One thing I was never prepared for as a new mother was the many expectations I would feel each day. Whether it was ideas from family, friends, neighbors, church members, doctors, nurses, or even strangers, everyone seems to have opinions on the “right” way to be a mother. And especially the “right way” to mother my children.
With a new year, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the many ways you want to make a difference as a mom. I want to help you make the most out of each day of motherhood, and these tips help me manage the many expectations of motherhood in a healthy way.
Recognize where your expectations are coming from.
What is the source of expectations you are feeling? Are these expectations you are creating for yourself? And if yes, are they realistic? Are they societal expectations? Family expectations? Sometimes recognizing where your feelings are coming from helps to break down the pressure you are feeling and really understand if it is worth your attention.
Studies repeatedly find that mothers’ expectations majorly influence the likelihood to experience postpartum depression. This is so important! Creating positive and attainable expectations for your role as a mother can play such a role in the satisfaction you feel each day.
Identify what is most important to you.
As much as we would love to do it all, they say “it takes a village” for a reason. Your children will need many things from you, but you are one person. Prioritize values, activities, or ways you feel you need to help your family and use those as filters for identifying where to spend your energy.
It also helps to identify what you’re really good at and what ways you can help your children and then specialize! It’s okay to ask for help. If you’re great at organizing or planning, help your kids learn from this skill. Plan your weeks and let your kids benefit from the structure. If you’re good at being creative but struggle on the organization front–it’s okay. Find a friend who can help show you some tricks to help with organization. You don’t need to be perfect to be helping your children learn skills that will help them.
Make lists to help you prioritize.
I am a list maker, and it works for me. Sometimes seeing all the things that stress me out on a paper makes my load feel more manageable and brings everything into perspective. Write down what you need to do, what you are feeling, and then let the list speak for itself. You may find there are things you can cross off your list or save for another day.
Just do your best.
I know it’s cliche, but at the end of the day let what you’ve given your children be enough. Tomorrow is a new day! Forget the dishes you haven’t gotten to or the bathrooms that need to be cleaned. (They will always be there) Try to take a moment each day to connect with your child and make them feel loved. At the end of the day, that is the very most important thing you can do as a mother.
Whether you’re juggling a job, multiple kids, housework, personal goals, there will always be something. Babies will cry, toddlers will throw tantrums, houses will get messy, but you are the gatekeeper for the expectations you let in.
This new year, let’s be the best moms we can be with positive and healthy expectations that lift us as mothers. We can all find a little more joy in the many roles we juggle each day and less in the need to be perfect.