Real moms share: The hardest part about being a mom and how I cope
Being a mom is an amazing experience full of joys and triumphs -- but it's not without its challenges. We talked to several women to learn about the hardest part of being a mom and how they cope.
Many moms struggle with guilt: Guilt for going back to work, guilt for leaving the kids with a babysitter, guilt for not being able to afford private school... the list goes on and on. Much of this guilt comes from having unrealistic expectations of ourselves. No person can be everything to everyone every second of every day.
"The hardest part for me about being a mom is the guilt," says Chicago mom Lisa Steinke. "Even though I told myself I would never be a guilty mom, that whole idea flew out the window the second I gave birth. I work from home and see my 14-month-old a lot, but I still have a nanny who comes each day to help care for her when I'm writing. Even though the nanny is wonderful, I feel guilty that I'm not the one singing songs with her, taking her to the park, etc.
"The way I cope is I remind myself that writing is my passion, and as my daughter gets older she will benefit from seeing me do something with my life that I absolutely love. She will understand that to be the best mother I can, I have to have balance, which will mean I won't be with her all of the time."
If you are struggling with guilt, think about whether your worries stem from unrealistic expectations of yourself, or if you can actually make changes to better the situation. If you are being unreasonable, you need to learn to let it go and move forward. However, if your guilt is coming from something important that you can change, don't waste time worrying about it -- instead, do something about it.
Finding "me time"
When you're a mom, it's easy to put the needs of your children before your own. However, if you don't make time for yourself, you'll eventually end up stressed out, worn down and unhealthy. Several moms we talked to find it increasingly difficult to find "me time."
"For me, the hardest part of being a mom is making time for myself," says Laura Willard, San Diego mom of two. "And to be completely honest, I haven't figured out how to do it yet -- four years in!"
If you can't be good to yourself, you aren't going to be in any kind of physical, emotional or mental shape to be good to your family. Read about how you can carve out a little "me time" for yourself.
For many women, the hardest part about being a mom is protecting their children without going overboard.
"I sometimes become consumed with worry about very unlikely scenarios, such as my kids getting abducted from school or a grocery store parking lot," says Veronica Garcia, Texas attorney and mother of three boys. "I find myself wanting to sit in my car outside the school all day just to make sure that they aren't in danger. A few years ago, I vowed that my kids would never play sports because I worried they'd get hurt on the field or molested in the locker room.
"I cope by talking a lot to my husband and mom. They let me know when I'm being ridiculous. I know that I need to learn to let go a little bit. I don't want to be a total helicopter parent. I am learning to trust that I've put my kids in safe situations around responsible people and have armed them with the tools they need to survive and thrive."
Watch this video where Dr. Robyn Silverman offers advice about when overprotective, helicopter parents need to back off.
Life vs. fiction
Want more? Check out two great reads in the new SheKnows Book Lounge by bestselling author Lisa Scottoline: Come Home and Save Me. Two riveting novels about the extraordinary lengths mothers will go to for their children. Head to our new SheKnows Book Lounge now.