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I recently started doing affirmations with our girls in the mornings when I get them up. My affirmations for them are inspired by Louise Hay and her children’s book I Think, I Am!: Teaching Kids the Power of Affirmations. The other day I was having the comparison thoughts and this line from that book popped into my head:
I am grateful for what I have.
It’s too easy to get down on ourselves thinking about what others have or appear to have. And it’s not just social media. I opened the front door to check for a package the other day and saw a mom pushing her baby in a stroller and the thought I should be taking more stroller walks hit me.
Needless to say, I’ve got to get my comparison thoughts under control. So I wanted to share my top five strategies with you today. If you struggle with looking at others and silently wishing your life were slightly different like me, here’s a few things that could help.
1. Take a Closer Look
This is probably the most effective strategy on my list. I have stay-at-home mom comparison syndrome (just made that up!). I see “stay-at-home moms” that I know in real life or on social media and I think that I wish I were a stay-at-home.
I do get to stay home, but am busy working and then there is the matter of keeping the household from crashing down. So sometimes I wish life could be more simple and my only job would be being a mom and keeping the house together.
When I start romanticizing the lives of other women who seem like they have this luxury, I have to take a closer look. I think of a SAHM I know and remind myself that she actually also works out of the home, it’s just different work. Or maybe it’s that I don’t want to be in her marriage — I have my own! I find a reason that I actually don’t want to be her or why her life isn’t necessarily better.
Whatever it is, it’s like when you know someone only as an acquaintance and their life seems so perfect from a distance. Then you get to know them and realize that they have just as many problems as you, sometimes more!
Take a closer look, and you will see that life just isn’t as perfect as the snapshots you are getting. Everyone wishes something were different. Everyone has dreams they are working towards.
2. Commit to Doing Something Positive
When I saw the mom walking her baby, I wasn’t in the place to be going for a walk in that moment (I think the girls were napping!). But instead of giving in to the thought that this mom must be able to go for a walk every morning with her child and feeling sorry for myself, I could choose to pick a time that we could go for a walk in the near future.
While my schedule may not allow me to take walks every single morning with the girls, there are days that we can. And certainly on the weekends and in the evenings. I may not be in the routine of walking every single day, but I can choose times that work for me and be happy about creating that time for us.
This works for whatever it is that you might wish you had. Find a way that you can create that for yourself in your own life. But first, see number three.
3. Ask Yourself if You Really Want That
I used to think I wanted a big house. And a pool. After having a baby, I grew to 100% certainty that I did not want either of those things.
I no longer look at people with bigger houses or pools and wish that I had what they had. This is kind of related to number 1. When you take a closer look at the work and effort that go into maintaining a larger home and pool and maintaining pool safety, you might determine that it’s not for you. Like I did.
Sometimes when I see pictures or other moms out in real life having or doing something I wish I had at first glance, I have to ask myself: but do I really want that? Do I want to have to do what she has to do to keep up an appearance, or do I want to spend that kind of money on something that doesn’t mean much to me personally? Sometimes I find more joy in finding the simpler way of doing something.
4. Maximize Transition Times
This one helps me with the feeling of not dedicating enough time to the girls when they are awake because there’s so much to do. I have recently started focusing more on reading a book first thing when they get up, or right before the next nap or bedtime. Or I try to get in a quick educational activity right after lunch when they are sitting in their booster chairs already.
By taking better advantage of time that is already being dedicated to their care, I feel better about time that we do have together. I feel more grateful for the fact that I do get to be at home instead of wishing I had something different.
I might as well go ahead and admit right now that I will never get the perfect daily routine nailed down, and things will always be changing. But I can intentionally create the moments I do want to have. It doesn’t take much time, and helps me feel grateful for what I have.
5. Think About What You Already Have
This is the basis of my I am grateful for what I have affirmation. I made this last on the list because I think it’s easier said than done to just go from feeling like someone else has the perfect life that you don’t to feeling content with what you have. You kind of have to work through some emotional stuff to get to the place of feeling grateful sometimes.
But after going through all these different thoughts about what someone else’s life is really like and whether or not I actually want something different in my own life, and finding ways to make small improvements in the things I wish were different, then I can get here. And truly feel grateful. Because I have worked through my true feelings.
After going through all this, suddenly feeling grateful becomes easy. Of course I have so much to be grateful for. You start to realize that things actually are good and with a little tweaking here and there on a regular basis, life isn’t so far off from where you sometimes wish it could be.
Do you struggle with mom comparison? How do you keep it in check?