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I was out with a friend when the discussion turned to how guilty and stressed I felt as a mom for not filling up every day of our summer break with “special activities.” She said she had felt the same pressure, especially when her kids were younger, to constantly be entertaining them or providing them with stimulating activities. The more we talked we went back to the days of our own childhood. As kids of the 80’s, we sometimes had an entire summer day that consisted of two sentences from our parents:
1. You either stay in our stay out!
2. Time to come in for a bath!
The two of us went on to finish school, graduate from college and hold leadership positions in our fields. We made it just fine without our parents filling every single day with some kind of special activity. We came up with our own special activities and (gasp) even solved some of our problems by ourselves. After that conversation, I decided I could be a much better mom if I would cut myself some slack.
Moms, we must stop trying to be everything for our kids and get rid of the guilt!
What in the world happened that we feel serious pressure to:
- Entertain and engage our kids every waking hour
- Cut their sandwiches into cool shapes
- Make sure our Elf on the Shelf does something more creative than the neighbor’s Elf on the Shelf
- Take pictures at the beach on our vacation time to plan the perfect Christmas card
- Put on a birthday party complete with coordinating cake pops
- Send monogrammed Valentine Cards! (Seriously, these came home from my son’s class… ours were the ones that came from the same ‘ol 1980’s cardboard boxes with cheesy messages.)
If these are things you want to do, by all means, that’s fine. But if you’re doing these things out of guilt or pressure, why keep doing them? “Mom” is a tough enough job without extra pressure. All of this pressure amounts to growing levels of stress and, frankly, that kind of stress robs us from simply enjoying our kids. It steals from our kids because they know when we’re stressed out and that, in turn, does more harm than good.
Moms, we must unite and cut each other some slack! We are our own worst critics. It’s time to start telling ourselves when our kids are fed, bathed, loved and encouraged that we have done a great job.