Let's get real: sometimes, moms, we're just at the end of our ropes. There are times when even the best of advice is going to fall flat because we're too stressed, too anxious, and too overscheduled. But if you're a struggling mom today, I hope you find some encouragement here.
First time mom? Have multiple kids? Whether you're having a tough time because you've got tiny babies at home dependent on you for their every need, or you're dealing with self-doubt or comparison or any of the million things moms face, there's something here for you.
For the struggling mom that has difficulty asking for help
Asking for help is a tough thing for a lot of us, but fortunately, it's a skill that we can learn and cultivate.
First, remember that you’re human
It's okay to ask for help. No one is perfect, and no one has it all together (no matter what your favorite social media influencer claims). I'm pretty sure there's not one single person who has ever made it through life without help. As a part of humanity, you need to be able to rely on others sometimes.
Reach out in one small way for help
If you're struggling to admit you need help, why not try by taking one tiny step in that direction? Think of one small way you could ask for help. It might be as minor as asking your spouse to drop the kids off at school one morning or talking to a friend about babysitting for a few hours.
That first step in acknowledging you can't do it all just might open up the door and make it easier going forward. Maybe your partner or friend will say, "Hey, I'm so glad you finally spoke up," because they knew you needed help but were reluctant to ask.
Try online therapy if you're a struggling mom
Now, needing a little help around the house or with your schedule doesn't automatically mean you need to pursue therapy. But many of us who are struggling moms trying to hold everything together just need an outlet. Maybe you need someone to talk to that's unbiased and doesn't know you personally.
Many of us find it easier and more comfortable to communicate online than in person, which can make online therapy a great tool. You can try BetterHelp, Talkspace, or another online therapy service to get some guidance and perspective.
For the struggling mom who needs some self-care
Self-care can be a loaded term for some of us. You may have heard it tossed around in reference to things like spa weekends and retail therapy, but in reality, it's much more nuanced. Self-care is just acknowledging the unique needs you have and making some time for them.
Identify what you love
First of all, when you really need some self-care, you may not even recognize it because you're so used to focusing on others 24/7. So a great exercise may be to think about what activities you truly love to do (and maybe don't get to do much anymore because you're struggling with motherhood). This 30-day self-love challenge might offer some ideas.
Perhaps going to fitness classes comes to mind or curling up with a mystery novel. You may have once participated in community theatre or held season tickets to an area sports team.
Think of all the things you enjoy, and that bring you peace. Those activities can help refresh you, so you return to your daily responsibilities with more energy.
Let go of the guilt
I know, as moms, we tend to struggle with guilt. No matter how much time we spend with our kids, we may think it's not enough. While you may not be able to completely shake this feeling, aim to do something for yourself in spite of it.
If you must, think of the example of putting on your oxygen mask first. Although that applies literally when you're on an airplane, it's a metaphor for our lives. You have to take care of your own needs or you'll eventually run out of energy for everyone else. So let go of that mom guilt. After all, self-care also frees you to care for others!
Set aside time just for you (Super important as a struggling mom)
Once you've identified your top self-care activities, make time for them. You may not get to do them every day. But maybe you can sneak away for that painting class weekly or monthly.
Self-care can also include things like cooking healthy meals and getting enough sleep. Don't underestimate how powerful those every day habits can be in making you feel like yourself again. Even just keeping a simple journal may be a rejuvenating exercise.
For the struggling mom who doesn’t have enough time
Obviously, time is one of the top struggles everyone has. We worry we don't have enough time, and we keep striving to manage it better. So how can we make sure we're using our 24 hours a day the way we want and need to?
Track your time
Time-tracking can be a useful tool for busy, struggling moms. After all, we're so used to saying "I don't have time" and "I'm just so busy" that we might not realize how we're spending our time.
If you have never tracked your time before, a great start may be Laura Vanderkam's time-tracking spreadsheet, which enables you to mark how you spend your time in either 15-minute or 30-minute increments.
She points out that we have 168 hours each week, and we often are way off in our estimation of how much time we spend working, at leisure, and everything in-between. Time-tracking can work similarly to writing a budget or logging your food.
We manage what we monitor. So, if time is a major struggle for you these days, you might do this experiment for a week or more and see what happens.
Work on scheduling
When you feel like you don't have enough time to get it all done, you may want to admit you probably don't. Most of us can't do everything we want to with our time. But the key is to do what we can with the time we have.
You might experiment with different scheduling programs or apps. Some of us work best when we make a commitment to certain activities at certain times, while others of us like to be more spontaneous. Figure out what works for you, and just do your best.
Note: if you're working overtime to accomplish a goal such as getting out of debt, your schedule will feel more pinched than usual. Take heart in focusing on this being (hopefully) a temporary solution.
Prioritize (Let some things go)
Do a quick Google search, and you'll find thousands of book titles related to the topic of time management. Clearly, our society values maximizing our time and getting the most out of life. One way to make the most of your time is to acknowledge that you can't do it all and prioritize what truly matters.
Just as we have to follow a budget because we can't buy all the things, we need to budget for our time. Define your priorities, keeping in mind your current phase of life. The tough part about prioritizing is letting go of what is less important. It doesn't mean you have to give it up permanently, but at least for now.
Your life today will change, so remember to enjoy what you have today instead of worrying about what you can't do. For example, maybe you don't take that solo Appalachian hiking trip this year, but wait until your kids are a bit older.
For when you’re struggling with motherhood by trying to do it all
The dream of doing it all, or having it all, is alive and well, and it's kind of sad, to be honest. Nobody can do it all! As said above, we get 168 hours in a week, which is a lot of time, but it's not infinite. Try some of these tips if you're struggling with motherhood and doing it all yourself.
Prioritize the most important things
Yes, we just talked about this in the time-management section. But it's so important I'm going to mention it again. The classic struggle of moms, especially modern moms, is that we feel obligated to do it all.
We want to be super-engaged with our kids and their activities and interests while having a thriving career, volunteering in the community, and also being fit and healthy. However, the expectations are impossible.
So if you're a struggling mom who wants to do it all, I get it. I worry about this too. What we can do to help is focus on our priorities. Moms, we have to be ruthless about what really matters in life. As Paula Pant says in the Afford Anything community, "You can afford anything, but not everything." That applies not only to money, but time, energy, and other finite resources.
Enjoy the moment
Are you sick of hearing people tell you to "Seize the day" or "Enjoy every moment"? It can be overwhelming to constantly be striving to enjoy every moment. Of course, not every minute of being a mom is fun and filled with rainbows.
But if you're a struggling mom who wants to "have it all," it can really help to pause and try to enjoy the present moment. Taking a minute to gaze at the sunset or snuggle in with your little one a bit longer—those are sweet times. (By the way, check out our positive affirmations for toddlers!)
You won't enjoy every moment. But you can try not to worry so much about being the ideal mom that you miss out on what's right in front of you.
Delegate to others
If you're struggling with motherhood because of the unfair expectation to do it all yourself, it's time to stop. We need to be able to delegate some tasks to others. Whether it's your partner or spouse, or maybe a relative who lives nearby, could you pass off some of your everyday tasks to them?
Chances are, you have someone in your life who would gladly lighten the load for you as a mom. Maybe Grandma can babysit while you go to your weekly book club meeting, or you can enlist your spouse to take over the budgeting responsibilities for a while.
For the mom struggling with comparison
How many of us are moms struggling with comparison? We look at all the moms around us and think of the ways we don't measure up. Here are some encouraging words for you if you're always comparing yourself to others.
Remember that everyone struggles
First of all, understand that we all have hard times. When you look at that friend's Facebook post with her kids in color-coordinated outfits and behaving like angels, remember that she probably took fifteen photos before that one turned out.
It can be helpful when you're feeling bad about your parenting or something that another mom does "better" than you, that everyone struggles in some way, even if you can't see it. (And if it's too hard to remember, try a social media detox to get away from comparisons for awhile!)
Moms are unique; celebrate that
Every mother is unique and can parent her kids like no one else can. There are so many things we need to keep track of and organize. So don't sweat it if your kids seem to get more screen time than others do or they aren't in as many sports like the other kids.
You don't need to be like the other moms in the neighborhood or your kids' school. In fact, they probably envy you for something you do really well. So just relax and be the best "you" possible.
Clarify your goals as a mom
When I'm struggling with comparison, I like to take time to think about what my goals are. Sometimes this draws me back to reality, so I remember the goals I care about instead of what my friends might be doing.
If you're going to be content as you navigate this life, you need to focus on yourself, not others. And that isn't a selfish way to live; it helps simplify your life so you can make real progress.
For example, maybe serving organic homemade meals isn't a high priority on your list. So don't fret about that! Find other healthy ways to feed your family. This can free up time for other things. For instance, having more time to spend in nature together, which is also important to your health.
Your career goals aren't likely the same as your mom friends' goals. Are you focused on building up a successful side hustle so you can have a more flexible schedule than at your corporate job? Great! Don't compare yourself to someone else with totally different career aspirations than yours.
Support other moms
One of the best ways to combat the comparison trap is to focus on being a positive influence. There's plenty of room for rock-star moms in every arena, so why be competitive?
Encourage other struggling moms instead of belittling them
To start with, you can make encouragement—not criticism—your first response. For example, if your friend says she's looking for online clients for her side hustle, cheer her on. When another mom is making plans to accomplish her goals, ask how you can support her. Share your favorite personal development books or blogs that apply to her journey.
Share your own struggling mom “fails”
Now, I don't mean you have to always focus on the negative. But you can encourage other moms by being honest about your failures as well as your successes.
I love it when my friends share a story of how they got frustrated with their toddler or forgot to plan the birthday party or buy that experience gift. It keeps things real and makes me see them as real people.
You can help your friends feel more comfortable around you by showing them the real you and sharing ways you've failed. This doesn't need to be done in a critical way, but as a means of opening up conversation so we all can stop pretending to be perfect.
Our favorite struggling mom quotes
To wrap this up, here are a few struggling mom quotes that might encourage you and other moms today:
“There is no way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good one.” - Jill Churchill
This is one of my favorite struggling mom quotes because it reminds me to focus on my particular gifts and not worry about the things I'm not good at. Of course, perfection is not a realistic goal. But we can strive to bring small moments of joy and encouragement to our kids. We can also be present with our kids and guide them into their future.
“I’m the only woman in the world who’s figured out how to have it all without going insane.” - Tina Fey, Great News
Tina Fey's character in this series, a high-powered executive who's also a mother of four, points out the seeming impossibility of being a woman today. You want the career, you want the family, you want to manage both perfectly, and of course, you can't give 100% everywhere.
“It's not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What's hard, she said, is figuring out what you're willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” - Shauna Niequist
Again, this goes back to priorities. We can be better moms by focusing on a few select parts of our lives that matter most. It's impossible to do everything perfectly. Maybe you are a great listener when with your kids, but not big on baking homemade goodies that's perfectly fine.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Comparing ourselves to others can rob us of the happiness of who we are and the life we've been given today. Sometimes we don't get to choose our circumstances.
But we can still choose how to respond to them, and often looking at what other mothers are doing can make us second-guess ourselves. Try to relax and be the best person (and mom) that you can be, not what you think everyone else wants you to be.
"A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take." - Cardinal Meymillod
Mothers tend to wear all types of hats, don't we? We take on the roles of chef, housekeeper, fixer-of-all-things, counselor, teacher, friend, and more in our households.
So today, why not take a moment to pat yourself on the back? You do amazing things for your family, and it would be pretty tough for any other human being to take your place!
"Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws." - Barbara Kingsolver
Some days when you're struggling to balance the demands of work and motherhood, it can feel like you'll never manage. But sometimes you can muster an almost supernatural strength to accomplish what needs to be done.
This doesn't mean you aren't entitled to rest days; those are crucial, too. Be sure to trust in your power as a mom to do what's right for your family and to be there for them.
Leverage these struggling mom quotes and tips to make life easier!
When it comes to advice, it's always important to remember that no two people's situations are identical. No one can understand exactly what you're going through. So try to use the tips that apply to you so you can make your life easier.
Whatever area of life you may be struggling in right now, whether it's relationships or career, or finances, remember that you can do this! If you are a single mom struggling, we also have more specific action steps for you.
Start getting help with your finances with our completely free courses and worksheets! You will learn how to ditch debt, save money, create goals, and build wealth! Also, for more inspiration tune in to the Clever Girls Know podcast and Youtube Channel.