It is hard to be a relaxed mom, Motherhood can come with so much pressure to do everything right, and often the biggest source of pressure is from within. When you’re caring for an additional person (or more), there’s plenty to worry about—so much that it can become overwhelming.
As a mom of four kids, I can tell you that with each child, I’ve learned to let go a little bit. My love for my kids hasn’t decreased at all, but my need to live up to arbitrary standards has.
Parents of large families learn to let go mostly out of necessity. I bet any mom of 3 or more kids will agree that over time, you learn a lot of the things you once concerned yourself with really aren’t that important. There’s only so much time and mental energy. It forces you to prioritize. By letting go, you can be a more relaxed mom who has more left for her kids.
Had I started out my motherhood journey knowing what I know today, I would tell myself not to worry about the things in this post. Fifteen years and four kids later, it’s easier to see they just don’t matter so much. I hope sharing these realizations may help a few other moms let go and feel a little more relaxed.
Things to stop stressing about as a mom
Kids are messy. Period. You don’t have to live in filth, but you don’t have to make yourself a slave to cleaning. Being in a constant battle with mess can be so exhausting.
Can you lower your standards and be more at peace with your kid-filled environment? View your family’s messes as little signs of a well-lived life?
Stop feeling guilty that your house doesn’t look like a magazine. That’s not reality! At least not for families. Don’t apologize for your house looking lived in.
It’s OK if everything isn’t picked up. It’s good to do a little tidying each day, but it’s also OK if you need to let some mess sit for a little while to tend to more important things like yourself or your children.
If you’re tired and need to watch Netflix instead of doing the dishes one night, I won’t tell! If your baby fell asleep on you, it’s OK to just sit and enjoy it.
At my house, we all have clean clothes, but I can’t remember the last time I dusted. Oh well—my kids haven’t noticed. But they do notice if I make time to play a game with them. I’m sure I’ll get to the dusting before we host Thanksgiving.
Make things easier on yourself by decluttering your possessions (less to pick up) and choosing kid-friendly household items that are wipeable or washable.
And let your child get messy—it’s good for them!
It’s not that schedules are inherently bad. But I do think moms can become schedule obsessed.
When you have multiple kids, you learn that the ability to be flexible is a necessity for you and the children. For example, one child may need to nap in the car while you take the another to their soccer game.
I’m always shocked when moms discuss “schedules” for young babies. I don’t think babies can tell time, and clock watching for moms has got to be enough to drive them up the walls.
Related: 5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself
I go for more of a rhythm than a schedule, paying attention to a baby’s cues. It really comes down to not overthinking it. A baby’s needs can change so frequently and unexpectedly, from teething to growth spurts and more, that trying to map this to a schedule just doesn’t seem feasible.
Parenting involves giving up some control. You won’t be able to schedule everything, and that’s OK.
Over scheduled school-aged children and their moms can also suffer. Consider whether your family schedule needs some decluttering.
My kids don’t have fancy outfits. I make cutoffs from their ragged pants like it’s 1990. We rarely (OK never) remember school picture day. My daughter may be the only girl in town who has never worn a hair bow.
None of this has affected us one bit. If anything, it’s quite freeing. We’re not a picture-perfect family, nor do we aspire to be.
This goes for things like cars, your house, and even family vacations. Until recently, we drove a busted minivan with over 200,000 miles. It had no bells and whistles but a lot of memories.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Is this really something you want to spend your energy on?
By the time of a third kid, you view childhood as a way to build those little immune systems. They’re going to be exposed to so many germs from their siblings that the wider world isn’t too far off.
I’m not saying you should throw hygiene out the window. Practice good hand washing, particularly after play areas, bathroom visits, and before meals. Teach your kids to cover their coughs and sneezes. And if your house has the stomach virus, I will personally bring you a can of Lysol and some rubber gloves.
But other than that, spending too much time every day stressing about germs likely won’t do much good. Kids are going to get sick. You can’t create a sterile environment for them.
For my first kid, we debated whether to take her out in public as a young infant, carefully weighing the risks. We brought little disposable placemats everywhere we went once she started finger foods. We had a shopping cart and high chair cover that we toted around for protection.
By my fourth child, we were bringing her along to back to school night for her siblings at a few weeks old. She’s eaten directly off countless restaurant tables, and she likes to eat goldfish crackers off the kitchen floor.
She’s crawled around the library and the doctor’s office. Her pacifier is forever being dropped. She puts shared music toys in her mouth at storytime (she’s a baby!).
And you know what? She’s just fine. In fact, her first illness was a brief cold around her first birthday.
I do what I can within reason, but we’re going to live our life.
(If you have a preemie or immune-compromised child, please follow your doctor’s advice and take appropriate precautions.)
I recently told a friend about a little tantrum my kid threw, because I thought it was hilarious. It was one of those common everyday fits over nothing. She looked shocked and asked “What did you do?” I just watched, let my kid finish, and moved on.
Most often, tantrums are a normal part of child development. They aren’t a sign that you’re failing or are a terrible parent.
Some kids are more emotionally volatile than others. I know tantrums can feel bad because they cause a big scene, but try not to take them personally or let them rile you up too much.
If you have kids, you’re going to experience tantrums.
You may find some prevention or management techniques helpful, but I don’t think eliminating all tantrums is a reasonable expectation, especially during the toddler years.
If the frequency, length, or anything else about your child’s tantrums concerns you, speak with their pediatrician or a child psychologist. Otherwise, chock tantrums up to a rite of passage and document the most ridiculous ones to embarrass them when they’re older.
You don’t need anyone’s approval of your parenting. This includes your parents, strangers from the grocery store, and everyone in between.
One of the first things new moms learn to expect is unsolicited parenting advice. As time goes on, it may seem that everyone is ready to pass judgment on your parenting.
Who cares! You’re not here to please them. Put your blinders on and focus on your family’s happiness and well-being. You’re the mom, and you get to decide what’s best for your children.
Perfection is the thief of joy. You’re going to make mistakes as a parent. It’s the hardest job there is.
Being a more relaxed mom doesn’t mean you don’t care. But it does mean accepting that you’ll never be perfect.
There will be days when you yell and days when your kids have too much screen time. You’ll embarrass your child or forget something that’s important to them. It happens to all of us.
I tell my kids, “we all make mistakes.” Children are often relieved to know grown ups mess up sometimes too.
Admitting your missteps and your faults is not a weakness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Own your mistakes, learn from them, and pick your chin up. Moms are human too.
Find your inner relaxed mom
I hope this list helped you realize how to be more comfortable as a mom by stripping away concerns that don’t benefit you or your children. Let go of unnecessary worries and embrace your relaxed mom vibe.
Try starting with one or two things on this list that really resonated with you. When you feel yourself slip into worry or self-judgment about one of them, resist. Be intentional about where you focus your mental energy.
I’d love to hear if you and your family notice a difference.
About the Guest Poster
Find more from Gina on the Steps to Self blog. As a working mom of four, she’s learned the hard way the importance of self-care. Her passion is helping other moms attend to themselves and live their best life. Professional writer by day, Gina is a southern girl who loves the beach and has a serious weak spot for gummy bears.