Kitty is a mother of two children - a tween girl and a toddler boy. She loves to share what she's learned about modern motherhood.
Modern Pressures on the Modern Mom
Society has changed immensely over the past hundred years. Heck, society has changed immensely over the past fifty and twenty years, hasn't it? We are continually evolving and expanding, learning and growing in many ways. There are more human rights for classes of people that we've never had in the past. Modern medicine is saving lives and modern technology is making our lives more convenient. We can travel by plane, car, train, boat, or whatever to get to our destinations. We can talk to someone across the world via phone or a screen in front of our faces. We can even purchase our groceries on our phones! Modern moms seem to have it all, don't they? How easy is it to purchase a box of diapers online and have it delivered to our doors? How simple is it to drop our kids off at school or daycare and head on our merry ways to work?
Ah! But with all of this growth and modern evolution comes its own set of difficulties and challenges. Just because we have modern conveniences doesn't mean our responsibilities as mothers have become less. In fact, to many of us, it seems our responsibilities have intensified. Why do we come home at night after a long day at work and want to pass out on the couch? Why are we lacking the energy or mental fortitude to read a book to our kids at night? As modern mothers, many of us are exhausted because of the modern pressures put on us. Do I sound crazy? Let's break it down in this article, and then we will discuss how we can take our power back and break away from society's expectations so that we can have a healthy and happy life as mothers.
Working or Stay-at-Home: Does It Matter?
It's funny because many working mothers will say, "gosh I wish I could stay at home with my kids". Or you often hear the opposite, "stay at home mothers have it easy" "they're lazy", etc. And in the opposite regard, you might hear from stay at home mothers that working mothers are "selfish" or "not raising their own kids" or "it must be nice to get away from the house and kids every day". We beat each other up as mothers, no matter whether we are stay-at-home or working mothers. Why do we do this to one another? We are confused, that's why! Fifty years ago, it was more common for mothers to stay at home raising their children and keeping house. In fact, many women then would frown on other women who went to work leaving their kids with others or to "fend for themselves". Then things began to change and women wanted the independence to go to work and make money, too. So we did. Fast forward to 2018, and it is almost expected for mothers to work full-time, while also doing all of the things we did fifty years ago (cleaning, raising kids, cooking, running errands, etc).
It should go without saying that mothers in 2018 are doing WAY more than mothers in 1968. Not only are we pushed to work full-time jobs, we are also pushed to raise successful, well-adjusted kids who participate in multiple extracurricular activities. Some of us are working a 8 to 10 hour day, getting off of work and running our kids around to multiple sports events and club meetings. Then somehow are expected to find time to fit in a healthy dinner for the family, help our kids with their homework, make sure everyone has clean laundry for the following day, and take care of our own health and wellbeing. You can see where the problem lies, right? There's not enough time in a day to fulfill society's demands on mothers. At least not with a sane mind. This leads us to skimp in areas that we shouldn't have to skimp on - namely our own self-care and wellbeing.
Even stay-at-home moms these days are doing more than their foremothers. We are running errands, cleaning, cooking, helping our kids with their homework, keeping a relationship going with our spouses, chauffeuring our kids around to their activities, doing laundry, and more. Not to mention all of the newer advances in medicine that require some of us to tote our special needs children around to their many appointments with doctors and therapists. Stay-at-home moms will often say they wonder how working mothers fit in actual jobs when stay-at-home moms are always so darn busy!
So does it matter whether we are stay-at-home or working mothers? Don't let societal standards push you to believe you are doing the right thing and the next mother doing the wrong. We are all trying to stay afloat with the plethora of responsibilities loaded onto our plates on a daily basis. Let's not add more pressure to one another.
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How to Take Back Our Power As Modern Mothers
The first thing we can do as modern mothers is to treat others with respect. Particularly other mothers. Be they single, married, widowed, divorced, treat other mothers with the same respect you expect. Be they working or stay-at-home, treat other mothers with respect. We all have something in common - being mothers in an ever-changing, advancing world that has managed to put more pressure on us than ever before. So let's help each other out, instead of tearing each other down, shall we? If you have a neighbor who has kids and seems overwhelmed in her duties, offer to chauffeur her kids to one of their activities. Or take them in for a sleepover. If you have a friend who's a single mom and needs a break from her kids, offer to take them to the park for a few hours to give her some much-needed self-love time. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Even if that same mother doesn't do the same for you, you are paying it forward and will be rewarded in the future.
On the topic of self-love, I've noticed many modern mothers don't do it. They don't care for themselves because they spend all their time caring for their families, jobs, friends, pets, elderly loved ones, etc. But self-love is SO important. If you don't take care of yourself, you will eventually break down and not be able to fully care for the ones you love. You will only be giving them half of what you could be, because you never stopped and took care of yourself. This doesn't mean you should neglect your duties, this means you should prioritize. Let's say you have an hour to yourself and you're at home. Forget about the laundry for a few minutes and take a relaxing bath instead. Go for a walk by yourself to clear your head. Do something you enjoy that will relax and refresh you! The laundry will still be there when you're done...trust me. I've read so many times on mom forums women that say things like "gosh, sometimes I just want to take a break and go dancing!" Know how I respond? "Do it!" Everyone deserves a life. You are giving your life to others through your caring and nurturing, but you still have a life, too! Don't neglect the life you've been given. Enjoy it. Go out dancing once every other month for crying out loud! Get a sitter for the kids and take your significant other or friends and shake that booty! Let loose! This is taking back your power from a society who tells us mothers can't have fun. Mothers can't go out. Mothers can't take care of themselves because they have to take care of everyone else instead.
I'll end on this note. If you feel forced into either working or staying at home, think about changes you can make to your life that will lift some of the stress and make you happier. Are you financially able to cut your hours down to part-time? Are you able to put the kids into daycare and work part-time if you're feeling too stir-crazy? If not, and your working (or stay-at-home) position cannot be changed at this time, remember to see the paragraph above and practice self-love. When you're feeling overwhelmed, breathe. Vent to another mother. Go outside and walk it off. Ask for a few hours to yourself. If you don't, you're just hurting yourself. Take back your power as a modern mother.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Kitty Fields
Leonie M from Belgium. on February 18, 2018:
Great tips for all mothers around the world. Thanks for sharing.
nestle02 from Florida, USA on February 15, 2018:
Great self-love mommy tips!
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 10, 2018:
I grew up in the 1940s and 1950s, the 2nd of 4 children. Each baby wore cloth diapers. Mom washed each dirty diaper, put it through the ringer, rinsed it, put it through the ringer again, rinsed it again, and hauled the basket of wet laundry up the basement stairs and outside to hang on the clothesline. Wrinkle-free clothing wasn't invented yet. My father worked in an office and needed a clean, pressed white shirt every day. School clothes, Sunday and dress-up clothes, linens, and more also had to be washed and ironed. Cooking was from scratch, by hand, with an eggbeater, whisks, a rolling pin, knives, a potato masher, etc. My mom lived till 2003 and through the years welcomed and took advantage of modern conveniences, like the Laundromat. In the early 1960s she and my dad became shopkeepers, dealing in used books. Life didn't turn less or more stressful, happy, busy, and challenging—just different. Self-care was a need in my mother's time, too, and she learned it and taught it in Alanon.