“Comparison is the thief of joy.” These wise words spoken by Theodore Roosevelt are especially true if you are a parent in 2021. Although technology, the internet and social media have many perks, we now have a window into everyone’s life, and we often, unintentionally, use it to benchmark our self-worth as moms. It is natural, as parents, to want to ensure we are doing our best for our kids, and we often use experiences and tips from other parents as tools to help us navigate the deep waters of motherhood. But there is a fine line between wanting to learn from others and unhealthy comparison, and we often forget that things aren’t always how they seem. Here are a few ways to break the habit of comparing yourself with other moms.
Catch yourself doing it
The first step to breaking a bad habit is recognizing that we are doing it in the first place. Notice what triggers your comparison behaviour and what thoughts race through your mind when it happens. Does it creep up while you scroll through your Instagram feed or when you see other moms at the park that seem to have it all figured out? Next time it happens, ask yourself the following:
- What am I feeling and why?
- Do I have the whole picture of this person’s reality?
- Can I replace my thoughts of comparison with empathy either for myself or this other mom? Can I be happy for this person rather than jealous?
Without judgement, sit with your answers and go deeper to find where these feelings might be coming from.
Remember that every child (and mom) is unique
As moms, we are each doing our best to tend to the unique needs of our children. By comparing behaviour or milestones, we forget to look at the singular needs of our kids. Our experiences as parents are as varied as these tiny humans in our care, and comparing them to each other is like trying to fit them in a box. We don’t want that for them and therefore should not inflict it on ourselves either. Trust that you know what is best for your child, and do not let others cloud your judgement.
Limit social media
Do you post your child’s meltdown to your Instagram stories? I didn’t think so. Most of what we see on social media has been selected, curated and polished before sharing with the world. If you compare your favourite bloggers’ (seemingly), picture-perfect family, to your wildlings currently running around the house in their underwear, you aren’t being fair to yourself. Keep this in mind before you beat yourself up. If this is a trigger for you, avoid spending too much time on your feed and unfollow the accounts or groups that leave you feeling less than enough. Replace them with positive content that inspires and motivates you.
Have compassion; for yourself and your fellow mom
Seeing someone that seems to have it all figured out when we are barely hanging on can bring up feelings of self-doubt in our abilities, but the truth is we don’t have the whole picture. Because no one has 24/7 access to the lives of others, what you are comparing yourself to is just a snippet of this other person’s reality. An ideal. Remember this: you are doing your best. Be true to who you are and your priorities as a mom, and have compassion for yourself. We tend to be our own harshest critics and the voice that chimes in the loudest is the one in our head. As moms, we need to limit our negative self-talk and learn to replace it with kindness. Try talking to yourself the way you would to your child. Be your own biggest fan and be proud of your work as a mom and as a woman.
We are all different and have our own limitations and struggles. Know your truth and what works for your life and family, and don’t feel the need to justify it. Celebrate yourself as the best mom YOU can be and have compassion for others whether they are striving or struggling. Get rid of the “good mom bad mom” rhetoric and have an open mind and open heart towards yourself and other parents out there.