I’m a Mom Who Doesn’t. You Don’t Have to, Either.

I'm a Mom Who Doesn't. You Don't Have to, Either.
Written by Elizabeth Spencer

A while ago, I told a mom friend I was hosting a sleepover. I confessed to her I rarely let my daughters have them because I always get all worked up about what the girls will do and where they’ll sleep and if, heaven help me, EVERYONE IS HAVING A GOOD TIME.

“I don’t do them, either,” she told me.

Shortly after that confession, I told another mom my daughters were making dinner that night– something they’d never done before in spite of being teenagers, because I’m a control-freak, neat-freak mom who never cooked with her kids.

“I don’t cook with mine, either,” she told me.


I. Don’t. 

Who knew two little words could be so freeing and uplifting? 

Sometimes I feel like I’m surrounded by moms who do. They do spectacular birthday parties and they do homemade hummus in Bento Boxes for school lunches and they do craft projects every day of the week and they do…everything. With their kids and for their kids. Which is great for them if they love it and if it charges up their mom spirits. I do not in any way begrudge them their doing.

But I just…don’t.

I don’t do and haven’t done and won’t do so many things. And when I shared what I don’t do with my friends, they showed me I’m not the only mom who doesn’t. Which felt like a gift. 

In case it feels like a gift to someone else, here are a few other things I don’t.

I don’t have it all together.

I don’t make my girls pack their own lunches.

I don’t like everything that goes with being a mom.

I don’t make my girls make their beds before school.

I don’t take pictures of every major and minor life event.

I don’t do Pinterest-inspired parties.

I don’t know what I’m doing a lot of the time even though I’ve been at this a long time.

I don’t make my kids do enough chores.

I don’t limit desserts to “special occasions.”

I don’t switch my daughters’ schedules to “school time” while it’s still August just so they’ll be used to getting up early when September rolls around.

I don’t have this all figured out.

I don’t.

But, here’s what I do

I do love, love, love my children. 

I do enjoy them.

I do delight in them. 

I do cherish them.

I do check in with them.

I do laugh with them.

I do cheer them on.

I do love spending time with them.

I do pray for them and with them.

I do talk to them.

I do listen to them.

I do treasure them.

I do want so much joy and satisfaction for them.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is this one from Jill Briscoe: “There is an art of leaving things undone so that the greater thing can be done.”

What I don’t do–what I leave undone–frees up my time and energy and passion and enthusiasm for what I do do–the greater thing. 

And the value of that is something I don’t have any doubts about.

If you are a mom who sometimes doesn’t do, know that you are not alone. I don’t, either.

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You may also like: Why Tired Mothers Stay Up So Late

Um, this is spot on."This is my time, and I cherish every moment of it. There are no children pulling at the hem of my shirt, asking for yet another snack. No noise, no chaos, just me and my thoughts."

Posted by Her View From Home on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What I don't do--what I leave undone--frees up my time and energy and passion and enthusiasm for what I do do--the greater thing.  And the value of that is something I don't have any doubts about.

About the author

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two teenage daughters who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Great post! I am *that* mom who does do the Pinterest-y birthday parties and the crafty projects but that’s probably more for me than for the kids. I get my thrills from exercising my creativity, which as a SAHM, I don’t always get to do when surrounded by constant laundry and cleaning up messes. Visiting from Tuesday Talk party.

    • Aw, thank you so much! I so appreciate your understanding that I was IN NO WAY trying to be critical of “that” mom who loves to do all those things that make me want to cry. πŸ˜‰ I have one particularly crafty friend, and I know it charges her up and fills her up and nurtures a precious part of her soul. I have this part of my soul, too, but it is nurtured by baking brownies. πŸ™‚ I just love the way moms can encourage each other by being open and honest about what we do–and what we don’t. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • This is awesome. My kids are grown. I didn’t do sports so they didn’t either. They still grew up happy and well adjusted. We had a happy family life not planned around sports teams. Now they all enjoy athletic activities that don’t involve teams. Also, two are married and the other one will be in December, to wonderful people. Obviously no one died from not doing team sports. ?

    No one can do everything, moms, so you just have to decide what’s most important.

    • Thank you so much! You are SO right: “No one can do everything, moms, so you just have to decide what’s most important.” I know many families do and love involvement with sports…for us, on the other hand, we’ve said “I do” to band and dance instead. It’s worked for us. πŸ™‚ It must be so rewarding and affirming to look back on your choices and see that they worked out just fine! πŸ˜‰ And what a joy to have your family expanding to include more wonderful people…as my girls get older, that’s quickly becoming a deep longing of my own heart. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and perspective here…so encouraging! Bless you!

  • I Love This!! I’m that mom who doesn’t do birthday parties. I find it overwhelming, but l do make their birthdays special and all about them. I make their special cakes and buy their presents they like. They choose their birthday dinner and it’s so much easier than planning, decorating, cleaning, etc. It saves me money and the sanity and the kids enjoy their birthdays more that way.

    • Oh, Tyane, my kindred spirit! πŸ™‚ I take the exact same approach to birthdays. I get freaked out and stressed out over parties, which is not exactly the best birthday gift to anyone. πŸ˜‰ But I love to do all the things you describe…in fact, birthdays in your house sound delightfully much like birthdays in mine! It’s all about what I don’t do so that I can do what I DO do to make my birthday people feel cherished and celebrated! Thanks so much for taking time to read and comment on this piece of my mom heart.

  • I love this piece, and will likely share it. I like the idea of confessing. As a mother who didn’t let my teenagers … I got a lot of push back. When I talked to other mothers, I learned I was not alone. Our kids can try to trick us with our own peer pressure. We need to keep talking to each other as the kids get older. We don’t have to be anything but what our kids need now, in that moment. And it’s what they need, not what they want.

    • …and I LOVE your thoughts and perspective here, Kate! Thank you so much for sharing. That reassurance that we are not alone as moms is so valuable, I can’t even describe it. And you are right: we continue to need to share with each other as our kids get older. I think there’s some isolation once we get past the “Mommy and Me” classes and playdates. πŸ˜‰ Thank you especially for this: “And it’s what they need, not what they want.” My girls may, in fact, WANT parties that look like something out of a magazine (which is fine for those moms who can and want to do it…which is to say, not me), but what they NEED is a mom who isn’t freaking out so much about party favors that I ruin their birthday with a mom meltdown. HA! How’s that for confession? πŸ˜‰ Thank you so much for taking time to read my little ode to “I don’t” and for leaving your insightful encouragement!

  • I’m on board with most of this..

    But man, I LOVE sleepover birthday parties.
    1) Invite fewer kids than a regular birthday party. (Like on the order of 4-8 seems fine. At the younger stages, most of the parents will end up picking up their kids at bedtime anyway.)
    2) Don’t have to entertain/feed parents.
    3) Get a couple of pizzas, movies, and a birthday cake, and everyone’s happy. No activities needed, the sleepover IS the activity. Or, you can incorporate making a cake into the party.
    4) I got a thick mattress topper for our bed. When it’s time to host a sleepover, I end up taking it off and that’ll sleep 2-3 kids.

    We got a karaoke machine a few years ago, and that’s been a big hit, every year.

    I host sleepover parties because I’m lazy.

    • Love it! Great practical suggestions for saying “I do” to this! And I will say that even though I am freak mom (actually, a freak human being in general) who gets nervous about having people other than my family in the house because then I’m responsible for if they’re happy here or not, I am glad to “host” sleepovers now that my girls are older and do all the work and I just have to make pancakes in the morning. WHICH I like to do. πŸ˜‰ Thanks so much for taking time to read this and for the the “sane sleepover party primer”!

  • I think it is so important for other parents, especially moms, to hear this. So often we try to do EVERYTHING, whether we realize it’s realistic or not, and it just makes everything that much more stressful. Thanks for sharing this on the This is How We Roll link up.

    • Thank you so much, Alicia! I agree wholeheartedly with you. I was thinking about this just yesterday, and I had the thought that in our modern era of mothering, we moms have so many choices about what we CAN do, whereas as moms generations ago had pretty much one job: keep their families alive. (And of course, in so much of the world, this is still how it is.) The problem is not the choices: it’s the sense of obligation that can come along with them. I know myself well enough to understand that if I make certain choices, “the greater thing” I’m trying to do–make my children feel loved and secure and create a safe haven of a home for my family–is going to suffer. Anyway, sorry for the long response, but thank you so much for stopping by from #ThisIsHowWeRoll! Bless you!

  • This is so beautifully written and and just what every mama needs to read! Thank you for sharing at Mommy Moments last week! It was the top viewed link and will be featured in the link up today πŸ™‚ Congratulations!