As a mom who has been all the things: Stay-at-home mom, part-time working mom, full-time working mom, work at home mom, work outside the home mom, etc., I can tell you one thing for sure: the phrase “work-life balance” makes me want to throw things. To me, it seems like it’s just one more magical, impossible thing that today’s modern moms are supposed to achieve. Add it to this list:

  • Perfectly behaved kids who never see a screen
  • Rewarding career that brings home the bacon
  • Tidy, Marie Kondo’ed house
  • Amazing marriage with date nights aplenty
  • Killer presentations that wow clients and superiors alike
  • Delicious, healthy, perfectly prepared meals
  • Kids who turn out to be fully functional, successful adults
  • Picture-perfect mental health because if you have all of the above you are hashtag blessed so don’t even think about complaining!

Oh man, that list seriously give me the nervous SWEATS! So, when I read a recent newspaper article that began with the line “Moms want to do it all, but even when they do it comes at a detriment to their mental health,” I was not even a little bit surprised. It goes on to say that recent research by a sociologist studying the U.S. versus other countries reports that, “U.S. mothers have it the worst out of Western industrialized nations when it comes to work-life balance because they lack cultural support.”

SIGH.

Caitlyn Collins says in her new book “Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving,” that basically, society puts impossible pressures on moms to have it all and do it all and that in the U.S., the pressure is impossible to live up to. She says women do things like change careers and purchase products and apps to help them “do it all” more efficiently, but that it doesn’t help. Collins says moms need to go FULL STOP on accepting that living with this kind of stress is just their lot in life as a mom.

Our culture, she infers, has set us up for failure.

“I want to tell mothers that this is not your fault,” she said. “It is powerful how much women have internalized the idea that if they just tried harder, it wouldn’t be this way. And I say, ‘No, this is not on you. You deserve better and that is brand new information for a lot of women to really hear that.”

Did you hear that, Mamas? This is NOT on you. And you deserve better! 

Better than being stressed out all the time. Better than faking it. Better than killing your mental health because you’re trying to live up to an impossible standard that some crazy person decided should be “normal.”

What I’ve learned in 15 years of motherhood and being all the different types of working/non-working mom is…it’s ALL hard. And it’s all worthy. But I’ve also learned that lining up your priorities so that your mental and emotional health is very near the top is one of the best things you can do for your kids.

And maybe, re-organizing your priorities just seems like more pressure. But that’s not what I intend here. What I want is for you to think about what kind of motherhood will make you happy. Because there’s some truth to “What Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” So if you start thinking about what kind of priorities would give you less stress, chances are, these are also the priorities that will make your entire family less stressed and more happy.

So.

Tell society and work-life balance to pick on someone its own size, and do something small to take back your life today, Mama. Since I wouldn’t ask you to do something I’m not willing to do myself, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to cross two things off the GIANT to-do list I made for myself this morning and I’m going to ask my kiddos to play a game with me after school with that time instead. And if they say “no thanks,” I’m gonna go READ A BOOK.

Baby steps, my friends. Let’s take back the joys of motherhood!

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I’m an Exhausted Working Mom Who’s Ready to Lean Out, Not In

To All the Working Moms Who Are Tired Before They Get to Work

Dear Working Mom, I See You

Jenny Rapson

Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.