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Why are moms so competitive? Mayim Bialik has one theory

The Big Bang Theory star’s encounter with “competitive moms” revealed something interesting to her.

Why are moms so competitive? Mayim Bialik has one theory

Every mama, at one point or another, will experience “competitive mom syndrome.” You find yourself boasting about your kid’s progress to everyone you meet. Or you encounter another mom showing off the latest tech gadget she insists you must use with your baby. Before you know it, you’ve fallen completely into the competitive parent trap.


Even when the comments come with good intentions, they can be hurtful. Just ask Mayim Bialik, who, in a new video, remembers how one mom meet-up left her “in tears.”

In the video, Bialik recalls how mamas at the meeting “were encouraged to brag” about everything from the duration of their labor to when their babies first rolled over. The Big Bang Theory actor—who shares 12-year-old Miles and 9-year-old Frederick, with ex-husband Michael Stone—says she “instantly felt out of place” in the mom group.

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“I used cloth diapers, I didn’t use pacifiers or bottles. I didn’t have fancy clothes—neither did my baby—I didn’t have a manicure,” the mom of two sons says in the video, which she posted to Facebook and Youtube last week. “I mean I barely had time to shower, how was I going to get a manicure?”

As Bialik notes in her video, competitive parenting is common phenomenon among mamas. A pleasant conversation can quickly turn into a comparison game of who does what better as mother: breastfed versus formula-feeding. Fresh vegetable versus mini pizzas. Working versus staying at home.

Every action we choose as parents, it seems, becomes fodder for competition.

But why do mothers engage in competition? The Blossom star’s theory is that women were raised to believe that “we can and should do it all.” It prepares us for the workplace. But if we leave our careers to focus on motherhood, “We took that competitive drive and we seem to have superimposed it on our lives as mothers,” she says. “So it’s not enough to be a mom, you have to be the best mom.”

That’s one powerful observation.

All moms want the best for their kids, and we don’t need to be the best at everything to achieve that. But cultural dynamics push us to try and out-do our fellow mamas, when we should be supporting each other instead.

That’s Bialik’s ultimate message. At the end of the video, the mom of two sons asks mamas to join her in discovering “more meaningful things to connect.” She hopes that one day, moms won’t assume questions about breastfeeding are passive-aggressive ways to “pass judgment,” but instead, realize it’s genuine curiosity about their experience as a mom.

That, of course, can only happen if mamas drop the competitive streak. As Bialik says, “We can only do this together.”

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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