Last night I plopped on the couch after a long day of work, daycare pick-up, dinner, baths, playtime, and bedtime. I looked around my messy living room, defeated, and started auditing my life.

My kids just went a week without a bath. 
In the last week, my 13-month-old has eaten dirt, a crayon, dried leaves, and cat food. 
I should really start cooking healthier meals for my family. We had tacos again tonight. 
My baby hates broccoli. How did that happen? Did I not expose her to enough food? 
My toddler has been having more meltdowns lately, and the old tricks don’t work anymore. 
I should really text my friend about getting together with the kids some time, but I have too much to do. 

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But then out of nowhere, I felt God speaking to my heart, you cannot do it all. 

It wasn’t a negative thought or a shameful thought. He said it lovingly, gently. You cannot do it all. 

Since when did we start trying to do all of it–all by ourselves–perfectly?
When did we start feeling like we have to?

Honestly, I’m tired. Aren’t you?

Listen up, mommas: your kids will not remember the messy van, whether or not there were vacuum lines on the carpet, the gourmet salmon meal, or the perfect craft activities. But they will remember the tickle attacks, running through the sprinkler in the yard, bedtime stories, and hugs.

They will remember you.

And guess what else? You are not meant to be everything to your kids. Build up a community around yourself and your children. You can’t do this by yourself.

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Don’t rob your husband of the unique ways he fills up their little hearts. Ask him to take the kids to the zoo for the morning. Don’t be caught up in the fact they returned with ice cream all over their shirts and one shoe missing. Listen to your toddler laugh as he tells you about dad pretending to be a monkey, riding on his shoulders, and eating ice cream for lunch. Watch how the baby falls asleep on his chest, exhausted but happy as he puts her down for her nap.

Visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles. Let them give the toddler too much chocolate milk or walk around with the baby. They want to build relationships with your children. If they give you unwarranted advice, just take it with a grain of salt. They’re just trying to help–and they’ve been in your shoes.

Invest in your friendships with other moms.

Get to the point where they feel comfortable telling your own kid no, to where they can count on you to watch their kids if an emergency pops up, to where your kids hug and fight like siblings. Prioritize your time with them over your kids getting down for a nap by a certain time and don’t cancel a playdate if your baby has a runny nose.

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Your kids will survive just fine. You do not need to maintain the perfect world for your children. There is no such thing, and you could use a walk around the block with a friend.

If you’re feeling like you’re failing as a mom, it’s because you’re trying to achieve the wrong things. Or, rather, it’s because you’re trying to achieve something.

My friend, there are no As in motherhood. But there is the feeling of your toddler’s little arms wrapped tightly around your neck. There is the sweet sound of the baby’s squeal as you play hide-and-seek. Yes, there can be frustration and anxiety, absolutely, but don’t miss the sheer magic of these years.

And there is a grace that will calm your heart if you let go of your expectations to do it all–to be it all–and start holding on to the Lord and to other people in your life.

You are not enough for your kids. And you are not supposed to be.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Jill Smith

Jill is a stay-at-home mom to two toddlers and bonus mom to a teenager. Her days are spent drinking too much coffee, stepping on LEGOs, and convincing her 3-year-old there are other food groups besides chicken nuggets. You can find her at or on Facebook @graceonrepeat.