It is hard to take healthy stock of our lives without thinking of someone else who seems to have it more together. And when we do compare consciously or subconsciously, are we letting it determine the success of our own lives?
Here are five ways that we can stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and enjoy our own authentic lives.
1. Don’t use Facebook to feel the pulse on your fellow parents—that’s nothing more than a world of manipulated, airbrushed lives with deliberate omissions. No one is reporting all the lows. You just can’t know what is really going on for other families, so why compare? With technology it is easy to look around at what everyone else is doing. You used to have to actually leave your home to be inundated with utopia: perfect family photos, back door bragging posts and martha stewart rivalled homes. In recent study in Utah it actually showed that Facebook can make some of us sad!
So enjoy the Facebook updates and posts but if the online surreal life is robbing you of a joyful real life log out!
2. Speaking of surreal life… Pinterest is great but lately it is occurred to me that I have all these great meals pinned but have only made a handful. And the child crafts! Truthfully my daughter would rather me working with her on an uninspired prefabricated colouring book than incessantly searching on my computer for creative crafts that we rarely get to. Perhaps it is time to stop pinning them and start doing them.
3. Steer clear from the smug moms who seemingly jump off the pages of I Don’t Know How She Does It, just to judge you with a single glance at your child’s lunchbox, your daughter’s unkempt hair, or your personal choices on daycare, baby wearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, homeschooling or working. You don’t need friends like this.
4. Appreciate your own unique parenting strengths and skills. Personally I believe that we all have a mastery over different child-rearing areas and age groups. Some moms are brilliant with newborns, expert swaddlers and seem to take the lack of sleep in stride; while others are fabulous with toddlers have finger paint at the ready, enjoy crafts with noodles and can gently bring their little one out of an embarrassing tantrum at the store. You probably know a mom that is brilliant with teens, has a rec room full of the neighbourhoods’ sixteen-year olds and a gift for getting their teen to communicate with them. These same moms will likely tell you they struggled with their child when they were school-aged or a pre-schooler, etc. We all have our strengths and struggles.
5. Defy the expectations. Realize we are daily being marketed at to be perfect and it is unrealistic and debilitating. While you could once go through a newborn stage with your sweats on you are now expected to be in the best shape of your life sporting couture yoga wear. And if you were allowed to serve store bought muffins to your book club you now feel it has to be hand shucked, hand churned, and colour coded to the jacket of the chosen book. We have the power to ignore the Joneses and do and enjoy things when we want to, not because it defines us.
Kelly Flannigan, MSW, is an individual, marriage and family therapist. Now a mom of an industrious toddler and living with her husband in the Caribbean she has returned to work, of the paid variety, with a private practice. Additionally she continues to flex her self help muscle for women at all stages of self-discovery through writing. Without this outlet her life would resemble “Parenthood” meets “Groundhog Day”.