It seems like being a mother in 2019 is more stressful and wearing on US moms more than ever before. We are women who want to do it all and do it all well…and struggle when we can’t meet the demands that pull from all directions. No wonder we have a rise of education about maternal mental health, therapy services, and self care practices- moms need it.
But why is mothering so stressful these days? Specifically for women in the USA?
Here are 3 big main factors that contribute to the stress of being a modern-day mom:
- The pressures and desires to work– There’s a rise of modern moms wanting and needing to work, either full-time or part-time, in order to provide for their families or because they simply love what they do. Because of this, finding a “balance” between being a great employee or business owner while also spending ample time with the kids is placing pressures on moms that most men don’t face. If we work too much or are too devoted to our job, then we are not good enough mothers. If we spend too much time with our kids or need work time to handle family matters, then we are considered poor employees or our work suffers. This creates a lose-lose situation most of the time for moms in the workplace, who genuinely care about and want to commit to both. We want to be great nurturers for our children but also need to prove ourselves in the workplace. The dichotomy of being a present, gracious mom and a strong, determined worker makes moms feel pressure like never before.
- The constant influx of information – We have more access to more information than ever! We carry around the internet and multiple modes of communication with us in our back pockets daily, and are accessible 24/7 because of this. While this can be a blessing in motherhood, it can also add so much information overload in a season where we want to try to do the best for our families. Whereas before we may have checked out a book in the library occasionally on sleep training, nutrition for kids, and discipline, now we can google these topics and find hundreds of tips, tricks, and opposing information within seconds. What do we do with it all? How do we process it? How do we know what information is the right information? We don’t…and it can be adding stress and confusion where we need clarity and peace.
- The pressures of social media—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, you name it, can also be a blessing and a curse. We are connected and learning from others, but we are also putting our lives on display for people to see and critique. Most women can’t pose thoughts or concerns about mothering challenges anymore without people giving their 2 cents, opinions, and even shaming inputs. Social media has suddenly allowed people to say to others what they would never tell them to their face- mothers getting the brunt of this with parenting shame. This places new pressure on modern women to portray a picture-perfect life, kids, and parenting in order to self-protect and be seen as worthy.
So how do we combat this and become moms who are not overly stressed by the demands we face today?
- Remember it is not your fault- our kids will be okay regardless of our work schedules, but we forget that so easily when they face struggles. The truth is it is not all on us, we don’t have to run ourselves to the ground and just try harder. Our kids are more resilient than we think, they love us more than we think, and our work can easily move forward without us more than we think. It can start with us choosing to have self-compassion, grace, and truth to connect us to the bigger picture- what we can do is enough.
- Community and connection– In addition to the stresses we now face, we also are more disconnected and alone than ever. Moms need each other for support, advice, wisdom, and connection. We need to have a place where it’s okay to be messy and ask for help without guilt or shame. When we have a community of people that allow the pressures we face to come off, it is freeing for moms and can give so much peace.
- Authenticity and vulnerability– The best way to combat the pressure to be picture-perfect is to instead be authentic and real, in authentic and real relationships. Authenticity and vulnerability allow us to accept that we are human, and that we actually don’t have to strive to do it all and do it well. It helps us communicate the pressures we’re facing and see what’s real, what’s not, and what we can remove from our plates when they no longer serve us or our families.