situations that trigger negative self-talk?
And can you replace these not-so-friendly words with something more positive such as “I’m worthy of love and respect?” or “Being a mom is hard and I’m doing the best I can.”
It may take work to find words that resonate with you. Once you find phrases you like, practice saying these words out loud or in your head. Post these positive affirmations where you’ll see them throughout the day—such as on a bathroom mirror, in your wallet, or as your cell phone wallpaper.
Being a mom is hard enough as it is—don’t let negativity weigh you down
Negative thoughts and feelings can be bothersome and downright threatening. Especially when they show up in our parenting.
We can easily find ourselves weighted down by a whole bunch of uncomfortable feelings—frustration, sadness, grief, despair, and doubt, to name a few.
And we can face just as many difficult thoughts such as:
- I’m a bad mom.
- Why can’t I do anything right?
- Make it STOP! I can’t keep up.
- I’m not cut out for this.
- What’s wrong with me?
There’s a lot of pressure to be perfect—the kind of mother who not only excels at parenting but also loves every moment of it.
But this just isn’t realistic.
Being a mom is hard. While there are many wonderful moments—and motherhood adds a great deal of meaning to our lives—parenting can be downright tough and tedious.
So, how do we learn to accept rather than bury or be consumed by our struggles?
This is where mindfulness comes in.
How to move past negativity
Mindfulness is the practice of pausing and noticing the present with an attitude of kindness and curiosity rather than with ill-will and judgement.
This isn’t about turning a blind eye to hardship. Rather, mindfulness encourages us to develop a more balanced awareness. This is about giving space to life’s challenges without allowing them to define us.
Mindfulness sits at the heart of self-compassion. Before we can offer ourselves comfort, we must first pause and notice our suffering. Mindfulness helps us put the other two parts of self-compassion—common humanity and self-kindness—to work in our lives.
Like other skills discussed in this post, mindfulness may seem overwhelming at first. And for many, mindfulness can seem particularly intimidating—a practice reserved for a certain kind of person or attainable only after months to years of specialized training.
But mindfulness doesn’t have to take a lot of time and it doesn’t require a specific skill level to be beneficial. Even a couple of slow breaths has a calming effect and helps centre us in the moment.
Plus, we can take deep breaths anywhere and with our eyes open—an important consideration given hard parenting moments can arise anywhere and busy youngsters require constant supervision.
During a calm moment, try pausing and noticing how you feel. For example, you can practice this skill as you’re folding laundry or cleaning up after a meal.
Mindfulness can be as simple as drawing awareness to your breath as it enters and leaves your body. If distressful thoughts or feelings crop up, try acknowledging them without judgement and try offering yourself gentle encouragement.
Interested in learning more? You can find more information about mindfulness practices, including self-guided exercises, at selfcompassion.org.
Being a mom is hard but there’s help
Self-compassion is a process. It takes work to change old patterns—to learn to treat ourselves with the decency and respect we deserve.
And like any new habit, bringing self-compassion into our lives takes practice. But we can improve this skill, slowly but surely.
Every time you pause to notice how you feel, offer a kind word of self-encouragement, and perform a simple act of self-care you’re sending yourself the message “I’m worth it.”
And you are worth it, mama, in every way.
So, what’s the next step you can take to bring some self-compassion into your life?
Let me know in the comments below.
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