How to Avoid the Competitive Parent Trap | MyFirstGym
Introduction

 

Who’s guilty of scrolling through Instagram and just filling up with envy on how mums seem to have the ‘perfect’ life?

As a parent, it’s all too easy to compare yourself to every other parent in this world, to see if you’re doing the ‘right’ thing. But, how do we know what that even is? And why do we feel so bad and obsessed about the idea of perfection? 

Read on and I guarantee you’ll be saying ‘me too’ more often than you think. We’ve combined a few tips and tricks to prove to you that you are doing amazing regardless of what you’re thinking!

 

 

But, when did the mummy wars start?

 

From that incredible, magical moment that you announced ‘I’m pregnant’ to everyone you could possibly know, you’ve most likely been feeling out of your depth and felt critiqued left, right and centre. From what pram to purchase, to the colour of your nursery room, to whether you should bottle feed or breastfeed, and so on.

It’s natural to compare what you’re doing to others, especially when you have absolutely no clue of what to do in the first place – so it makes it easier to look to other peers, friends and family who have read this book before. Every parent wants to do the best thing for their children and wants to ‘fit in’ with what everyone else is doing. 

 

 

You’re not the same

 

Just because you may have the same amount of kids or your kids are the same age as your friend, doesn’t mean that everything is the same. Good or bad, you can’t compare every aspect of your life to another parent, because it is and never will be in any way, identical. Your responsibilities, habits, personalities and family routines will differ from one parent to the next. So, what is perfect for your family, could be chaos for another. 

It’s normal to get ruffled when people observe, comment, and judge the way you do everything. 

A huge majority of parents (90% of mums and 85% of dads) report feeling judged by others’. Nothing is hidden, parenting styles, children’s behaviours and discipline is all on show when you’re out in public with your children, and it’s only natural that you feel ruffled when people observe, comment and judge everything you do – to the point that sometimes you can hear the voices in your head, do any of these seem familiar? 

 

  • Am I as good a mother as her?
  • Why does my child always act up in public?
  • I’m sooo embarrassed by his tantrum.
  • Why don’t I cook and bake organic healthy snacks?

 

Coach clapping kid for achievement
When does it get too much?

 

Comparisons are fine, as long as you’re not ignoring the signs of wanting to do things a certain way for you and your family. However, there is a limit to comparisons. If you’re purely looking at other parents to ‘better yourself’ then that’s okay and healthy to do so. But, it becomes less helpful and productive when it’s coming from a place where you’re desperate to be ‘liked’ and ‘accepted’ instead (and trust me, you’re not the only one feeling like this!)

It’s easy to fall into a trap where your kids are turning around and saying ‘all my friends mums would let them’, just because they say this doesn’t mean what you’re saying is wrong. With these negative comparisons, it’s a competition you’ll never win. It’s evident that it’s harmful for your self-worth, parental decisions and relationships.  So, how can you help to fall out of this vicious cycle? 

 

 

What are some ways to help? 

 

  • Be aware. When you’re comparing yourself, are there patterns that form? Is it when certain people say/do something? Is it when certain topics are brought up? By taking a step back and knowing when you’re comparing yourself, can help and teach you where it’s coming from and most importantly, why. Don’t feel insecure, just whenever you notice, think about why you initially felt different and why you felt it was okay and build confidence around that.
  • Make changes. Rather than comparing and judging, make changes when you feel it is right to. If something is flagging up to you and causing you to compare, then take a look at your own situation and  make changes. For example, if you feel that someone else’s kids are so well behaved and polite, then start to focus on the manners and personalities at home. If you wish to have something in your family’s life, make that change, there’s a reason why you’re comparing and looking elsewhere, so just make it happen!
  • Limit social media. In this super-digitalised world we now live in, it’s totally normal to ‘stalk’ other parents and look at all their successes and wonder what their ‘perfect’ life is like. But it’s not, it’s exactly the same as yours. What you’re seeing is very select and a very specific, minor part of their lives that they are choosing to show to the world. It’s not an exact representation of what their life is really like. 
  • Understand that there’s ALWAYS things we can’t see. You’ve probably heard of the expression ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ or ‘you don’t know what happens behind closed doors’ – and it’s a perfect analogy to this statement. You don’t see everything, so, although parents can look like they have it all together, but most of the time they are feeling exactly the same way as you. You’re doing awesome and so are they!
  • Talk to other parents. This flows into the point above, you don’t know what’s happening in anyone’s life, so hold out a hand and make sure they’re okay. When you share your stories and struggles with others, it can soon seem like what once was a big deal is now nothing. More often than not, every parent experiences the same things, if you’re struggling to meet some new mumma friends, try joining a group like this one!
Conclusion 

 

Being a mother doesn’t come with a manual or a book of all the things you ‘should’ be doing. You will learn as you go along. There are so many factors that go into raising your children. Personalities, influences, challenges, choices they make, parenting styles, habits, insecurities and an infinite combination of struggles, will all make your child who they are. Even if you raised every single child in the same way, I guarantee they will all be different. 

 

 

Just do what’s best for you, your children, and your family and you will do the best you can do.