It has been a brutal pregnancy so far. 17 weeks in and I’m finally starting to experience some relief from my morning sickness misery (aka 24/7 sickness). Why it’s called “morning sickness” makes no sense. In fact, I often felt the worst in the evenings …
According to Pew Research, the “sandwich generation” describes, “those who have a living parent age 65 or older and are either raising a child under age 18 or supporting a grown child”. And they explain that the sandwich generation often is providing financial and or emotional support for …
After meeting someone new, I always dread that question, “What do you do?” This question used to be a source of pride for me when I was working (in a paid position) and/or was studying in school. Now though, I feel a touch of shame when I answer, “I’m at home taking care of my toddler”. I always feel deficient and like I am not enough when I say this. This is the feeling of “stay at home mom shame”.
Why though?! In my heart of hearts, I am so incredibly honored to be a stay at home mom. I had a child because I wanted to raise and nurture him- provide him with a rock solid sense of love and safety- to play with him and witness every developmental milestone. I want to spend as much time as possible with him as he is spending these first few years of life learning about the world. And for my family, having a parent available at all times just makes our lives easier as we don’t have to juggle two work schedules with childcare.
Society Does Not Value Stay at Home Moms
So where does this stay at home mom shame come from then? I believe it comes from what society tells me (or at least what I think it’s telling me) I should value; money, a good job title and paid work. And somehow even busyness and stress have become badges of honor in our culture. So it’s easy for me to assume that the more money and stress I can generate, the more it means I am contributing to society. Flawed thinking I know, but I find myself clinging to this belief.
But I am tired of feeling like all of the energy I put into raising my son (I have never been so exhausted in all my life!) is worthless or somehow less important than what others are doing in their offices. I am raising a happy little human who will help shape the world around him as he grows up. How is this not considered one of the most important jobs?
Yes I could send my 2 year old to daycare or preschool, but is it wrong that I want to be the one to provide him with as much love and support as possible right now? He will be venturing out into the world on his own soon enough. While he is only 2 years old, I’d like to think all my time with him is having an impact.
Defining a New Set of Values as a Stay at Home Mom
So while being a stay at home mom may be a thankless job in the eyes of society, I stand behind anyone who wants to take on the role. While I have certainly had my ups and downs as a stay at home parent, I am learning to define a new set of values for myself and recognize the contributions I do make. While it has taken me a long time to get over my stay at home mom shame and confidently claim my role, I have (mostly) arrived and am excited to share what I have learned.
Self Awareness and Self Acceptance
In my particular case, I know that I can be a more present parent if I am not juggling a paid job with my home life. I wish I had the stamina and constitution to juggle both, as I know many parents do, but I know that I would really struggle under such circumstances. I tend to carry around a lot of anxiety, and I have historically always brought work home with me. I don’t want to operate as that anxious work obsessed person as I raise my son. And since my family and I have the option and privilege to have a parent at home, I am glad to be that parent.
I try to celebrate the fact that I have this self-awareness and have adapted my life to support my individual constitution and needs. There is no need to berate myself for not being able to be everything that I think I “should” be. And also no need to hold onto my stay at home mom shame.
I hope I can model all of these sentiments for my son. So that as he grows up, he listens to his own voice, rather than letting someone else tell him who he is, what he believes in, or what he needs. If self-compassion and self-awareness were more prominent values in our culture, I believe we would have stronger mental health within our communities.
Embracing a Divergent Path
We live in a time where having a parent at home is the exception rather than the rule. In 2016, Pew Research states that 1 in 5 parents is a stay at home mom or dad. And while it’s great that it is no longer the 1950s and mothers are not expected to stay at home, what about those moms who have the option to and freely make the choice to raise kids full time?
Interestingly, I do not think that stay at home dads receive the same kind of social judgment as stay at home moms. I could be wrong, but it seems that stay at home dads are celebrated for their progressive nature. While stay at home moms are seen as living in the dark ages.
So being a stay at home mom can be isolating. When everyone around me seems to get up every morning, drop their kids off at daycare or preschool and then go and be independent humans for 8 hours a day, I often feel like the odd one out. And when I take my toddler on outings, hoping to find other humans to connect with, we often find ourselves at empty playgrounds.
Luckily though, I am finally finding a small community of other stay at home parents as I scout out community activities for my toddler. We go to our local library (you can check out my post on children’s libraries), a toddler gardening group, a Tinkergarten group and we are always on the lookout for other enriching activities. So over time, I am getting to know other parents who share a similar perspective as me. And this has also really helped me battle my stay at home mom shame.
My toddler and I also get to do a lot of errands and/or activities at home together everyday. We go to the grocery store together, bake goodies and meals together and he even helps me clean the house up. While it takes a lot more time doing these sorts of activities with a toddler, we have that extra time because I am home with him throughout the day. And I like to think that becoming familiar with these tasks will serve him well as he grows up and support his growing independence.
So while stay at home motherhood can be a bit lonely at times, I try to remind myself that it is perfectly okay to be on a different path than the majority. All paths have their unique pros and cons, and what a beautiful thing that we are not all just doing the same thing as one another day in and day out. Openness to all the different kinds of life paths is how we create a kinder, more varied and welcoming world.
Appreciating Life in the Slow Lane
Operating at the pace of a toddler all day long has taught me/teaches me A LOT about patience, endurance and humility. In the working world where you are surrounded by adult colleagues and never-ending projects, the day often moves at the speed of light.
This has not been my experience with taking care of a baby and now toddler full time. While things definitely feel like they are moving at lightning speed, they simultaneously seem to be moving in a circular motion and at a tedious pace. So the days often feel somehow both chaotic and painstakingly slow. It feels like it takes about a million hours most days to get my toddler from point A to point B. And when you endure that pace and those everyday tasks day in and day out, it can be absolutely maddening.
But, I am trying to become curious about this sometimes mind-numbing pace that is a toddler’s life. A toddler exists fully in every single moment. They are not constantly looking ahead as we so often tend to do as adults. They savor their moments. The most mundane things, are somehow completely captivating to them. Life is not about getting things done for toddlers. Rather, it is about inspecting everything and doing so with an incredible amount of zest.
So I am trying to value this kind of present moment engagement in life. And rather than feeling bored, I am trying to find what might exist underneath my stubborn layer of boredom and desire to move quickly through life. I can’t say that I have found any answers yet, but I’m pretty sure there is something there to be discovered. And when I take this perspective, I am excited to get to be an explorer everyday and try and see from a new perspective.
Learning to See People for Who They Are, Not What They Do
My identity has always been very enmeshed with “what I do”. I used to believe that whatever job I had explained everything about me. What I have realized though, is that a title, whether it’s “stay at home mom”, “senior manager”, “burger flipper” etc really doesn’t cover the scope of a who a person is. We can’t actually learn that much about a person by asking them, “what do you do?”.
So rather than asking someone, “what do you do?”, perhaps we can ask them what they are interested in. We can ask questions like, “what do you enjoy doing?”. “What do you wish you had more time for?”.
Questions like this leave more room for a person to share the less obvious parts of themselves. And those are the parts that are usually the most interesting, and the parts that help us truly connect with one another.
Stay at Home Mom Pride
While being a stay at home mom is a great choice for me and my family, I want to acknowledge that this does not mean that it is the right choice for everyone. For me though, being a stay at home parent suits my individual constitution and parenting beliefs, and is teaching me valuable lessons that are helping me grow and see the world a little differently than I used to. And while stay at home mom shame creeps up from time to time, I really wouldn’t have this life any other way.
The concept of store-bought granola bars is great – easy, convenient grab and go snacks. The taste of them however, is often overly sweet and unappetizing in my opinion. And there’s just something about unwrapping food from shiny plastic that has been sitting in a …
My Chemical Pregnancies – What is a Chemical Pregnancy? – Is a Chemical Pregnancy a Miscarriage? – Do Repeated Chemical Pregnancies Count as “Recurrent Miscarriage”? – After a blighted ovum miscarriage about 6 months ago, I was cautiously optimistic that I would go on to …
While TV ads and hallmark cards often suggest that all “good” mothers want to spend Mother’s Day with their families, I am here to tell you otherwise. Most moms with young kids that I know just want some guilt free, luxurious alone time. To simply be away from screaming wiggling children. Just some quiet and stillness to catch a breath.
So I have to ask myself, why is it that we need this excuse of a national holiday to not feel guilty about asking for some alone time? To refill our cups and exist not only as mothers, but also simply as people with human needs. Am I supposed to feel guilty if I take some time for myself any other day of the year?
Yes, I love my child more than anything, but I am not above saying that I cannot keep up with him all the time and that I desperately need breaks. And even with a wonderful husband who is always stepping in and actively caring for our child, I still barely keep up and I still need breaks.
Oftentimes though, even when I take a break, I am usually feeling guilty about it. And that really takes away from my ability to take full advantage of that child-free time and refill my cup. I believe this phenomena is what is referred to as ‘mom guilt’.
Healthline defines “mom guilt” as follows, “… that pervasive feeling of not doing enough as a parent, not doing things right, or making decisions that may “mess up” your kids in the long run.”
The Roots of Mom Guilt
Mom guilt is a big hairy monster for many reasons; it is both self-imposed as well as culturally and socially imposed. And when life is moving at toddler pace in our house, aka a million miles per hour, it can be really hard to find the time and energy to fight this mom guilt monster. And when I can’t remember the last time I had an uninterrupted night of sleep, how can I possibly remember to ward off mom guilt? For survival purposes though, we must talk about it!
Feelings of Inadequacy
Behind mom guilt, is this looming sentiment of not being enough. Not being enough for yourself, for your child, for your partner, and even for society.
And for many new moms, mom guilt begins rearing its ugly head the moment their babies are born. When I was still in the hospital after my c-section, I had a rough start with Painful Breastfeeding as a New Mom and this made me feel completely inadequate. I had only been a mother for 2 days, and I already felt like I was failing. Great.
Since that time, I have learned that painful breastfeeding is not an uncommon experience among women. It would have been so helpful to know this before having my child. Why had I never heard about this kind of breastfeeding challenge? Because we don’t talk out loud about the things that make us feel ashamed or inadequate. We tend to only share the things that make us look perfect and beautiful. The ugly and difficult things remain hidden, and they feed that mom guilt monster.
Deciding to be a stay-at-home parent shortly after my son was born, I also started dealing with feelings of inadequacy in regards to being career-less (let me note though, that being a stay at home parent is 110% work, your boss is now just a tiny human and you don’t get paid). Was I not as capable as other women, who were managing both motherhood and a work life outside the home?
And I think working moms carry a similar feeling of guilt, but instead it’s about splitting their time between their children and their paid work. So either way, “hello, mom guilt”.
We live in a time culturally, where women have made great strides in claiming their rights. And this is wonderful, but a byproduct seems to be the emergence of this supermom model and ideal. The idea that women can and should take on all the jobs of motherhood and professionalism and do it all perfectly. I definitely do not meet this image. So am I a failure as a woman and a mother in our society?
Then comes the guilt from not always enjoying being a mom. It is often both chaotic and dull being with a small child day in and day out. I don’t want to change my life as a stay at home mom, but I’d also like to acknowledge that reading “Is your Mama a Llama” a hundred times is not the most inspiring or stimulating activity. Children thrive off of routine and repetition as their brains and bodies develop, so the monotony is important, but it sure can take a lot out of a person!
Mom guilt also thrives in the company of isolation. Many new moms, myself included, struggle to find other moms or really just any adults to connect with. Especially as a stay at home mom, most of my early days as a new mother were spent alone with my child. This was wonderful and beautiful in many ways, but I often found myself scheming ways to connect with other adults, and especially other moms. So without a tribe and other moms to relate with, it’s really easy to start internalizing mom guilt.
And let’s talk a little bit about hormones. I don’t know the ins and outs of hormones medically speaking, but I know that after going through pregnancy, having a child, breastfeeding, shifting menstrual cycles, and then having 2 miscarriages – and all of that accompanied by sleep deprivation – has just been a rollercoaster of a ride. And all those shifting hormones can really exacerbate any underlying feelings, such as mom guilt.
Battling Mom Guilt
So what is a mother to do? I wouldn’t trade being a mother for anything, but can we please talk about how to address this issue of not feeling like enough? While there are certainly situations involving child abuse and neglect that are unacceptable, most moms with ‘mom guilt’ are doing a fantastic job raising their kids, despite feeling otherwise. So I try to remind myself that I am enough when it comes to loving and supporting my child, in the best way I know how.
I am Enough
It’s too easy to focus on the negatives and forget about all the ways we are successfully momming. And success doesn’t always look like “success”. Sometimes success simply looks like getting out of bed in the morning after a hard night and managing to make your child some pancakes. Or maybe just managing to get clothes on them, strap them in their carseat and throw them a granola bar.
Or maybe on those hard days, success is taking a step back after your child has been screaming demands at you all morning, taking a few breaths, and calmly returning to deal with the matter at hand. Rarely does life match ideal standards and expectations. So don’t discount all the ways that you are successfully dealing with challenges. The ways that you are keeping your sh** together and continuing to love and show up for your child.
Talk with Other Moms
Once I get talking to another mom about some of the hurdles of motherhood, I realize that my experience of motherhood is not all that unique. My frustrations and exhaustion are a shared experience. While this does not objectively change much when I am in the midst of dealing with an obstinate 2 year old, it is somehow very comforting and helps battle those feelings of loneliness as a mother.
Prioritize Wellbeing Whenever Possible
At the end of the day, I don’t have much energy to exercise and plan out a week of healthy meals or go for a jog. And I certainly don’t have it in me to wake up before my toddler does to exercise or work on projects after a horrible night’s sleep. So I am working on getting creative to find ways to take care of myself physically, mentally and emotionally.
For example, instead of going out of my mind with boredom as I drive Hot Wheels cars around on the floor with my toddler, I simultaneously do some stretching and sip on a hot drink. This makes it feel a little less like I’m being held hostage by a 2 year old.
I have also started making myself a smoothie with fruits and veggies when I make one for my tot. Not only does he get some vitamins and minerals in this way, but I do too. So as time goes on, I’ll continue building in small ways to support myself as well as my toddler into our days. Sometimes all those little things can really make a big difference.
Create a Sustainable Schedule
Talking with my partner about a schedule where I can get some time away during the day has been helpful. But we have to do it days in advance for me to not feel guilt and like I am stealing time. Of course things come up and sometimes schedules don’t always work out, but planning ahead and carving out time to not be in mom-mode is essential.
I have also found it helpful to take time to adopt some Minimalist Practices to Help Prevent Parent Burnout. By simplifying things at home, it’s easier to keep a clear mind and not get lost in the mom guilt haze.
Fighting Mom Guilt 365 Days of the Year
I refuse to believe that Mother’s Day is the only day that I can take some guilt free time away from my child. I need this time to nourish myself, not only for myself, but so that I can continue to nourish my family as well. So let us take this Mother’s Day not just as an excuse to give ourselves some guilt-free TLC, but also as a reminder to tackle mom guilt the rest of the year as well.
There are plenty of reasons that mom guilt exists, but they are not good reasons to let it stick around. So join forces with other moms, remind yourself that you are enough, take care of your wellbeing and take a little time to fill your cup on a regular basis. Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday and every other day of the year!
Meet Bobby: he is approximately 2 inches tall, has grey hair, blue eyes and wears train pajama pants. Bobby likes to run fast and he also like to hide in things – like pillows, snack cups and avocados. He can even go into other people’s …
Easter egg fillers for toddlers can be super simple to put together! In fact, after getting a bag of empty easter eggs at the thrift store for $2, I simply walked around the house and poked through the pantry to find some no fuss fillers.
For young toddlers, the thrill of an easter egg hunt is more about the hunt than it is about the contents of the eggs. Ever buy your toddler an expensive toy, only to watch them toss it aside and go for an old cardboard box instead? Yep, toddlers often find everyday items around the house more interesting than fancy toys and gadgets.
Simple & Budget Friendly Easter Egg Fillers for Toddlers
So I filled my 2 year old’s easter eggs with his favorite bite size snacks, stickers, flowers, small figurines and small toy cars.
Here is a full list of some simple easter egg fillers for toddlers;
- Pom poms
- Raspberries or other chopped fruit
- Small pictures
- Circus animal cookies
- Yogurt Melties
- Puffs or cheerios
- Small heart chocolates
- Small figurines (horses, dinos, etc)
- Small cars
These are just a few ideas to get started. The point is that Easter egg fillers for toddlers don’t have to be complicated or extravagant. One of the most amazing things that toddlers remind us of as adults, is that there is joy and delight to be found in the simple and small things!
The best gift we can give our toddlers on Easter is spending some time with them. We can simply fill and hide all those little eggs in the yard or around the house, and let them play and have fun finding them.
Gathering Toddler Easter Egg Hung Materials
Creating a great holiday for toddlers isn’t about spending a lot of money or putting a ton of time into prep work. While some prep is certainly helpful to make the occasion special, it can be pretty minimal!
For example, thrift stores can be an amazing resource for gathering some fun, inexpensive and environmentally sustainable holiday materials! I found some easter baskets and all of the plastic easter eggs at our local thrift store for a grand total of $5. And all of the fillers were things we had around our house, I made or I picked up at the grocery store.
Cheers to a Happy Toddler Easter Holiday!
While taking care of toddlers is a ton of work around the clock, luckily they find joy in the simple things in life. So we can just sit back, relax and watch them squeal with delight when they find a pom pom in an easter egg!
Additional ideas to add some zest to a toddler Easter egg hunt include putting on some fun music and blowing bubbles. You can also encourage toddlers to collect small rocks, sticks or leaves if they are doing an outdoor egg hunt.
Please say hi and leave a comment below if you have any great ideas for simple easter egg fillers for toddlers!
Babies who were born shortly before or after the COVID-19 pandemic are now wild little toddlers! But while completely wild at home, some of them exhibit some social apprehensions. People often use the term “COVID babies” or “pandemic babies” for these kiddos who hide behind …