Being a mom is hard work, isn’t it? There are so many responsibilities, choices, and expectations. Something that has really hit home with me over the past few years is the importance of having friends who are encouraging, uplifting, and supportive — and being that friend in return.
Perhaps you belong to a moms’ group, or you have regular play dates with friends. Maybe you go walking once a week with your neighbor and her baby, and you chat about parenting while pushing the strollers around the neighborhood. And what about all of those other times you chat with strangers, perhaps at the playground or from your kid’s preschool class?
We’ve all been in situations where another mom is making the rest of us feel inadequate, whether or not it’s on purpose. Perhaps her kids are always dressed perfectly, she never forgets to pack snacks (they’re even homemade and organic…), and she always seem to have it together. Or maybe it’s someone who is always asking you loaded questions, like “So does Landon know his ABC’s yet? Michael has known them for months, now.” However it’s presented, I think that a lot of interactions between moms can be downright discouraging and even competitive at times.
As moms, we need to see each other as colleagues and as allies in parenthood. If we operate on little islands and don’t stop to help each other, we are missing out. Motherhood is a common bond we share, and it’s something to take seriously. Here are 10 things to consider when it comes to encouraging other moms — and guarding ourselves against discouragement.
- None of us really know what we’re doing. Motherhood isn’t something we learn the first time around and then practice perfectly from then on. We are all trying our best, we all love our kids, and we all have different strengths. Just because someone looks like they have it all together does not mean that they actually do. Don’t worry if another mom seems like she knows exactly what she’s doing — she may actually be looking at you and feeling the same insecurity about her own self.
- Do not compare yourself to another mom. Be the best mom you can be with your children, and strive for your own personal best. It’s perfectly reasonable to get ideas and advice from other moms, but do not compare yourself to anyone else. Just because they rented a moon bounce and hosted a huge birthday party for their daughter doesn’t mean you’re “not as good of a mom” because you simply had pizza with the grandparents.
- If things are going well for you but another mom is struggling, don’t flaunt it. Some kids are late walkers, late talkers, or have behavioral issues. If you happen to be a mom who is having an easy time at the moment, just consider who you share your success stories with. If your two year old is saying her ABC’s and your friend is struggling because her two year old is barely talking, save your good news for the grandparents.
- Don’t try to impress other moms. If you are hosting play date [http://momscheatsheet.com/2009/09/08/why-you-should-not-clean-your-house/], don’t go overboard. Waking up early to make homemade muffins and clean your house from top to bottom isn’t going to do anyone any favors. Sure, tidy up and set out a snack, but consider what you are doing and why you are doing it. Be the best mom you can to your children, but don’t worry about looking like the best mom to your friends.
- When you see another mom who needs help, HELP THEM. There is always that one mom in the grocery store who is having a hard time. Offer to help her put her groceries on the conveyor belt or into her trunk if she has a crying baby or is having a hard time with a toddler. Treat another mom like you would if you saw your friend at the grocery store, and offer to lend a hand. Even if they say no thanks, your offer may have made a difference in their day.
- Don’t judge other moms. Fight the urge to say in your mind (“I would never let my kid scream like that!). Instead, try a few encouraging words. Even stopping to say, “Oh, hang in there — toddlers are tough! I have one at home,” will make a difference to her.
- Remember the Golden Rule. Enough said.
- It all evens out. Just as soon as you think you’re doing something better than someone else or have it more together, something will happen to even things out. Don’t get cocky or proud, because whatever is going on right now may pass before you know it. Perhaps your is kid behaving like an angel at play group, and you also have the time to shower and put on makeup everyday before you leave the house. Don’t look down on the exhausted mom in sweatpants whose kid is running around yelling at everyone during play group. Next week, you may be the one needing a shower and a visit from Super Nanny.
- Go out of your way to reach out to another mom. If your friend hasn’t slept in weeks because of her newborn, offer to go watch the baby while she naps. Deliver a meal to a mom whose family is sick. Suggest having your friend’s kids come over and watch a movie for the evening so she and her husband can go out to dinner. Pay attention to the struggles of the other moms around you, and do what you can to help.
- Set a good example for your kids. Teach them to give to others, focus on the needs of their friends, and to treat everyone with respect. By seeing your kindness to other moms, they will not only realize what an awesome mom they have, but they will learn valuable life lessons.
If you have a free moment today, consider giving a friend a call or sending an email to someone you know. Let them know they are a great mom, and you were just thinking about them and wanted to see how they are doing. It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day and lift their spirits.