Motherhood is hard.
And it’s made even harder when we’re constantly comparing ourselves to other moms and feeling guilty or judged for making certain choices.
Like losing your cool in the middle of aisle 3 and screaming at your tantruming 4 year old to “Get. Off. The. Floor. NOW!”
Skipping brushing your kiddo’s teeth and putting them straight into bed because you’re just done.
Or putting your toddler in front of the TV so you can get a workout in (and then leaving them there so you can also get in a shower too).
Motherhood can feel like a revolving door of guilt, shame and judgment.
And it’s not just you.
According to one study out of England, a majority of moms don’t exercise because they feel guilty for taking time away from their kiddos (which I assume at least partially comes from a place of feeling like they’d be judged as being a “bad mom” for putting their own needs first).
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You’re allowed to put your needs first.
You’re allowed to not let those guilty feelings, and judgy assumptions ruin your day.
You simply need to remember these 3 truths…
You’re in charge of how you feel.
While it may be hard to completely let go of feeling judged by other people, you need to remember that – whether they’re actually judging you or not – their opinion of you isn’t your problem.
Their judgment doesn’t need to define you.
You can make a choice to either let it infect you and make you feel like a “bad mom”, or you can choose to shrug it off and remind yourself that putting your needs first is okay.
Because your needs matter.
I know this is so much easier said than done, but something that can really help is a lesson I learned from Brené Brown.
When you feel judged, you can stop what you’re thinking – stop the painful spiral that you’re tumbling into – and finish this simple sentence…
“The story I’m telling myself is ____________________ .”
And then follow that up with some good old Byron Katie-like questioning by asking yourself…
“Is that true? Can I know that it’s 100% true?”
So, say for example you’re dropping your kid off at the the gym daycare, they’re crying but you know they’ll be okay in a couple minutes, so you leave them in the caring arms of the daycare worker and head to the locker room.
On the way out of the daycare room you lock eyes with another woman coming into the gym and feel like she’s giving you a, “Wow! You’re just gonna leave your kid in their screaming? What a terrible mom!” look.
So at this point you’d say to yourself, “The story I’m telling myself is that this woman is judging me for leaving my kid in the daycare screaming. And she thinks I’m a horrible mom.”
Then follow it up with the questions…
“Is that true?”
“I’m not sure…”
“Can I know that it’s 100% true?”
“Well, no. I guess not. I actually have no idea what she’s thinking. Maybe she’s remembering last week when she dropped her own kid off at daycare and he started screaming and she’s feeling upset again because it’s triggering that memory and making her feel bad. Or maybe she doesn’t even know that it’s my kid screaming and she’s thinking about something else entirely. Who knows?!”
When we get clear on the stories we tell ourselves and question whether they’re actually true, we tend to realize that the judgments we feel other people are making are actually the judgments we’re making of ourselves.
Unless someone straight up is saying “You’re a bad mom for leaving your kid in that daycare” you actually have no idea what they’re truly thinking.
So let those stories go.
What’s right for you, may not be right for them.
You also want to remember that everyone – every mom – has free will to choose what works for her.
And the choices you make may not be the choices another mom would make.
Or the choices another mom makes may not be the choices you would make.
And at the end of the day we all just need to remember that we’re doing the best we can. In this moment. Right now.
Are we perfect?
Do we have to be?
And honestly how boring would it be if we all thought the same, did the same, and mothered the same?
Your priorities aren’t the same as another mom’s priorities.
And that’s okay.
Yes. Sometimes you may get some judgy comments or feel like you’re getting those judgy looks (like the snarky side-eye by the woman over at table 5 who seems to be peeved that your kid is throwing mac and cheese on the floor while yelling “I want chocolate milk!!!”).
So you gotta keep reminding yourself that you know you and your life and your kid best, and you’re making the best decisions you can.
It’s easy to see things from an outsider’s perspective and say “She should have…” or “I’d never…”
But the truth is that telling someone how to live their life is so much easier than actually living that life.
And while it may seem like everyone else is doing everything perfectly.
Every mom is doing the best she can with what she has.
And every mom is allowed to make the choices that feel right for her.
To me that means putting on the TV and getting my workouts in because I feel so much better in my body when I do.
Will I be judged?
Yes. I’m sure I will be.
But that’s okay.
Because those moms aren’t living my life. They don’t get to decide what’s best for me.
What’s right for them, isn’t always what’s right for me.
What’s right for them, isn’t always what’s right for you.
You’re an awesome role model.
Lastly, when you feel judged for putting your needs first – like turning on the TV so you can get a workout in – remember that you’re setting boundaries and leading by example.
You’re showing your kids that you deserve to feel good. That your needs matter just as much as theirs do.
And you’re helping them by role modeling healthy boundaries.
You’re saying “I love you. I love to spend time with you. And I also need my own space and own life beyond you.”
All of these are super powerful lessons that teach your kids that they don’t need to constantly sacrifice their own needs in order to make someone else happy.
You’re teaching them that it’s okay to put yourself first and you’re helping them learn to be okay with the fact that they may be your world, but they’re not your entire world.
There’s more to you than being a mom.
And you’re allowed to have a life beyond being someone’s mom.
It’s okay to make that clear to your kiddo.
You’re not neglecting your children (you wouldn’t be reading this if you were).
You deeply care about them.
And it shows.
It’s okay to not be the perfect supermom all day everyday. Take off your cape, cut yourself some slack, and take care of your own needs for once.
And while feeling judged for being a “bad mom” can be very real, and very nasty, remember that you’re in charge of how you feel, what’s right for another mom may not be right for you, and you’re actually modelling healthy behaviour by putting your own needs first.
So go put on the TV and get a workout in.
There won’t be any judgment from me 😉
P.S. Have a friend who’s constantly worried about other moms judging her? Send her this post.