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Setting Realistic Expectations When Motherhood Feels Hard

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Motherhood is hard and some days it can feel overwhelming. But one powerful tool we can use as moms is to set up realistic expectations so we don't fall into the trap of mom guilt.When the days feel too long and our patience is playing a good game of hide-and-seek motherhood can feel really hard. And it gets even harder when mom-guilt or perfectionism tries to creep!

How do we as moms decide what was a good “mom day” or a bad one? Is it when everything goes as we planned? Is it when no major catastrophes happened that day? What about when your to-do list actually gets done? Or if all your kids listened and obeyed the first time all day?

OK, that last one was part of a fairy tale. My apologies. 😉

The point is, how do we know if we’re doing a good job at this mom thing? I believe the answer is moms must learn how to set realistic expectations for motherhood.

This is especially true in our massively social media driven world where all moms seem to want to share is their highlight reel.

Well, I’ve got news for you. ALL moms have messy floors, dirty dishes, kids that talk back and disobey, and a to-do list a mile long that never seems to get done. Oh, and are plagued by this nagging feeling that you’re screwing up your kids.

As moms, we’re a lot more alike than we think. Sure, we may have majorly different parenting styles and world-views but we love our children and work really hard to make sure they get their best chance in life.

That’s why we need to cut ourselves a little slack and begin to see motherhood from a different, better view. Here are 5 actions you can take right now that’ll help you set realistic and healthy expectations for your motherhood journey.

Related: Why Your Kids Need a Mother Not a Martyr

Drop Perfection

No mom is perfect and we all have good stuff and not so good stuff, but we were made for our kids and they for us. I believe birth is a divine appointment, and we were all created by a loving God. With this in mind, I firmly believe that we don’t just have random kids. Sometimes it can feel like we do, though. Lol

We are gifted our children. Children that we’re already equipped to raise and understand even if it doesn’t seem that way. Trying to be perfect and make no mistakes is a total setup for epic failure.

In fact, perfection is really an illusion like a mirage in the dessert. It temps us to keep chasing it, but the truth is, it’s not real. We were created to simply be US. That’s it. Learn to be OK with your unique personality and parenting style. And stop comparing yourself to other moms.  Your kiddos need YOU!

Related: Confessions of a Control Freak and How I Found Freedom in Letting Go

Ignore the Finger Pointers and Mom Shamers

There are so many opinions out there, and if you pay attention to all of them you’ll go crazy. That brings me to my next point which is to properly manage all the opinion factories who work day and night to give their opinion on “best practices” for raising your kids.

Sometimes these opinions come from the media, sometimes from your other mom friends, and sometimes they come from your own parents and in-laws.

While getting advice and feedback from other well-meaning people is a really good thing, when those opinions cross over into judgements or shaming it needs to be shut down.

It’s all the judgy finger pointing and mom shaming that happens in our society today that really causes our mom-guilt meter to break through the glass. Let’s face it, we’ve all made mistakes in motherhood.

I’m talking about mistakes, not poor choices. Though I’ve made those too.

Mistakes are like when I rode 45 minutes across town only to realize when I get there, I never actually buckled my baby’s car seat. It was a potentially devastating mistake. I laid her in but got distracted and thought I already buckled her.

All choices and even mistakes have consequences. But when something terrible does happen, I see so much blaming and shaming being thrown around and so little compassion and support.

Related: How to Get Your Kids to Listen Without Yelling

Say No to Mom-guilt 

Another powerful way to set realistic expectations as a mom is to say no to mom-guilt. Yes you can get rid of mom-guilt. But having that guilty feeling is just par for the course for moms because the real source of mom-guilt is the love you have for your child. If you didn’t have that, why would you ever feel guilty?

The thing we must remember is we have grace. God’s grace causes things to work out well even if we’ve messed up big time. That same grace is there to help us move beyond our mistakes so we can move forward without heavy guilt baggage.

Self care checklist for busy moms

Remember Your Original Vision for Motherhood 

After you’ve had a few kids it becomes harder to remember why you wanted to have a family in the first place. To remember those visions you had of becoming a mother and what you wanted to accomplish.

My husband and I struggled with infertility issues so it took us almost 5 years before we got pregnant with our first child. The last few years before I got pregnant were agony. Every single month, 12 of them to be exact, brought extreme heart ache.

It also was a season of vision, as I could see nothing but my baby for years before she came. We longed to finally meet her. In that time of waiting, I never thought of the mistakes I’d make or the frustrations I’d later feel raising a pre-teen daughter.

I only focused on loving her with all my heart and providing her with her absolute best chance in this life.

So, when motherhood feels hard I can simply refocus and remember that I’m doing just fine as long as I’m loving her with all my heart and still working to give her the best I can give.

Let’s all be honest with ourselves for a moment. When was the last time you ended the day with a positive thought about yourself as a mom?

Have you ever just given yourself a mental pat on the back for being a great mom?

Well, you should! And I’m giving you one right now – Awesome Job Mom!! I see you!

Go ahead and lift up another mom and share this post to all the moms you know. And together we can lay down perfection or guilt and embrace US.

Leave a comment below and bravely share how you’re going to embrace YOU.

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