Do you spend your days (maybe pre-pandemic) running from one activity to another with your kids? Playdates, tutors, sports, music lessons, one right after the other. Until you get home and realize you never planned dinner and the kids still have homework and you’re all exhausted? Then you remember that after dinner, you or your partner are running back out the door to attend one of your own commitments at church or school or somewhere? And it feels like it’s never enough.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Are you happy never really being present and with being exhausted all the time?
Do you do it because you feel you need to?
Because you’re so busy you’ve never taken the time to think about why you’re doing all of this?
Time studies show that working moms spend as much time with their kids each week as stay-at-home moms in the 1960s. And SAHM’s spend more time with the kids now than in the 1960s.
(I will pause here and say, all moms work, whether they have a paying job in addition to child-rearing or not. For the sake of this discussion, working moms are those who have a paying job. And SAHM’s are full-time stay-at-home-moms.)
And, no matter what we’re doing outside of parenting, society tells us it’s never enough. It starts with mommy and me classes (why dads aren’t included here is a topic I’ll get into soon). Then all the afterschool activities and the intensive help with homework and school projects.
And it intensifies as kids get closer to college age. We’re conditioned to believe that our kids must get into the best colleges or they won’t be successful in life. Heaven forbid they want to go to the local community college or try something different with their lives. That’s not ok. We’ll look like failures as a mother.
And, to be a good mother, we must be on the PTA, attending all activities that we possibly can, volunteering in the classroom, and bringing homemade goodies anytime food was required.
I volunteered once in my kids’ preschool and decided that it was not for me. I did volunteer a few times during my oldest’s kindergarten and first-grade years. And I left the PTA because I think schools shouldn’t have to fundraise and it just creates even more distance between wealthy and low-income schools (also a topic for another time). And I’m not going to feel guilty about any of it.
If you want to volunteer for these things and it works with your schedule, then do it. If it doesn’t, then let it go and don’t feel bad about it. Society needs all types of people to function. We cannot be all things to all people.
On one hand, many articles (mostly in the 80s and 90s) came out telling mothers they were abandoning their kids by going to work. That this was going to be the downfall of society because moms were working outside of the home and not home raising kids and taking care of the house.
At the same time, time studies were showing that mothers were spending more time with their kids than previous generations.
So our society is built on this myth that moms must spend all their time enriching their kids’ lives.
And as mothers starting working outside the home, they started sacrificing sleep, self-care, and their sanity to spend as much time as possible with their kids.
And feeling guilty about the whole thing because they feel like they’re failing no matter what they’re doing!
Let’s all admit that this is hard. Parenthood doesn’t come with a guide. We’re doing the best we can with the resources we can. Whether you work outside the home, stay at home, work part-time, have no choice for either one, or fully choose it, let’s all support each other in this.
If you don’t want to volunteer on the PTA or in the classroom, don’t. If that’s your jam, then do it. Let’s be aware of these myths society is selling us and know that we’re all just doing the best we can.
These are all things we talk about in my virtual community, Chaos Contained. If you want to dive into this topic more, come join us!
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