I asked for input from moms under 40 and was a little surprised at what I found out. Not much has changed since I was a young mom. Women still struggle with the same things. It gave me a sense of relief (because I’m past it) and a little sadness for the young moms who are still facing all those same issues.
This Mother’s Day, instead of focusing on our older moms (whom we all love and appreciate) I thought it would be appropriate to spotlight the younger moms who are still in the trenches. Want to take a look at what they are dealing with?
Primarily four concerns are plaguing them, just as they did me and many of my mom-friends 20-plus years ago.
- Time management- how to get it ALL done in one day.
- Making sure kids have everything they need to grow, mature and fulfill their potential.
- Keeping the spark hot and staying connected to their husbands/ For single moms: having time and courage to meet someone new.
- Maintaining an identity and self-value.
Here are a few bits of wisdom I’ve learned (often from making mistakes) and gathered from others over the years.
It is absolutely and unequivocally impossible to accomplish everything on your list in a single day. The sooner you can accept that and be ok with it, the less you’ll struggle and feel like a failure. Simplify and prioritize. I know—you’re thinking, “How brilliant…I’ve never heard that before!” But hearing it and doing it are different animals. Your family must eat, but missing a T-ball game occasionally will not damage them. Everyone should have clean clothes on, but they don’t have to wear the ones they like most. Do your best to under-schedule your day. You seldom will succeed and if by chance you end up with a little down time, grab it with both hands and don’t add to your list.
We read parenting books and go to mom’s groups and are told that we have the most important job in the world… shaping our children is up to us. No pressure, right? I remember wanting my kids to get a chance to try as many things as possible. That included at least one season on almost every kind of sports team, various musical endeavors (violin, piano and cello to name a few), acting and dance classes, riding horses, learning to water ski and surf during the summer… you name it and they did it. This is a terrific way to find out what your kid is good at and passionate for, but the problem lies in teaching them commitment. When you have a “let’s give everything a little try” mentality, there is an implicit message that if you don’t like it, you move on.
My husband and I tried to do both…offer them the “sampler experience” while explaining to them that they couldn’t quit until the season/class was completed. This can lead to burn-out for both parents and kids. Maybe a good compromise would be to try to find a weekend, one-shot opportunity when they want to experiment with something new, but when they decide to be on a team, they have to stick it out?
The practice of disciplining kids can be a real hot button between moms and dads. I will confess that this was the one issue my husband and I argued about the most. I was more lenient and he was tougher. In retrospect (and hearing from my adult kids) I can say I wish I’d deferred more to my husband and we’d been a little tougher on them. The key to winning in this case is having time to talk things through and getting soundly on the same page before the big stuff comes up.
And speaking of husbands, it is really difficult to make time for talking and connecting when kids are demanding your attention every waking minute. Most people don’t have vast resources to pay a babysitter for frequent date nights. But however it happens (trading child-care with other couples, family helping or sacrificing in another area to pay a sitter) alone time is essential. I suggest spending only a quarter of the time talking about kids and another quarter talking about practical issues like broken appliances and finances or jobs. Set a boundary and reserve half your date time to talk about how you’re feeling, being playful, flirting and affectionate. It may not sound romantic but scheduled romance is far better than no romance.
If you’re a single mom, you may have even more on your plate and no one to share the load. It may be helpful to find other like-minded single moms to trade child-care with and also to support you emotionally. Be sure you have a little time away from your kids (and work) to breathe, relax and even socialize. You won’t meet the love of your life sitting in front of the TV in your yoga pants. There are fun and meaningful things you could be doing on occasion to connect with the outside world.
All moms have a tendency to play the comparison game, and believing that they fall short. Some women seem to have it all together, but you’d likely be surprised at what’s really going on in her home and in her head. Do your best, according to your own life, resources and schedule. Own it with pride.
One last thought, you will not always be a mommy first. There will come a day when you have a little more time to explore your own interests and nurture your gifts and step into a purpose that doesn’t revolve around your kids. It’s a good idea to try to begin that process now. Even if it’s only 10 minutes a week, try to begin stepping into your identity and the calling God has on your future.
If you’re not feeling the love today, remember that what you’re doing is exceptional, almost impossible and of the highest value. You were called to be their mom and the One who called you is equipping you daily.
Share your challenges, memories, advice or encouragement in a comment below. Happy Mother’s Day!
*Special thanks to my daughter-in-law for contributing greatly to my research.