Last week one of my friends (a new mom) recommended an article about how parenting became a full-time job and why that is bad for women. And that made me think about how being a mom indeed requires you to be “on” round the clock and that it can be quite challenging with the pressure that society puts on parenting (and probably we do it to ourselves as well) to pursue any other passions (work, hobbies, sports) as well as we would want to since we´re supposed to be on top of everything. Developmental leaps, crafty stuff, homemade organic food, mommy-and-me classes, the best toys and products… do we still have (enough) time for ourselves?
Is it true that as parents we are supposed to juggle making baby food, breastfeeding vs formula debates, researching the best car seats, organic cotton clothes and bedsheets, no chemicals cleaning products because it´s bad for our babies, mommy-and-me gym classes, baby massages, choosing the right toys or music to stimulate our babies development, and teaching them Chinese because that´s the future? Or do we put that pressure on ourselves and the people around us?
What happened to listening to your gut?
Before I became a mom I actually didn´t do much reading on parenting styles or developmental leaps or whatsoever. I figured the best we could do was going by our gut, wasn´t that how parents everywhere have always done it? However, I soon realized that this was not the norm anymore. We are supposed to do our research and read the hundreds of parenting books out there, the advice of which is usually contradicting. Co-sleeping is great for kids, co-sleeping is bad for kids. Sleep techniques, eat techniques, separation techniques and disciplinary techniques. Buying a stroller or a new car seat often requires a whole master because there is so much info out there. Basically, the main message of every parenting book is that if you do A and B, the outcome will be that your kid will be or do C. As if they are machines and you can control everything. Which then makes it extra frustrating if they don´t behave like the machine and are not or do not do C.
The dangerous impact of our actions on child development
Also mentioned in that article was something I think every mom can relate to, where every single one of our moves, even the most standard ones, is analyzed into great detail by the people around us (or the people online) together with a judgmental conclusion about the outcome of our actions and implications for our child´s development. Speaking of pressure…
Instagram / Pinterest moms
Then there are the picture perfect birthday parties where every plate and snack is matching the balloons and the confetti and the rest of the decoration. The most beautiful Easter baskets that we are supposed to make and Valentine´s crafts that could also belong to a museum. Or the treats you bring to school on your kid´s birthday, I might have brought a box of raisins, a simple cake or some crisps to treat the class when I was young, nowadays moms seem to be going all out and come up with the most elaborate homemade fruit pizza´s (because it needs to be healthy) or the Brooklyn bridge made from homemade muesli biscuits. Again, speaking of pressure… Because obviously, you will feel like a complete failure when your child is not bringing this impressive construction treat to school.
But seriously, if I am supposed to mother full-time (and not a 40h work week, round the clock) and I also have a full-time job, is it bad that instead of crafting Easter baskets or throwing perfectly coordinated birthday parties, I prefer to have some time for me, to meet with friends, go out for dinner or to work out (just mommy, not mommy-and-me)? Because apparently being a good mother according to the latest standards actually can´t really be combined with any other job without losing your sanity.
An Instagram / Pinterest fail mom