Feeling a bad case of mom burnout and like you can never do enough? You are not alone. Here’s why you may be feeling exhausted.
My daughter and I cuddled on the couch Monday night watching Kids Baking Championship – one of our favorite shows. This week, the kids had to make donut art.
Every commercial break, she begged for a donut date.
My mouth watered. Man… yes, donuts.
And then an ad came on.
Completely harmless ad.. it showed a 7-year-old budding chef. The voiceover was his proud mom describing how their time in the kitchen was a special time together… blah blah blah.
It was really cute. But then…
The mom said one line that irked me.
A single sentence that seeped into my skin, but I wasn’t able to figure out why I was so bothered until hours later.
The mom said, “Having 3 happy boys who are also healthy eaters makes me feel like a good mom.”
Ok.. back this up.
Harmless? Not in the slightest.
As soon as I heard this, I immediately started thinking about how my kids had microwavable chicken nuggets for dinner.
I wanted to turn to my daughter and ask her if she was healthy and happy (I didn’t, because that would be weird, but man… I wanted to)
Why did this bother me so much?
Because in it was the unsaid assumption…
“If you don’t cook healthy food every night for dinner for your family, you are NOT a good mom.”
I never see commercials about this with men as the voiceover saying when they feel like good dads, why this emphasis on moms?
My husband notices it too. And it irritates him.
He’s not alone. A few years ago, Huggies had to pull one of its ads because of father backlash.
The TV spot depicted dads taking care of kids BUT getting distracted by TV and ignoring their child’s overflowing diaper. The company actually flew down to apologize to a conference of dad bloggers about the ad.
This “Dadvertising” is a new trend in media – noticed first during the 2015 Super Bowl. Instead of dad’s being the bumbling oafs of the household- they now do laundry, take care of the kids, do grocery shopping.
It reflects a change in our culture where more men are staying at home to take care of the kids. They are more involved with kids lives.
However, one large piece of the puzzle is still missing.
A Convenient Minority
Yay for commercials starting the trend toward positive change. However, many moms still feel overwhelmed and stressed.
Because, here’s the thing:
Moms are expected to fulfill the role of chief caregiver.
Dads are celebrated when they step into that role.
If my husband is in the checkout line getting groceries with our kids in tow, complete strangers will tell him what a good dad he is – when he is standing there, paying for groceries.
This offends him – and rightly so.
He is not the babysitter to our kids, he is their father. Of course, he is going to spend as much time with them whenever possible.
I talked with him about this the other night and asked if he feels part of the minority of dads who act this way.
He said, “Probably. But I’m part of a convenient minority.”
You see, many men know there is this perception of them as bumbling oafs when it comes to childcare and housekeeping. He theorizes that guys embrace this and “lazy out.”
Judging by some trends we see today, I might have to agree
For instance, I have a cousin back east who teaches parenting classes from everything on the importance of play to how to encourage optimal brain development in children.
99% of these classes are attended by moms.
Except one class – geared specifically towards dads – where she hands out toys and the dads play with their kids for an hour.
What is wrong with this?
We’re sending a message that moms are the ones responsible for the kid’s welfare while dads are their for the occasional appearance and a little bit of fun.
How can we change?
When we’re constantly shown images and told how we as women are expected to care for the children while dads are celebrated for showing up, it effects us.
It burrows into our psyches.
No wonder we feel responsible for everything – from what the kids need for school every morning, to what to cook for dinner each night.
No joy. No touchy-feely. Just mandatory.
This leaves us moms stressed, burnt out and just plain angry.
If our kids fail, we think it’s our fault.
Mama, it is not your fault.
But you do have the power to change it.
We, as a society, need to shift our views from moms being the sole caretakers to childcare being an equal partnership between the two people who created the child.
Not optional partnership, expected union.
We need to assume that dads are equally responsible for childrearing.
To give them space to take care of things their way – just like we do it our way.
To trust that they will get it done.
We must consciously lift that responsibility off our shoulders – creating a “Do Not Do” list if you will.
It won’t be perfect. In fact, it will be horribly messy.
And we may cringe and hate everything that happens and worry that we are forever mentally harming our child.
But the less stress we have, the better moms we become.
The happier we become.
The happier our kids become… and that’s worth it.