Want to hear something funny?
When I first became a stay at home mom I was all about being June Cleaver. I baked regularly, the house was clean, and I cooked dinner almost every night! And I thought this was not only reasonable to maintain but also reasonable for my spouse to expect of me.
Then my children became mobile.
(insert laughter here)
It is easy to be the quintessential 1950’s housewife when your children don’t do anything but lay on a blanket batting at toys like a hairless cat. It is damn near impossible once those babies begin moving and exploring their surroundings.
I take leave here to say that it may be more possible when you have just one child but when you have twins or two young children, too young to understand that pulling on mommy when she’s weilding a cleaver isn’t a good idea, it is unrealistic to expect a mom to perform the standard expected activities of momming in the 21st century AND be the 1950’s housewife who cooked and cleaned to perfection.
It was a huge shift for me. Considering that some research shows that stay at home moms work the equivalent to two and half full time jobs, it is logically unreasonable to also expect them to do 100% of the cooking and cleaning and house maintenance. It doesn’t stop the mom guilt that you’re feeling though.
30 plus years ago it was good parenting to make sure your kid was in a safe space, typically a playpen or high chair, had a few toys and was plunked in front of the TV. You were then free to cook and clean to your heart’s content.
In the 21st century you need to cook organic, clean using homemade cleaning products, play with your kids, read to them, do crafts, do educational activities, have them in activities like mommy and me, do playdates, take them on walks, have supervised outside time, and essentially be there to curate and orchestrate their entire days from wake up to bedtime.
The problem with this is two fold. First we are raising an entire generation of kids that are incapable of entertaining themselves. There is nothing wrong with letting your kids experience things for themselves in a semi-controlled environment. Kids need to learn that being bored isn’t the end of the world.
Second we are putting expectations on moms that are unhealthy and unrealistic. When I became a mom I was told often, by other mothers, that taking time for yourself is selfish. Putting your marriage first is selfish. And not having your kids be your one and only is selfish. None of these expectations are realistic or healthy.
In addition to being home, many moms like myself are solopreneurs. We run our own businesses that take time and effort. These ventures are often our main means of feeling accomplished and like we’re contributing. We use the income from these efforts to pay for the things we do for ourselves or preschool or activities. We try to do it all and fail miserably.
The failing isn’t the point though, the point is that we need to stop expecting things that are destructive. It is destructive to expect moms, working or SAHM, to be solely responsible for the home and child care. It is destructive to shame moms who are almost all just trying their best. And it is destructive to set standards that she always put herself last.
So, moms out there: take some freaking time for yourself. What do you do for self care?