I’m lowering my standards when it comes to motherhood—and I’ve never been happier

It's the only way I'm going to make it through this.

lowering the motherhood bar

I am an overachiever.

I wish I could say it's based on wanting to be the very best I can be every day or some similarly positive and industrious sentiment, but really, overachieving is just my way of keeping anxiety at bay.

When self-doubt rears its ugly head, if I can throw enough 'look at this amazing thing I did!'s at it, I can usually quiet the noise, at least temporarily.

I plan elaborate Pinterest-themed birthday parties. Because I enjoy it—I think? I think they spark joy? I'm honestly not sure anymore.

I menu plan. I plan weekend trips. I plan home declutter bursts.

I plan a lot in an attempt to prove to myself—and to the world—that I am a good enough mother.

Well, one thing I did not plan for was this pandemic.

And the only way I am going to make it through this is to lower my motherhood standards, dramatically.

If I am being honest, the standards and all my attempts to reach them are not providing any benefits to my life, pandemic or not.

Ironically, I didn't set the standards. They were created by our culture (and yes, the patriarchy). These unattainable standards for mothers were established by a society that doesn't even see fit to give us the basic support that we need to survive—and now they want us to go after some lofty and idealized vision of perfection that is impossible to attain. I think I'll pass.

I've realized that when I reach for those high standards, I'm not doing it for myself. Rarely am I the beneficiary of reaching the standards. Yes, my child had a gorgeous party and my family lives in a clean home.

Me? I'm left with a shell of myself—depleted and exhausted.

We are experiencing collective trauma right now and the last thing we need is to add the pressure of striving for perfection. Mothers are carrying so much of the societal burden right now: We're giving birth without support, homeschooling kids, being driven out of the workforce in droves, caring for ailing parents, worrying about paying bills, worrying about our family's safety, worrying and worrying and worrying.

We have reached our worrying capacity, and so it's time to lower our standards—a lot. And I invite you to join me.

Here's what lowering my standards looks like for me:

It's going to bed with a sink full of dishes.

It's peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.

It's the email to my child's teacher telling them that we couldn't get all the homework done.

It's not freaking out when I find that my kid has covered themselves in marker.

It's closing my computer and sitting in the sun while my children play.

It's not checking social media as frequently.

It's buying everyone the same Christmas present this year.

It's letting the day happen naturally rather than scheduling every minute of it.

And you know what? It's so much better.

Because my kids do not care about the dishes in the sink (they put most of them there in the first place). They love peanut butter. My child's teacher is exhausted, too.

And in so many other ways, I am learning that the only person who actually cared about the unachievable standards was me. Well, I officially don't care, anymore. And my family is thriving because of it.

Because an empty sink isn't what comforts them when they're scared. I am.

What we have for dinner isn't what shows my children they are loved. I am.

One day's worth of homework isn't what teaches them to be compassionate global citizens. I am.

I am.

I am lowering my standards because I am enough—I always have been. So have you.

So here's to sleepy lazy mornings in pj's, and simple birthday gatherings that are about the person and not the theme, and less time cooking with more time eating, and all the hundreds of ways that we can be gentle with ourselves.

It's the only way we are going to make it through this—and mama, it's so much better.

For the mamas who have always been enough.

Oath bracelet

i am enough bracelet

Remind yourself that you have always been enough, mama


In This Article

14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Detective set

Plan Toys detective set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


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