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Revised August 10, 2019
In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Do you have realistic expectations of yourself as a mom?
Are you feeling burnt out because of your own expectations for yourself?
At this point in history, the modern conveniences that we have make life pretty easy. You would think that with dishwashers, vacuums that vacuum on their own, and automatic washing machines, we would use our extra time doing things that really matter. That we would fall asleep at the end of the day feeling fulfilled and happy. Unfortunately, statistics say the opposite. According to a Gallup poll, “In the U.S. alone, 70% of people working are unhappy and don’t care what they do.”¹
Now that we can have instant communication with anyone in the world, not having to wait weeks for a response from a letter, there is the potential to have deeper friendships with many people. But that’s not the case either. A recent study by Health Insurer Cigna’s 2018 U.S. Loneliness Index reveals that “46% of Americans report feeling lonely sometimes or always,” while only 53% of them say they have “meaningful, in-person social interactions with friends or family on a daily basis.”² This effects our mood, health, and quality of life!
The good old days
Recently, we started listening to the Little House on the Prairie series with the kids in the car. Laura and Mary (the little girls in the book) got so excited about seemingly small things such as playing with a handmade doll, listening to their Pa play the fiddle, and getting to eat maple sugar candy. Every generation likes to repeat the line, “When I was a kid…,” and, “We need to go back to the good old days.” The older I get, the more I agree. I think we have lost an appreciation for the simple things in our striving to be and have it all!
We put so much pressure on ourselves and sometimes have unrealistic expectations for ourselves!
I think a lot of this problem stems from the old phrase, “Keeping up with the Joneses.” We feel like we need to be everything all at once and have it all! We know that we don’t have to keep up with everyone else, yet we put so much pressure on ourselves to do so! I love Pinterest (as that’s probably how you found my blog), but it can also be a curse. We think it’s not enough to just cook good meals for our families and spend quality time with them. We feel we have to have a perfectly decorated house, make paleo meals and have kids that are well rounded (sports, ballet, musical instrument, etc..), all while looking like the cover of a magazine and having abs to prove you work out constantly! Oh, and don’t forget to plan your “picture perfect” vacation! It’s exhausting! Do you think these are realistic expectations to have for ourselves?
If you’re like me, you feel these pressures and can get overwhelmed by them. We can easily start to feel spread too thin! All of the sudden, holidays are more stressful and these special days can become more food & decor expos than family-centered. Don’t forget to take a picture of all your hard work to put on Instagram! I love good food and I like to decorate but are we taking it a little too far?
What should we do?
So, what are we going to do to not be included in these statistics? How can we live in such a way that we don’t live unfulfilled and lonely? How can we set realistic expectations for ourselves? While there is much we could discuss on this topic, I want to tackle just a few ways that are helping me have more realistic expectations of myself and to feel I’m living a more fulfilled life.
Note: I’m not making light of these issues and suggesting a one-step fix all!
1. Be more intentional with your time!
There are only so many hours in a day! Taking care of a baby has forced us to be more intentional with our time. A few days ago, my husband and I tried out a new book with question prompts. One question was about dreams that are at the forefront of our minds, and one was for our goals for the week. We found that these were helpful to keep us focused and not be distracted with goals society pressures us with! Stay focused on what is important to you! By only focusing on your goals, you eliminate unnecessary goals, and set realistic expectations, rather than being stressed by too many unrealistic pressures.
2. Don’t sacrifice your relationships with family & friends on the altar of perfection!
It’s easy to get so caught up in the busyness of life that talking with family and friends can fall by the wayside. We browse our Facebook or Instagram feeds and know what our friends & family are doing but not really how they are doing. Don’t let this be the extent of your interactions with them. Don’t be so much of a perfectionist that you only have company over if your house is spotless. We need each other more than we realize!
3. Just focus on a few goals at a time!
What’s the old saying? “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” For me, I’ve realized I’ve slacked off a little bit with some of my goals. This is due in part because I have too many goals! This affects my family as I start focusing on too many things and time with them gets cut back. Having a family is a balancing act. The more little project “rabbit trails” I go down the less time I have for them. Setting fewer goals is a way that I can set more realistic expectations of myself. I need to come back to just focusing on a few things, one of them being that I’m fully present with my kids!
4. Stop being so hard on yourself!
My sister-in-law recently encouraged me by saying that I was a good mom. My first reaction was to be very critical of myself and think of all the reasons I’m not. Just like it’s hard to accept someone saying you’re beautiful because we see all our flaws! We truly are our worst critics. If you are a parent, let me just say that I’m sure you are doing better than you think! You may not have done some special Pinterest activity with them or given them healthy snacks in the shapes of animals this week, but if you have hugged them, told them you loved them and spent some focused time with them then your on the right track! I love Family Circus and my husband used to cut them out of the newspaper for me. There is one where it shows the mom ironing and the kids happily playing on one side of the room. The next picture shows her ironing and all the kids around her feet. Kid’s just want to be near their moms!
Sometimes this is hard for me as I like personal space! A friend of ours has reminded my husband and I that one of the most important ministries a mom can have is the ministry of presence. You don’t have to be talking and playing with your kids all the time. Just being around them and available is huge! Read, make cookies, play a game or take them for a walk. These activities are simple and cheap, but kids don’t care as long as it’s with you!
Take a deep breath!
You are most likely putting pressure that you don’t need to on yourself! So, take a deep breath! Being a mom is simple (not easy). Don’t make it complicated! Come back to what is most important and order your “To Do List” accordingly. Stay connected with your friends and family. By doing these things I think you’ll feel more fulfilled and happy!
Our kids love books. Here are some book suggestions that your kids might like:
If you want some great family game suggestions, check out this post:
- Bratasanu, Dragos. “900 Million People in the World Are Unfilled With Their Work. Here’s What To Do If You’re One of Them.” Huffingtonpost.com. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dragos-bratasanu/900-million-people-in-the_b_8917818.html (accessed December 13, 2018).
- Lardieri, Alexa. “Study: Many Americans Report Feeling Lonely, Younger Generations More So.” usnews.com. https://www.usnews.com/news/health-care-news/articles/2018-05-01/study-many-americans-report-feeling-lonely-younger-generations-more-so (accessed December 13, 2018).