Give yourself grace. As a mom, I’ve heard this advice more than a few times. In fact, I just gave this guidance to a new mom of two struggling to get dinner on the table with her newborn and toddler in the mix. I told her this phase is about survival and “giving yourself grace” right now is important. Of course, just like all advice, it’s much easier said than done.
THE INTENTION IS THERE
The intention is there. When you feel like your day is unraveling or you’ve been hard on yourself for whatever reason, “giving yourself grace” is about giving yourself that kindness you often deserve. Sounds awesome. The type of thing you’d want your best friend to do for herself because you don’t want to see her breakdown. So why is giving yourself grace so damn hard?
Unfortunately, when a tired, exhausted, sick, hormonal, pregnant, anxious, lonely, depressed, or overwhelmed mom is given this sound piece of advice, all they hear is “let things go” which some of us just can’t do. It’s not in our mom DNA. It’s against our personality, our natural instincts, or our routines that keep us sane.
Moms push themselves. We go without for the sake of our children. We attribute our children’s overall happiness, success, and well-being to ourselves. If they’re doing great, we must be doing something right; We give ourselves a quick pat on the back. If they aren’t doing well, we are relentlessly hard on ourselves. We assume we have no clue what we’re doing and must suck at this whole “mom thing”.
Can we do everything right? No. Are we perfect? No. But we want to be. This is the opportune time to give ourselves grace. Yet, most of the time we choose not to.
We look for what we can do to keep things in our control. We try to make balanced meals. We pride ourselves on a clean home. We plan activities and create schedules for our families. But, when we are going through a tough time, the things that are typically within our control, seem to unravel. Even though this is when we need to be kind to ourselves, or “let things go”, we can’t… or we have to work really really hard to.
When I was teaching, I lived by a certain standard. I prided myself off of a clean classroom environment that usually ran efficiently and effectively. It was organized. I wanted it to be my happy place since I spent more hours there than I did at my own home. I also had a rule for myself: always leave the classroom spotless before closing up for the day. Loose papers were filed, floors were picked up, whiteboard erased, tables and chairs bleached. Why? Because I believed each day was a fresh start for both my students and myself.
WHY GIVING YOURSELF GRACE IS SO DAMN HARD
Now that I am a stay at home mom, my house is my work environment, and I hold myself to the same standards and beliefs. Then, all of a sudden, I added another child into the mix, and the goals I set for my everyday life became much more difficult to achieve. With that, my happiness and comfortability began to deteriorate. This is when I started to hear “give yourself grace”, “don’t be so hard on yourself”, “dishes can wait”. All these things are so true! I needed to hear them, but I can’t be expected to change who I am or what I’ve always done within a matter of days.
I get that when we’re in survival mode, you do what you need to in order to make it through the day. But, for those of us that strive for perfection, who equate our happiness to our homes, who want to be the best- “giving yourself grace” may be more stressful than just getting it done. At what point am I happier if I just push myself?
CAN DISHES REALLY WAIT?
Can dishes really wait? Is it more stressful to not have the pan you need for dinner or a clean sippy cup ready for your son, than it is to take the time, you don’t exactly have, to clean them?
Is a heaping pile of laundry you chose to give yourself some grace over becoming more of a nuisance when those comfy pajama pants you love to wear are dirty or your child has no matching socks?
Can we really afford take out every night or should I zap frozen meals for the next three months while my newborn baby won’t sleep? Is accepting the mom guilt over my toddler not getting a balanced diet easier than just prepping meals when I should be catching up on sleep instead?
Is plopping my kid in front of the TV only to become an irritable child zombie easier than pushing myself to leave the house with my two kids on a day I should be getting over a cold?
To be honest, I’m not sure of the answer to my questions. Seeing dishes pile up, laundry not being folded, food not being cooked, and children not being engaged makes me feel irritable, stressed, and inadequate. That’s why giving yourself grace is so damn hard. And, as a mom, it’s near impossible.
THE DOS AND DONTS OF GIVING YOURSELF GRACE
From here on out, rather than give this arbitrary advice I’m going to say things like:
- Please don’t be that hard on yourself
- You’re doing the best you can right now, and that’s what matters
- Let’s prioritize
- Let me help you
- What would you say to your best friend if she was going through this
- Let me help you
If you are currently in this situation, try some of these things:
- Set small goals to achieve this week by cooking 2-3 meals or leaving the house only on Tuesdays or Thursdays
- Clean up toys only before bed instead of throughout the day
- Ask for help from loved ones and/or friends
- Choose one task over the other
- Decide what your non-negotiables are when it comes to housework
- Brainstorm ways to make it easier on yourself
What does giving yourself grace mean to you? Comment below.