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As I paused to catch my breath a the top of the peak during a recent trail run, I pulled out my phone to take a picture of the incredible mountain views that surrounded me. But first, there it was: a text message that transported me straight back into the role of 'mom'.

"What time do I lay the baby down again?" our caregiver for the morning asked.

While I answered, I was reminded yet again that parents are never totally off-duty—and that seems especially true due to the emergence of technology that keeps us ever-connected to our children and homes.

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Even though this experience of "continuous parenting" is certainly with its benefits, the rate at which parents claim to be burning out doesn't seem entirely coincidental: When we expect mothers and fathers to put parenting first at all times, we are not creating healthy boundaries for ourselves and we are not sending our children good messages about setting boundaries, either.

The alternative? Encouraging mindfulness around the times when parenting should take precedence—and when it is fine to move those responsibilities to the backseat.

"It is important to demonstrate for our children that it is okay to 'switch off,' make mistakes and move at a slower pace," says Dr. Sophia Brock from Australian Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (AMIRCI).

Parents are more involved in their children's lives than ever

Much has been said about the rise of "helicopter parents." But, even for those of us who make every attempt to keep our feet on the ground, parenting consumes more of our time and energy than in generations past: According to a 2017 global analysis by The Economist, parents now spend twice as much time with their children as parents from 50 years ago. In fact, even the working moms of today have as much daily interaction with their kids as the stay-at-home moms of 1975—and that's not to mention how technology enables us to stay connected even when physically separated.

However, to say that technology is the only factor behind the rise of "continuous parenting" would be inaccurate, says Dr. Brock. Rather, the fact that text messages and push notifications have coincided with the emergence of the "intensive parenting model" has created a recipe for overextending ourselves.

"In order to be a 'good parent,' we are expected to be continuously engaged with every aspect of our children's lives, continually prioritize their wants and needs above our own and be emotionally consumed by parenting," she says, noting this was not historically the experience of mothers. "It is all encompassing and overwhelming."

Attaching personal value to children doesn't benefit either party

As former Stanford University dean of freshmen Julie Lythcott-Haims wrote in her book, How to Raise an Adult, "When I ask parents why they participate in the overprotection, overdirection, hand-holding frenzy, they respond, 'So my kid can be happy and successful.' When I ask them how it feels, they respond, 'Way too stressful.'"

By conflating personal success with the success of our children, we are doing everyone a disservice, Dr. Brock tells Motherly, noting that research shows the expectation that mothers derive their happiness primarily from their children is associated with negative maternal mental health outcomes.

"Nobody can be a continuous, intensive, perfect parent all the time," she says. "We will inevitably fail, and with that sense of failure also comes feelings of guilt."

Simultaneously, constant engagement in our children's lives and the hesitation to let them take healthy risks interrupts their opportunities to build resilience, a key trait for them to embody as they move into adolescence and adulthood.

"Continuous parenting is reducing the opportunities children have to engage in critical 'free play,'" Brock says, adding this puts children at increased risk for anxiety, depression and problems with self-control and attention.

Fostering independence in our children and fellow caregivers

In the case of the mountainside text, it was a situation admittedly of my own making: I have the tendency to manage (or micromanage) the how, when and why my children go down for naps and bedtime. More than once, the words "I'll just stay home and do it myself" have come out of my mouth—as it's felt easier to do something that feels second-nature to me than to explain everything there was to know to someone else.

Not only does that make it harder for me to get the space I need for my own interests, but it's also hindering the empowerment that caregivers such as grandparents, babysitters and even my own husband feel when holding down the homefront.

There is good news, though. The solution is, at least theoretically, simple: relinquish control on occasion.

"We can try to combat the pressures we are under to be continuous parents by letting go a little more, reducing our expectations, being kinder to ourselves, seeking support when needed and making sure we maintain connections to the community," Dr. Brock says.

Parallel to that, we need to encourage independence in our children—to remind them they are able to pick themselves up all on their own. That was something that Kaitlyn, an Ontario mother who balances working from home while caring for her toddler, says she was keenly aware of fostering from an early age.

"We have designated break times—right now, that takes the form of naps, but if he skips a nap, he still has 'rest time' in his room," she says. "I have very much taken myself off the hook to be a designated "provider of fun'... I never withhold anything, but I also know he's capable of solo time because I've allowed him to try it out."

Parents need to feel supported in having space, too

As commonsense at that may be, I can say from experience that society isn't always in alignment with that—as evidenced by the mom who was shamed for texting at the airport or by the ire that was directed at Beyonce (of all people) for going on a date with her husband following her twins' birth. Weighing that, it's no surprise 70% of moms said they felt pressured to parent a certain way. (Fathers experience pressures in different ways, as Prince William even explained recently.)

In other words, we aren't putting all the pressure on ourselves to continuous parent in a vacuum: The sense that this is the norm is reinforced in different ways, from the daycare's option to stream video to the study that found 41% of parents "can't remember" the last time the last time they had a kid-free outing.

But there is a difference between quantity of time and quality time. Just as vacations from work allow us to recharge and refocus, creating healthy breaks from the responsibilities of parenting helps us discover newfound patience, renews our enthusiasm, and, most importantly, inspires a more mindful approaches to parenting overall. Meanwhile, our children and fellow caregivers have the space to feel more empowered in their abilities. That is the kind of win-win scenario that parents deserve to experience and celebrate.

Originally posted on Medium.

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Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

News

Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

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Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life

I am broken.

It has happened again and I am breaking even more. Soon, the pieces will be too small to put back together.

The negative pregnancy test sits on my bathroom sink like a smug ex-lover. I am left pleading, How could you do this to me again? I thought it would be different this time. I had hope.

We are still trying. It has been 11 months and 13 days and there has been no progress. No forward momentum. No double solid lines. The emptiness of the space where the line should be mocks me.

I am broken.

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No amount of planning and scheming and effort is enough. I am not enough because I cannot make a chemical reaction happen at the exact moment it needs to happen. I cannot do what I want but oh how I wish I could.

It almost happened once. Two months ago, I felt different. Sore breasts and aware of the world like never before. I felt not empty. The blankness had been replaced by someone. I was sure of it. And I was late. Six days late and I thought this is it.

I didn't rush to test because I didn't want to jinx it. Or perhaps I just didn't want to let go of that string of hope. Without evidence that you're not actually here, I can pretend that you are.

So I waited. And I Googled early pregnancy symptoms and I kept an eye out for red spots I hoped I would never see. I finally couldn't wait any longer and decided the next morning would be the test.

But when I woke up, I knew it was just me. The feeling I had been feeling was gone and I knew, just knew, what I would find.

This test had words instead of lines. 'Not pregnant' it blared loudly, obnoxiously, insensitively.

I am broken.

It was four in the morning and I stood in my tiny bathroom apartment silently sobbing. Alone.

Perhaps you were there for a brief moment, but then you were gone.

I stared again at the stick.

Not pregnant.

Not pregnant.

Not pregnant.

It was taunting me now.

I wrapped it in a paper towel. Walked down three flights of stairs to the front of my building and threw it in the garbage can outside.

Later, when my husband woke, I told him I was wrong. There was nothing there after all.

And I mourned. All day long, I mourned. While I walked to work. While I said hello to my co-workers. While I answered questions and pretended to smile and tried not to think of the broken body I was living in.

The next day the blood arrived. Furious. Both of us infuriated it was there once again.

Can I keep doing this?

Am I broken?

Will I get to the point where I just… stop? Stop hoping. Stop praying. Stop wishing. Stop. Trying.

Am I broken? Or can I keep going?

Life

One of my biggest jobs as a mama is to create a foundation for my kids to become trailblazers and problem-solvers. It's not an easy task. I'm constantly wondering what type of person they'll become and how I can ensure they'll be awesome citizens of the world. For me, part of raising and encouraging future leaders starts with exposure—the more I introduce them to notable leaders in history, the better they can envision their own future.

This is why I love when brands create inspirational clothing and accessories for kids. And this month, Piccolina, a lifestyle brand for littles, added an exclusive Black History Month capsule collection to their trailblazer tees series and they are too cute for words.

The Black History Month line honors heroic leaders like Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Katherine Johnson and Rosa Parks on colorful tees. It even features illustrations by emerging artists of color like Monica Ahanonu, Erin Robinson and Joelle Avelino who are, in my opinion, just as important.

In addition to the tops, the collection features art prints that coincide with the shirts, making this a perfect addition to any kids room—and even mama's office. Perhaps even more exciting are the price points: The limited-edition tees retail for $28 and framed art prints are $60.

Maya Angelou trailblazer tee

Maya Angelou trailblazer tee

This cotton tee features a portrait of the award-winning author, poet and civil rights activist and is the perfect way for your little one to celebrate her inner storyteller. A portion of the shirts proceeds benefit non-profit organizations that support girls' education and empowerment, such as the Malala Fund and Step Up.

$28

While I'm not sure what type of person my little ones will become, I'm certain that introducing them to leaders will help them have greater self-confidence and reinforce that they are competent and resilient, too. And what mama can't get behind that? Now the hardest part is deciding which ones to purchase.

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