Mothers were left juggling the unimaginable in 2020. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic mothers struggled to balance work without childcare, remote learning for children, the mental and physical health tolls social distancing has created for each member of the home, the lack of supports to lean into, and the additional mother-load mothers have been carrying for generations. 2020 has left mothers without places in the labor force, feeling burned out, isolated, and struggling. In 2021, let us pledge as mothers to start normalizing some things to better support one another and to better support our own motherhood journey.
1. Ditching the Mother-Load
Listen, mothers are SUPER humans, not superhuman.
Modern mothers cannot be responsible for all the things. They need help. They need supports. We can no longer expect mothers to carry the load that the past generations of mothers carried, as we are no longer living in the same world.
Can you sit down and make a list of all the unpaid work you are doing in your home? What’s on the list? The meals – planning them, shopping for them, cooking them, and cleaning them up. The laundry, cleaning, and knowing where everything for everyone lives in your home so when your son asks where his socks are for soccer, you aren’t scrambling to find them. The appointments– scheduling, arranging childcare for others or how to get the child there in the middle of the day, taking them, and knowing all of the information that will be asked at the appointment, don’t forget to ask about that thing that is going on with her eye.
You know what I am talking about. I could write pages and pages of what our mother-load list entails.
And we aren’t doing ourselves any favors by not normalizing how unbearable this load can be. We sign into our social media accounts and it’s easy to get sucked into the comparison trap where there are picture perfect mothers with their picture perfect families, and their picture perfect lives. They are doing crafts, the housework, the cooking, and tending to their family’s every need while looking beautiful and fulfilled.
This year, let’s ditch the idea that mothers can do it all.
This year, let’s normalize that mothers can’t do it all. **Cue the village!**
2. Equal Parenting
While we are on the topic of ditching the mother-load, let’s normalize equal parenting!
Dear Dad’s we love you, we couldn’t do this without you, but we need to stop glorifying you for doing the bare minimum.
What is the bare minimum?
Parenting your child that you helped create is literally the bare minimum. You aren’t the babysitter, you are the dad, and it’s time we all get on the same page about it. We need to normalize dad’s getting their hands dirty in this parenting gig, taking days off work to be home with a sick child, and sharing the responsibilities of raising children.
Sit down with your partner and divide the load. Who is in charge of doctor’s appointments? Who is in charge of packing lunches? Who is in charge of mornings? Who is in charge of bath time?
Create an equal or at least fair parenting plan.
A great resource to begin these conversations and put in place such systems is Fair Play, by Eve Rodsky.
In Motherly’s 2020 State of Motherhood Survey it was reported that, “in 2020 a full 97% of Millennial mothers reported feeling burned out by motherhood at least some of the time, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making moms feel even worse.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt intensified a lot of these issues for mother’s, but the way in which our modern motherhood is still setup on the societal standards that the majority of the parenting responsibilities default to the mother is leaving mothers burned out, struggling with a lack of identity, and unable to meet their own needs.
This year, in 2021, we need to normalize the importance of self-care for mothers without guilt, shame or judgment and in ways that don’t include going to the grocery store alone or taking a shower.
Mothers deserve to refill their cup to maintain the attention and care childrearing requires. You are worth your own time!
4. Cluttered Homes
Going back to the picture perfect social media scrolling we can find ourselves battling, let’s talk about picture perfect homes.
Millennial mothers are mothering in a world with mom influencers popping up left and right sharing the latest tricks and tips on how to manage your time to have a spotless home, what brand cleaners to use, and how to better organize the toy room. But the thing I am seeing that’s missing from this niche of mom influencers is relatable homes.
I don’t know about you, but my home does not look like this. We have a kitchen that needs updated, a master bathroom that is half demoed, and clutter.
I’m a pretty tidy person. Things have a place and the mess makes me anxious, but I also have these little people that live here. They come with a lot of stuff and they play, abandon, take something else out, play, abandon, come back to first thing, but need something else to go with it, and the cycle continues until bedtime when it looks like a tornado ran through my house.
Not to mention the 87 feedings that took place before lunchtime.
Stop shoving your mess aside for the photo. We all have it. Let’s normalize it and stop apologizing for it!
My motherhood is different from yours.
My life experiences were different from yours, all the things that aligned in the universe to make me the way I am are different from yours, my home environment is different from yours, and my children are different from yours.
All of it is different and to expect that we all are going to go about it the same sets us up for failure.
Let’s normalize the different rather than shaming and fearing the different.
I am the mother of 4. There are differences in the way I parent and teach each child. One child needs something presented in certain ways, one child is sensitive and needs things worded a different way, and one child needs choices for everything.
Other choices, they are not better or worse than yours, they are just different.
And there is so much beauty in the otherness. There is so much to be learned from watching the mom on the playground that didn’t engage her toddler in a power struggle, but communicated differently than you have. Put those moments in your mama toolbox.
Normalize appreciating differences and otherness… and us mothers, just may change the world.
6. Having Bad Days and Repairing Bad Behavior
The mommy meltdown…
We all have been there. We all have these days. We all get angry and loss our cool with our kids.
Even your favorite parenting expert, the soft-spoken therapist you follow on Instagram, and the church lady next door that seems so sweet. Motherhood is hard and raising children takes a lot.
It is kids jobs to test our boundaries and learn how to function in the world and it is our job to show up and guide them.
You don’t have to show up perfectly 100% of the time to show up and guide them.
Bad days do not equal a bad mom. Good moms have bad days and then good moms show up in connection with their children and repair.
“I’m sorry mommy yelled at you earlier. I was feeling frustrated and I am sorry if that scared you or made you feel sad. I will work on calming down next time I am having big feelings.”
Model repair. Normalize big feelings. Let the mom guilt go.
Most importantly, we need to better support and encourage each other and ourselves through this motherhood journey. There are no perfect mothers, but there are millions of great mothers. So this year, let’s normalize moms not being able to do it all, let’s normalize equal parenting as the standard, let’s normalize mothers taking care of themselves and getting a break, let’s normalize that children live in their homes, let’s normalize different moms as a beauty, and let’s normalize apologizing to our children when we have bad days. Mothers are powerful beings and they just may change the world, one tiny person at a time!