As a stay at home Mom, I have a few expectations of myself. All I want is a perfectly organized and clean home, healthy, balanced meals with homemade bread and the occasional dessert, 30-45 minutes a day to exercise regularly and stay in shape, the time to read to my children, spend quality time with them, and not show them too much TV, consistency in training them to be adequately-bathed, obedient lovers of Christ, a quiet time to read my own Bible daily, a regular and detailed prayer life able to cover all those who need it, to help my friends and family with dinners or housework when they’re ill, overwhelmed, or expecting/just had babies, the time and dedication to explore side means of income so I can afford to splurge a bit outside the budget, which I should strictly adhere to, the time and energy to wear makeup and be attractive (er, sexy) for my husband, to spend quality time with him, make him a hot breakfast, bring him coffee in the mornings, send him off with a goodbye kiss and healthy, well-packed lunch, remember my friends and extended family’s birthdays, have heartfelt gifts bought (or made) and sent in time, the time for a catch-up phone call or email, and maybe, just maybe, the time to make a cup of hot chai tea, read a for-fun book for myself in the evenings, and keep my toenails prettily painted.
That’s all I want. Is it really too much to ask?
I used to expect that much of myself, and it frustrated me endlessly that I was never able to do it all. I failed on a daily basis. There was just not enough time (or energy) to get everything done I felt needed doing.
Then a more experienced Mom from church gave me these comforting words and I’ve clung to them ever since. “It was God who gave you only so many hours in a day. Who are you to expect more out of yourself than God does?”
Now, this post isn’t meant to be a ‘It’s impossible to do it all so just quit trying’ lecture. On the contrary, I think we Moms have a responsibility to strive for better organization and efficiency so we might do the best with what we’ve been given. And that’s the core of it. Do the BEST you can with the time and responsibilities you’ve been given. If you feel like you’ve not been giving your best, then suck it up, repent of the laziness or apathy that’s been holding you back and do better. But if you’re honestly doing your best, leave the rest to God and quit judging yourself where God does not. God never says “Shame on you for not exercising today” or “Shame on you for serving store-bought bread rolls”. So quit saying that to yourself.
Let’s face it. We Moms have a lot on our plate. Often our expectations of ourselves are higher than our capabilities. Luckily, we are not in this alone, and God has promised to make up the slack. He shows His strength in our weakness after all.
Onto some practical ways of overcoming Mom Guilt:
Start off your day with God. I’m not talking about a 45 minute prayer time here, just seek him first, even if it’s only a 2 minute plea for guidance (or mercy!). Secondly, move onto your husband and children. Serve their emotional and physical needs first before moving onto your home or ministering to those outside the home.
2) You don’t have to do everything every day.
Perhaps daily exercising isn’t going to happen. Aim for twice a week and if you only make it once, just try better next time.
3) Start each day with a clean slate.
You wrote yourself a to-do-list. You were supposed to Vacuum on Monday, Dust on Tuesday, and Mop on Wednesday and now it’s Thursday, you haven’t done any of that and you’re behind. So you’ve decided to do it ALL! But if it’s going to add unnecessary stress, be merciful to yourself. Just drop it. Do Thursday’s chores and start again next week.
4) Realize the kids don’t need 100% of your attention all the time.
Sure, they’re your most important charge, but if you’ve already spent some quality time with them today, it’s perfectly fine for them to play on their own a bit (even if they don’t want to) while you do dishes. In addition to being a mother, you’re also a wife, friend, and caretaker of your home. Your priorities should be in the right place, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everything else in favor of the most important.
So be encouraged, fellow mommies. You’re doing a good work. Let us learn to do it well, but remember to judge ourselves by God’s standards and not our own.