This parenting gig is tough. I mean, super tough. But do you know what makes it even tougher? Feeling like everyone else is doing it better than you. But don’t worry! Here are 5 ways to stop comparing yourself to what other mothers are doing – and start loving what you’re doing.
I’m sure you know the feeling, mama. Everyone else’s kids seem to sleep better, eat better, behave better. Your sister’s two year old can fold napkins into paper swans, and the boy in your daughter’s class is almost in the Olympic team. Then there’s your kid, who didn’t eat anything off the floor today – clearly a major victory.
Why do we need to stop comparing ourselves?
Have you ever heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy”? Well, it’s true! Comparing your life to others causes you to lose sight of the wonderful things you’re doing. It’s not your fault – humans are hardwired to focus on what we’re missing out on, to focus on the negatives. And unfortunately, the more we look for what we’re missing out on, the more we find – and the less we notice what we do have.
So. How do you stop comparing your parenting, your kids… or heck, your entire life?
Spend time each day focusing on what you’re getting right
As mentioned above, when we focus on negatives, we tend to seek out more negatives. This is called confirmation bias: our brains look for signs to confirm what we already believe. The best way to combat this is – you guessed it – focusing on the positives. Different people do this in different ways. Some choose to write a list at the end of the day of things that went well; others are content with thinking about it. For more tips on how to change your mindset, check out my post about being kind to yourself. It doesn’t matter what method you use; just choose a way that works for you and your routine, and be proud of all the amazing things you’re doing with your kids.
Limit your social media
In this super-connected world we live in, we’re often bombarded with everyone else’s triumphs. When people share their successes (or at least portray successes), it’s easy to think that’s what their life is like. It’s not. What you’re seeing is the very select, specific part of their life that they’re choosing to show the world. It’s hardly ever a complete reflection of what their life is actually like. Unfortunately, when we continually expose ourselves via social media, it’s really hard to stop comparing what we’re seeing in others’ lives to what we’re experiencing in our own. Having regular social media holidays can help break this habit – and will probably free up a lot of time, amiright?
Water your proverbial grass
Looking at what others do to inspire yourself is fine; obsessing over not being as good as them is not. If there are aspects that you really do feel could be better, then take steps to improve them. Spending time pining over how green someone else’s grass is will not make yours any greener! All it will do is make you feel miserable. Direct your energy towards getting to where you want to be – don’t waste it feeling upset that you aren’t there yet.
Remember that all kids are different
Different children have different qualities – and different needs. Yes, other kids might be better readers than yours; but it’s almost guaranteed that your child will trump them in a different area. Even children with the same parents can be different! And that’s just as they are now; as kids grow, they develop, and they change. They learn new skills, behaviours, mannerisms. Who they are now isn’t who they’ll be as adults. Comparing children isn’t an accurate or reliable rating system for your parenting skills.
Talk to other parents – honestly
When you share your struggles with others, wonderful things can happen. Being authentic and vulnerable in your interactions can lead to others opening up. This means you begin to see what goes on in their lives behind the scenes. You may find that other parents are facing the same struggles as you – which is more common than it feels sometimes! If you’re struggling to meet new mama friends, try some of the suggestions from this post.
Comparing yourself to others is common – but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing! After a while, you may develop a critical and negative perspective on your own life. This then overshadows all the wonderful parts of parenting, which isn’t good for anyone! Try out these tips to stop comparing – and start enjoying parenthood again.
Is comparison robbing you of joy? How do you combat it?
Until next time,