I thoroughly enjoyed speaking on the Virtual Mom Collective's January Panel this weekend, where we talked about having realistic expectations coming into the new year for a more balanced life. As a childcare coach and nanny, it’s my job to make my clients less stressed. Whether that’s giving you advice or keeping their household running like a machine, the realist in me is constantly seeking to keep balance and solve issues quickly. It wasn’t until I became a mom that I realized there was a direct correlation between my high, unrealistic expectations of life and how stressed out and unbalanced my life had become. The only way my family could thrive was if I got real and worked with the resources we had in our current situation. So, when I opened my coaching practice last year, I started to notice a familiar pattern when talking to moms about how they were doing. At some point in the convo, one or maybe two of the following is said,
Everyone is telling me that’s the ONLY way X will happen is if I do Y.
I just want my kid to accomplish XYZ like So in so in their class/playgroup. I’m just not doing a good enough job.
So and so on Instagram, I just don’t know how she does it and makes it look so easy.
Everyone is guilty of these comparison statements. You don’t realize that you are already way out of touch with reality by saying them because it’s not your reality. I ultimately have to stop these clients and ask them flat out? What do you want? What does your family need?
We use other people's lives, experiences, and goals to define happiness and what is normal. But every family is different. What works for your family is what makes you successful. For some families, this may be co-sleeping or sleep training. Some families may be two parents working 40-hour corporate weeks, and they have a full-time nanny or mom staying at home to homeschool. Even parents tag-teamed between two houses and the human gods that I like to call the single parents. In 15 years of being a nanny, I’ve seen many different family dynamics, and no two are the same.
Due to the pandemic, social media has become a larger part of our lives. We are using it to connect with the people we are desperately missing. It's just a filter for life’s good parts. But let me remind you that it’s fundamentally a huge industry and business. Accounts are being pushed with dollars and brands behind them while other crucial content is being hidden. You either play the algorithm game or don’t, and I know that line gets blurred when your business depends on social media for some of us moms. We take a break for our family or mental health, and we are punished with lower metrics and lost followers. Frankly, we rarely get to see the ugly parts because we’ve been convinced that we only want to see Instagram and Pinterest perfect. The truth is you only see 10% of the actual picture most of the time. But no matter what, we all are unrealistically comparing ourselves to people who aren’t us or living in our shoes and going to bed each night eating ourselves alive over it.
I’ve worked for a lot of different kinds of successful moms over the years. I’ve learned some secrets, hacks, and the unfortunate ugly truth.
Most of these moms are flat out lying to you. SHE DOESN’T DO IT ALONE. She did not wake up looking flawless with her hair curled. She has a team who sets up these shoots and does the posts, often planning a specific day or entire weekend to shooting content used for months. She has a cleaner to clean her house. She has a nanny to watch the kids while she works. Families are often hidden in the wings to help as needed. Her groceries are delivered, and the trainer comes to the house. They may not mention it at all in their stories, but I promise you this is what is happening. That’s the problem with this scenario. We are emulating and striving to be something that isn’t realistic for our own lives. Their family is completely different than yours and mine. And the truth is that even if we had those same resources and situation, we still wouldn’t be doing it the same as them because every family is different.
If you haven’t noticed, there is a good chunk of CEOs and executive moms who don’t have social media because they just don’t have time for it. Any real and honest mom will admit they don’t do it alone or even that it's easy. They just have become realistic about what they can accomplish in 24 hours and where their priorities ultimately lie. They have taken their current family situation into account and owned it. They figure out what works and what doesn't. They change what they can change and take challenges as they come. They ask for help and delegate out what they can't or don't like doing.
So how does one be more realistic this year and balanced:
Define your top 5 priorities for the year. - Focus on just those five things. Otherwise, you are just spreading yourself thin and essentially adding more to your plate.
Know your limits and your situation. and honor them. You are only human, and this is your story. Not anyone else. You may have the same hours as Beyonce, but you don't have the same resources, and that's okay. Work with what you got.
Take a good look at what you are intaking. Stop following accounts and people who give you unrealistic expectations or give advice that doesn't resonate with your family values. It’s one thing to inspire to be better by admiring a quality in someone, but that someone shouldn’t make you go to bed feeling like a failure. You shouldn't be forcing parenting or childcare methods that don't work for your family. This goes for family and friends too. There are mute and restrict buttons for a reason, especially if you don't want to deal with drama. This comes down to mental health, and that always comes first.
I know most moms, including myself, attempt to go to sleep every night, and the mom guilt starts creeping in with “Could of, Should have, Would have," then “Well, So and So can do it. Why can’t you.” I want you to say the following to yourself:
“I am one person. I’m doing my best. I’m a kick-butt mother. Tomorrow is a new day. What I’m saying right now to myself is unrealistic and unkind.” The truth is the only person that beating you up is you, Mama. Please stop being so hard on yourself this year because you are doing a fabulous job. I promise. If you are truly looking for help or guidance, remember I offer free consults to all new clients. Come chat with me and see if I can be of any help you be less stressed.