As moms, sometimes we just need to be told we are doing a good job. Let’s face it — it is a demanding task to show up to serve our kids each day, and our kids and partners do not always recognize the work that goes into motherhood.
Not only that, but it’s easy to feel inadequate. There are so many opinions about how kids should be raised and how moms should parent, but the truth is, we are each different and bring our own unique strengths and gifts to motherhood.
“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”—Jill Churchill
Keep reading to find the encouragement, support, and perspective you need to embrace the (wonderful) mom that you are.
Let Go of the Mom Guilt
I think that by default, moms tend to focus on the guilt we have.
We feel guilty for not doing things a certain way, for not being able to be everything to everybody, for not having particular skills, for having moments when we are stressed and lose our temper, and for all the things we are not doing that we would either like to be doing or think we should be doing.
Does this sound familiar? Does your mental energy tend to go here? How long is the list of things you feel guilty about right now?
I know, personally, I struggled with intense mom guilt when I chose to feed my first baby formula instead of breastfeeding her, for example.
It’s totally normal to feel guilty, and I would argue that the guilt is evidence of what a good mom you are.
If we did not care about our kids, if we did not want to do right by them, if we did not want to continually improve as mothers, we would not feel guilty.
So, do not feel bad about having a list of things that you feel guilty about. However, it’s important to get your mental energy away from guilt and focused more on your strengths. The reason this is important to me is that I want you to be able to embrace the unique mother that you are and the places that you really excel as a mom.
“Rest easy, real mothers. The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.”—Jodi Picoult
These journals for moms will help you take some time to focus on your strengths and blessings instead of your perceived faults and failures.
I have also created my own free printable journal for moms that I encourage you to download.
Find Joy in the Little Moments
I can’t help but notice the giant paradox of motherhood.
This is the time of life — parenting young children — that older parents look back on fondly, that strangers warn young parents they will miss one day.
And yet, moms are often too exhausted or overwhelmed to notice much of anything but the messes, the bickering, and the endless requests and needs to be met.
Everywhere we turn, there is something to be done and someone who needs us. It is so tiring, it hurts.
And yet, when our children have moved out and are independent, I am sure we will fiercely miss this season. What a paradox.
Where is the point at which we can just look at our lives and think, “This is the sweet spot?”
I wonder if we always look at our lives as a whole, maybe we will never feel that way.
Instead, maybe we have to find the little moments.
My baby’s giggle. My daughter’s strong progress report. My toddler’s comical excitement over having meatballs for dinner. My son’s imagination leading him to create all day.
Each day is a collection of moments. If we concentrate on the beauty of some, maybe that will allow us to power through the ugly ones.
Maybe that’s why as older parents, we will look back fondly on this life and miss it. It’s the little moments of beauty that will linger while the others fade away.
Here are some ideas for finding and preserving those little moments.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that I may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases.
Short Video Clips
You can use an app such as LeapSecond or 1 Second Everyday to take a short video clip each day. It was my New Year’s resolution to do this consistently every month, and it has been such a blast for me to watch back all of our little moments as one quick montage.
Create a Social Media Memory Book
I don’t know about you, but I often naturally capture my happiest moments on social media — funny kid quotes, memorable pictures, milestones. After sharing your positive memories on social media, you can use a company like My Social Book to create a memory book each year.
Write It Down
Make a point at the end of each day to write in a gratitude journal. Jot down at least one positive memory at the end of every day. Read them back occasionally, especially when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Try to train yourself to find moments in the day when you can be fully present. Take extra time to let your little moments sink in when you recognize them. Use all of your senses to capture a full memory you can go back to when you need a pick-me-up.
Ask Your Kids to be Creative
At the end of a day, request that your kids draw a picture of a favorite memory from that day. Not only will this capture your little moments and help your kids to be creative, but it will also give you conversation starters and the ability to see what was memorable or important to them. Maybe it will also give you some perspective. Some days that seem simple or insignificant in adult minds are actually very special to kids.
Keep a Family Journal
Look at Us Now: A Creative Family Journal offers pages and pages of interactive prompts for your family to work through together, little by little or all at once. You will draw pictures, make lists, trace hands, and write down nicknames and family jokes, and by the end, you will have a keepsake snapshot of your family from this moment in time. My family has had a wonderful time filling in these pages, and I’m sure we will love looking back at it in years to come.
Use a Memory Box or Jar
Make it a family tradition to write a little moment from the day on a slip of paper at night and keep these in a box or memory jar. This could be a fun thing to revisit at the end of each month or year to reminisce about all the great moments you had together.
Get Memory-Keeping Supplies Delivered
Subscribe to a Cratejoy box, such as Found and Flowered. You’ll regularly receive supplies to use for your journaling and memory-keeping.
Set up an email address that’s just for the purpose of capturing your little moments. Send a quick message each night with a brief reflection from the day. I have also heard of people sending emails to their small children and then sharing the emails with them when they are older.
Make Sure You’re in the Pictures
When you go to a social gathering, ask friends to snap a candid photo of you with your kids if they find the right time. So often, moms are the ones behind the camera. Photos of you interacting with your kids are a good way to remember the underlying sweetness of these tiring days.
Stop Worrying So Much about the Mess
I have a feeling that I’d be a much better mom if I did not have to simultaneously worry about keeping the house clean.
Our house is covered in dust, jelly, and discarded socks. It often looks as though the playroom heaved its contents haphazardly all over the living room floor and an art cabinet exploded onto the dining room table. We need new furniture; it’s mismatched and worn. But we can’t figure out the point in buying anything nice since the kids and cats would probably destroy it anyway.
But I have to remind myself — it’s OK. And here’s why.
Our house is brimming with life.
I really cannot imagine being in a more life-affirming season. Four people depend on me to survive.
My days are spent making sure my kids have their basic human needs met, feel safe and loved, and maybe even learn something. They couldn’t make it without me.
Our house is full of raw, real emotion—belly-laughter, distraught tears, groans of frustration. The kids’ main goal in any given moment is to have fun.
Now, I don’t do a lot in the way of conventional homemaking—you know, fancy cooking or planning arts and crafts projects. But I create an environment where I hope my kids can feel free to be their authentic selves, to learn life lessons, and grow each day. And that is truly important work. So what if we’re a little messy while it gets done?
This is just a temporary time.
It’s only a short while that my kids will be this small. I have seen how fast my eight-year-old has grown, and I know it will seem like an instant before my one-year-old is her size. We’re in survival mode a lot around here, and I think that’s OK.
Soon, the kids will all be more independent and less… sticky. And, if I do my job right, they’ll help out around here more, too.
Then, I’ll be able to put time into decorating my house HGTV-style, deep-cleaning, and organizing. This is just not that time.
It’s futile to clean up.
If I spent my whole day cleaning up after the kids, it would be a complete waste of time. My two-year-old will dump out a container of blocks as soon as I’ve picked up the last one. My kids will bring home piles of work from school. They all seem to leave about as much food in crumbs on the floor or smeared on the table as they consume during mealtime.
I get the basics done, but trying to make everything immaculate all the time would be, as they say, like brushing my teeth while eating Oreos.
Quite frankly, no one expects it.
I doubt I could find a single person who would stop over here and expect my house to be sparkling clean. It would probably actually seem odd if a mother of four kids under nine kept a perfect house.
Granted, it makes me feel better if we have friends over and the place is not a total disaster. But I truly don’t think anyone actually expects it out of me.
But it comes with the territory. It’s a mess that’s made because six people live in this house—really live. And if I had to choose between this life or a neat one… well, honestly, I think there are some moments when I would pick the neat one.
But this one is pretty darn beautiful. And you know what? When I’m older and my kids have grown, I’ll bet you anything I will look back longingly at this mess and wish I was living in it once again.
Prepare for the Moments of Overwhelm
Do you ever have moments when one kid throwing art supplies all over the floor while another is having a meltdown or gets hurt and all the while, you need to somehow make dinner, and the mess of the house is practically suffocating you, and you haven’t slept in three years?
Me, too. Often.
It’s important to prepare for moments of overwhelm like these. If we don’t, I think we can get completely swept up in them.
You will find eleven helpful tactics for calming down in moments of overwhelm here.
Surround Yourself with Supportive Moms
I truly believe that moms need other moms. Real moms. Moms with whom you can share the reality of your life without having to filter out the rawness and the challenges.
This is why I have created my Facebook group, Maternal Reality.
The idea behind the group is that we share the reality of motherhood with one another. Sometimes we put our best face forward in public or in social media, all pretending to one another that we have everything together…
…when really we are sitting in a mess of dirty laundry and a kid just dropped a bowl of cereal on the floor and we’re late again for something and somebody just pooped.
So, in Maternal Reality, we show the real pictures, ask the real questions, and tackle the real problems we all have as moms.
We also support one another.
We share our meal plans on Sunday to get inspiration from one another.
There is a space to share a bite-sized thing we want to accomplish that week on Mini-Goal Mondays.
On #MomWin Wednesdays, we take a sec to brag about something we feel good about.
And we also have a question of the week every Friday that helps us reflect on motherhood. The questions are designed to bring you back to what’s going right when you may be so ready to focus on what’s going wrong.
It is such a fun, engaged group of moms!
Request to join Maternal Reality here! Can’t wait to see you in there.
If you need help thinking of other ways to make friends with other moms, here are some ideas:
Through your partner.
Your partner’s buddies, cousins, and work colleagues might be married to women you really click with. In fact, our kids’ first babysitter (who later became a dear friend) was the wife of one of my husband’s work colleagues. I am also close with the wife of one of my husband’s college friends. =
When I worked outside the home at a university, I became close friends with the women in my office. Even now that I no longer work there, we still regularly keep in touch. But friendships emerged through other connections. For example, someone who worked in a different part of the university responded to an email telling me that she was going on maternity leave soon. I wrote back, “I’m going on maternity leave soon, too! When are you due?” and we started a conversation (and eventually got our two babies together for a tiny baby playdate!). Another friendship formed when a work colleague got off the phone with a woman from another department, told me how much I had in common with her, and suggested we chat.
Through other friends.
My third child was born during an apparent baby boom. Tons of people I knew were having babies around that time, but most of them didn’t know each other. I invited several of these moms and their babies to my house for a playgroup one morning, and a couple of the moms really hit it off together. Now, they’re friends in their own right! Don’t be shy about asking your friends to introduce you to any of their other friends you might get along with, accepting invitations to birthday parties or other social gatherings, or orchestrating your own social events where you tell your friends to bring another friend along. This is true social networking.
Through direct sales.
I worked in direct sales for about four years. A lot of people think of direct sales as “asking your friends to buy things.” But a hidden benefit of direct sales is the new relationships you form. I met new friends from training events, team meetings, and general networking of fellow direct sellers. I met new friends through the parties my friends would host for me, vendor events, and even through my website contact form. If you’re looking to be thrown into new social circles, direct sales is an awesome way in!
Through kids’ activities.
If you are seeing a mom week after week at preschool dropoff or swim lessons, introduce yourself! One of the nicest aspects of this way of meeting friends is that the kids should already know each other. This makes playdates a breeze. I lucked out when I met a mom that had one child in my daughter’s kindergarten class and another in my son’s preschool class. We got together so the kids could play, but now we are buddies, too!
I hope these ideas help you realize that you are doing great and will give you ways to find the support you need and deserve as the wonderful mom you are.