- "Doing it all" in motherhood is a myth that is being broken.
- Millennial mothers are pushing back against the desire to be "Superwoman" and learning to do less in motherhood.
- Motherhood is complex and requires an intricate network of relationships that provide support and needed community.
As a mother, I’ve learned what my range of capabilities are when it comes to parenting my children. For example, I recently tried to potty train my son. I employed the three-day potty training method, and, while it does work, it took a toll on me. I do recommend this method if you have the time and the patience. However, if you cannot commit to it for at least three days, it will frustrate even the most patient of moms. For me, it was very trying. Once the three days were over, I was tired of potty training and ready for a break. I am very glad to have made it through to the other side and with my son now being partially potty trained, his teachers are going to handle the rest.
"How are you doing all this?"
I shared this journey with my Instagram community and received a lot of messages from people in awe of how I can, “do it all.” “It all” happened to be having two young children, running my own business, and taking care of myself. I was taken aback for a few reasons. One, it makes me question if I am portraying myself and my family as “perfect.” One of many things I find important to discuss when working with mothers is transparency and vulnerability. Therefore, I am honest about what motherhood is like for me. Of course, there are a lot of great moments, but there are also a lot of moments that frustrate me to no end. I am careful about documenting both sides of this to ensure everyone knows that motherhood is full of moments that are both challenging and rewarding.
Another thing that I think about when I get these messages is that when we ask mothers how they're “doing it all,” it's because there is this expectation that they are the ones doing it all or at least should be doing it all. My husband isn't asked how he's “doing it all” in terms of potty training our son, moving into a new home, working his job, etc. They ask me these things because there is a narrative that the mother or mother-figure is the one that is responsible for all of these duties. With that, I think we have to be very careful with these questions, because mothers can easily fall into the trap of feeling like they should be “doing it all.” We are taught that it is the mother-figure who must solely be in charge of the child-rearing tasks, but it does not have to be that way. There are very high expectations placed upon us that, unfortunately, are not placed upon our male counterparts. So, to answer the question of how I “do it all,” I simply don't. During potty training, I was recovering from a cesarean section, and had a newborn in my body that required my attention. My husband did about 70 percent of the work and was the primary figure in potty training my son because we are a team. The truth is that I have someone here to help me do these things that society expects the mother should do alone.
Motherhood should never be done alone.
Even with as many advantages that women today have in comparison to the women of the past, there is still the burden of being solely responsible for your child’s upbringing. It is taught that if one cannot or decides not to “do it all,” they have failed as a mother. However, it is completely normal for a person to not be able to do everything. Needing the help of your partner, family members, or even friends to make tasks such as potty training easier is okay.
When supporting mothers in the Balanced Working Mama Community, I find that many of us feel a pressure to be the head of our household in terms of managing everything. It can feel unsettling to accept a reality where we don't have to “do it all.” Moms within our community are not learning how to do more. They instead learn a new way to do motherhood where they can do less and still feel confident as women and mothers. We teach them how to release these expectations so that they no longer define their motherhood experience by the strict guidelines society has taught them. We help mothers accept that they don't have to “do it all,” then we enlist the tools and strategies needed to get all things done.
So, the question then becomes how do we get to a place where we feel comfortable and confident in not doing it all? To start, I have compiled a list of things that allow me to delegate tasks and lessen the weight of the household on my shoulders. Once again, I have a partner who does more than his fair share around the home because he's a very engaged father, a great husband, and a good human being. With that being said, we also often outsource our help. For example, I have someone clean my home at least once a month. I use Daily Harvest to help prepare meals, and we have a laundry service that allows us to ship our laundry out to get cleaned. These are just some of the ways I’ve been able to share the household chores to make motherhood more comfortable. I also have familial support, since my husband's parents live nearby. Therefore, I truly cannot take credit for doing all things because I simply do not do all the things that keep my house functioning.
Pushing back against being "Superwoman"
As mothers, we are often made to feel guilty for not being able to take on the bulk of the responsibilities at home while still being functional human beings. Knowing this, I managed to figure out ways that help me feel comfortable with not being my family’s personal Superwoman.
To begin with, I always advocate for myself and ask for help. I am very proud of my ability to advocate for myself despite society teaching us that asking for help is wrong. So, take the time to ask yourself: Are you advocating for yourself to your spouse, to your family, and to your job? Also, are you asking for the help that you need? In addition to asking for help, I also refuse to pretend to be Superwoman. What I mean by this is that I show my vulnerabilities constantly. I am okay with making mistakes and not being at my best at all times. That is how humanity works. Again, ask yourself: Are you hiding behind this facade of having it all together? Are you being vulnerable and showing your vulnerabilities?
Additionally, I try to prioritize my needs because I know that if I don't, no one else will. It is easy to prioritize the needs of your children, your spouse, your other family members, your work, and to forget about yourself. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep yourself at the center of the priorities. Motherhood can be overwhelming and all-consuming because there will always be a lot that your children require of you. My question to you is, are you prioritizing your needs in a way that keeps them met? Are you prioritizing your needs in a way that helps other people see that you have needs?
I make an effort to disconnect from other people's expectations of what my motherhood experience should look like. If we don't disconnect from societal expectations of what a mother should do, we will constantly forget about what makes our motherhood unique and comfortable. Define what your motherhood experience is going to be like for you.
Last, I am completely intentional about the life that I want. I am determined and very unapologetic about creating a reality where I am comfortable with not having to “do it all.” I am showing up for myself and prioritizing my wellness because I want to be very intentional about the life that I live. I know if I am not intentional about it, I may end up living someone else's expectations. This will result in motherhood feeling like a struggle. Through my motherhood journey, I learned that if I didn’t want to feel lost, I would have to be intentional about feeling content, joyous, and connected to myself as a mother. It is possible, but we have to be very intentional about it.
As mothers, we need to reevaluate the “doing it all'' myth and realize that needing help is completely normal. This may help you reflect on your experience as a mother to also come to the conclusion that you are comfortable with not being Superwoman.