One of the hardest parts of motherhood is the anxiety, worry, guilt and non-stop pressure that comes along with having a child. Women have stressed about their little ones since the beginning of time, but the angst of mamas around the world seems to be much more pronounced than ever before. Why? Well, for one thing, the internet has changed the parenting game. Worried about something? It's likely about 500 articles written on the topic-in-question can be found with just a few screen-taps or strokes on a keyboard.
If Baby isn't sleeping, some experts suggest you should let him cry-it-out, assuring you that if you don't allow your child to learn to self-soothe, he will most likely never get a good night's sleep again. Others claim that allowing a baby to cry on his own, for even more than a few seconds, may cause him to develop major issues, such as anxiety and depression, even into adulthood. See why moms these days are a bit harried? The damned if you do, damned if you don't mentality is overwhelming, and the plethora of information constantly at a mom's fingertips can be maddening.
Mothers love their children furiously, ferociously and constantly. Who can blame a woman for just wanting to do what's best for her offspring? The anxiety sets in when there are so many different "right" and "wrong" ways to do things, moms can't catch an effing break. No matter how a mother chooses to parent, someone will always be judging, and someone will always disagree with her choices.
Social media doesn't make things any easier. The constant sharing of pictures, anecdotes and advice is overwhelming to say the least. Moms of the past were left to their own devices, and not electronic ones. Without the constant barrage of distracting parenting mantras, they were able to trust their instincts and go with their guts. Making a decision was as simple as doing what seemed best....without seeing 2o articles over the course of the next two days explaining why that decision was wrong.
Sure, a mom of the 21st century has every reason to be a little ball of stress and anxiety, ready to snap at any moment, but research has shown that this is one of the worst things for her and her offspring. That's right, Moms, it's time to chill. Despite the difficulty of this task, moms who relax and decide not to sweat the small stuff will have happier, healthier children, and will be better off themselves. Read on for 15 reasons why.
15 Worrying Wastes Energy
Moms, we hate to break it to you, but there are about a billion things that could go wrong at any given moment. Worrying about anything and everything that could possibly happen is a complete and total energy zapper.
The worst thing about stressing out over endless negative possibilities is the fact that the amount of time and energy spent stewing in no-way prevents bad things from happening. Furthermore, most of the time, the things you are worrying about will not take place, meaning you just put precious energy that could have gone into cooing and giggling with your baby into thinking about a worst case scenario that will most likely never be.
Being a new mother takes a lot out of a person. The constant feedings, diaper changes, laundry and lack of sleep cause every mom to feel drained. Adding worrying to the list of things to do does nothing but take away the little pizzazz you do have left to enjoy this extremely difficult, but also immensely joyous, time of life.
14 Children May Feel Like Caretakers
Of course it's completely good and normal for kids to see their mom stressed every once in awhile, it's also good for them to know you aren't happy all of the time, and feel a range of different emotions, just like they do. Problems arise when children see you worrying all of the time, about everything.
This won't really be an issue until your baby gets older, but children as young as one year of age may pick up on the fact that you are totally stressed, and feel it's his responsibility to help you feel better. He may not really have the ability to do much other than give you kisses and hugs, but, over time, he may start to feel like he's constantly waking on egg-shells around you, not seeking the comfort he craves, and instead, dishing it out.
As a child grows, he may take on the caregiver role more and more. One reason for this may be it's all he's ever known. He may worry that if he doesn't do all he can to make sure Moms is okay, she'll completely break down. This is an unfair amount of pressure to place on tiny shoulders.
13 Stressing Reduces Honesty
A mom who is stressed to-the-max all of the time may find it hard to be honest with herself, and others. When people ask her how she's doing, she may respond with a tight-lipped Fine, accompanied with a disingenuous smile, when she's actually at the brink of completely losing it.
Women need the support of others to get through the motherhood journey. Constantly worrying about what others think may cause you to be less-than-straightforward about how things are going. In addition, stressing about every little thing the baby does and doesn't do could lead you to lose a sense of what should actually worry you, and what is normal behavior.
As children grow up, they may find it difficult to be straightforward with an overly anxious mother. A child may be afraid to tell his mom when he isn't feeling well, isn't getting along with another child at school or is unsure about a new situation, simply to save himself from dealing with a mom freak-out session. This could lead to major problems. Especially if something serious goes undetected due to the fact that a child is afraid of making his mom more stressed out than she already is.
12 Worrying Breeds Self-Absorption
Believe it or not, a mom who is constantly stewing about everything that could go wrong in her child's life is actually prone to becoming a little self-absorbed. She may think that because her energy is spent worrying about the little one she loves more than anything else, its a completely selfless endeavor.
Actually, a mom who constantly worries about her own feelings of anxiety, may need to reevaluate her situation and realize that constantly stressing may do more harm than good for a child. Over-analyzing can make a mom so obsessed with her own feelings that she doesn't pick up on her child's needs and emotions.
As mentioned above, worrying does absolutely nothing to prevent a problem from occurring. Instead, a mama who is constantly contemplating things she's worried about breeds more problems than if she'd just take a big, deep breath, and focus on the child that needs her.
11 Anxiety Is Generational
One of the main reasons a mom should stop her constant worry about anything and everything is the possibility that all of her anxiety may be passed on to her offspring. A child who constantly watches mom fret, overthink and analyze is on the road to exhibiting the exact same behavior later in life, or even in her younger years.
In fact, according to Dr. Golda Ginsburg, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins, just under 65 percent of children who live with a parent who is constantly anxious exhibit the symptoms of having an anxiety disorder themselves.
This, in and of itself, is reason enough to take a chill pill and roll with the punches. Moms may think that their constant concerns are theirs alone, and that worrying won't affect their child. Unfortunately, children are little sponges, and pick up on pretty much everything. Mom may be doing more damage than she realizes with her constant worry.
10 Free Play Is Healthy For Children
One of the reasons many moms are stressed-to-the-max is the fact that they never, ever get a break. Constantly taking care of a child, and shouldering other responsibilities, may leave little to no time for a mom to administer self-care. Mom guilt is real, especially for moms who feel every second they are with their child should be filled with quality togetherness.
According to the American Journal of Play, lack of enough free-play time puts a child at a greater risk of developing "anxiety, depression, and problems of attention and self-control." What does this mean? Allowing a child to play by herself every once in awhile is actually very beneficial for both parent and offspring.
As long as a child's needs are met, allowing a child free-play is very healthy. It will help her develop important cognitive skills, and learn to enjoy her own company. When a child is left to her own devices every now and again, you may even be able to enjoy a glass of your favorite beverage or a good book. Win. Win.
9 Over-involvement Squelches Independence
As children get older, they crave independence. As hard as it may be for a mother to accept, as her babies get older, they will need her less and less. When children are newborns, they need constant attention and love. You may get used to giving all of yourself at every moment, and wonder how much to back off as your child grows more and more able to do things for himself.
When a child is young, savor the precious, albeit stressful, moments where he needs you round-the-clock. Try not to stress about the dirty laundry or obsess about the dishes in the sink. As he grows, let him make his own mistakes and learn from them.
Of course, set boundaries, teach him right from wrong, and be there when he needs you, but also be aware that it is actually very healthy for children to pull away from their parents as they grow up and begin attempting to understand the world around them.
8 Distress Takes A Toll on Mom's Physical Health
Over time, high levels of anxiety can really take a toll on a mother's physical health. One of the main things worried moms struggle with is lack of sleep. A mama may be dead tired, but find herself awake at all hours fretting about what she isn't doing right, what could go wrong, what others think of her mothering and how she could do better. This is heartbreaking, but true of so many women today.
Not getting enough sleep weakens a mom's immune system, making her more prone to illness. It also impairs judgement. Enough stress makes a whole bag of potato chips for breakfast seem like a great ideas. This is totally fine every once in awhile. Every mom has those days. But, over time, constantly missing out on precious sleep or not getting proper nutrition could have lasting negative consequences.
Getting enough rest, eating a well-balanced diet and finding time to relax and unwind on a regular basis will not only help relieve stress and angst, they will also help you to be a better mother.
7 Stressing Out Reduces Confidence
Every mom is blessed with the innate ability to know what is best for her child. Of course you will make mistakes and feel completely overwhelmed at times, but you can also be your own worst enemy.
Constantly stressing may cause an amazing mother to doubt her abilities. Worrying all of the time that you are going to screw up can take a major toll on your self-worth and erode the sense of confidence you should have in the amazing way you know what your child needs better than anyone else.
We are in no-way saying you will always know exactly what your child wants, and exactly what to do, but moms who are so anxious about messing up that they don't trust their own judgment aren't being fair to themselves. Give yourself some credit and go with your gut. You know more than you think you do, and your baby is so lucky to have you as her mama.
6 Every Mom Has Different Strengths
Yep, it's true. Your sister may be better at cooking than you. Your sister-in-law may be the champion of breastfeeding. Your neighbor may be the master of the swaddle. Don't ever compare yourself to another mom or worry that you aren't measuring up to the women around you.
There is without-a-doubt a strength you possess as a mother that many others envy. Maybe you are a natural comforter, who soothes your baby's cries with just a touch. Maybe you know how to make your babe giggle like crazy. Maybe you are one of those people who loves with her whole heart. Whatever it is you bring to motherhood, it's special; it's unique.
You should never, ever worry that you aren't as good at being a mom as someone else you know. It's simply not true. All of us are wonderful, amazing mothers in different ways. Own your strengths and never compare yourself to anyone else.
5 Quality Time Over Quantity
According to the Journal of Marriage and Family, "The average number of hours parents spend with their children each week has risen from 8.5 in 1985 to almost 14 in 2010." The periodical also determined that the way a child between the ages of 3 and 11 develops behaviorally, emotionally and academically has absolutely no bearing on how much time was spent with their parents each week.
The study also concluded that when a mother specifically is "stressed, sleep-deprived, guilty, and anxious," the time she spends with her children may be harmful instead of beneficial.
Of course, this doesn't mean time with Mom and Dad isn't infinitely important. What it does mean, however, is that it really does take a village to raise a child. As long as he is in the care of a loving individual at all times, if parents work or travel, a parent who spends time away from a child will not hinder his growth in any way. You shouldn't stress if you aren't with your child every second of every day. Both you and your child may benefit from you taking time away from your baby to recharge and reset.
4 Anxiety Takes the Joy Out of Parenting
Being a mom is so, so scary. If any mother really thinks about the immense responsibility resting on her shoulders, it's only natural for her to be a little, or a lot, worried and anxious about everything. There's so much to be concerned about, from how you are measuring up to other moms to how you will ever do everything your baby needs without screwing things up.
Here's the thing, though, ladies: being a mom is also so incredibly, rewarding, fun, exhilerating and amazing. Stressing over every minute of every day robs you of the reality that you have the best job in the world.
Sure, you'll make mistakes. It's most certain you will feel intimidated by other mothers out there. Remember: no one is you and you are your child's mom. He loves you. He needs you. You are just as much his everything as he is yours. For today, no more worrying. Just enjoy the beautiful gift that is your child.
3 Moms Don't Give Themselves Enough Credit
Moms are their own worst critics. You are doing a much better job than your realize. Promise. Give yourself some credit and don't worry if you feel like you've already messed up 100 times today. Every mom feels that way. Every mom doubts herself and worries like crazy that she isn't doing enough. You are enough. Pat yourself on the back. Instead of focusing on all of the things you do wrong, take a look at all of the things you are doing right.
Maybe you got your child to eat vegetables for lunch, maybe you read her the same story 19 times in a row, maybe you just changed the 5th poopy diaper today, or maybe you didn't lose it when your toddler painted the white couch with peanut butter.
Today, tell yourself you are awesome, because you are. Today, chill out and celebrate yourself. You are fantastic. You are beautiful. You are a mom who is imperfect and that will never change. It's time to change how hard you are on yourself. You deserve better!
2 The Kids Don't Care If Mom is Perfect
Your kids love you just the way you are. They don't want a perfect mom. They want you. They love looking up to you and all of your lovely, imperfect quirks. They know you make mistakes, but they also know you love them more than life itself.
If you were perfect, your kids would have no one to turn to when they make mistakes of their own. Motherhood is a beautiful mess of highs and lows. Remember during the hard days that your kids don't want a mom with no flaws. They want a mom who is happy, healthy and focused on them.
Want to be the best mom in the world? You already are. Now believe it, and go give your baby a big squeeze. No matter how old he is. Let the little things go. Embrace the imperfection and remember that children crave love more than anything else. If you love your kids, they are well taken care of, even if the laundry pile is a mile high and dinner is a mish mash of what's left in the fridge.
1 Life Is Too Short
Sadly, these terrifying days of new motherhood will be over before you know it. That newborn smell and those baby babbles will soon be replaced by the pitter patter of toddler feet. Soon after that, your precious one will be rushing out the door for soccer practice, studying for an important test and asking for the car keys.
It may seem impossible, but someday all that will be left of your tiny baby is the memories you create. He will grow up no matter how hard you wish he wouldn't.
Life is too short to stress and worry. Anxiety robs you of the ability to enjoy the sweet and fleeting moments right in front of you. Don't be so hard on yourself. Don't compare yourself to others. Don't allow the fear of what could go wrong cause you to miss out on everything that is going right. All of these are easier said than done, but the more you are able to relax and just enjoy the journey, the happier you and your baby will be.