Comparing yourself to others is one of those things that we’ve all done at one point or another and something that, at times, we can do without even realising. It can be all too easy to pick up our phones and scroll through social media, quickly scanning the updates and photos and end up feeling like our lives are lacking in some way compared to everyone else’s. We’re bombarded with story after story about how other people are having a great time and living their best lives, and it can leave us feeling deflated, flat and just plain down, especially if we’re not having a great day to begin with.
Unfortunately, it’s not just social media that can leave us feeling like this. We can get that same feeling from walking down the street or sitting in a coffee shop and noticing someone that seemingly has it all. The perfect hair, the perfect outfit and the picture perfect kids that sit happily playing in the cafe while their Mum enjoys a nice lunch with a friend. Meanwhile, you sit there with unwashed hair, yesterdays tracksuit bottoms on and a screaming toddler running around causing havoc.
As Mums, we can be too hard on ourselves, and as women, we can be too quick to compare ourselves to others. You can find yourself wanting to run over to this perfect woman so you can ask her what her secrets are. How does she have the time to put her makeup on and get herself dressed up in the mornings when you don’t even have time to run a brush through your hair? How does she get her kids to sit and play nicely so she can enjoy a coffee while yours are under someone else’s table picking up who knows what off the floor?
You’re not alone
It’s a situation we’ve all been in. Secretly hating this woman from across the tables, convincing yourself that she had a full night’s sleep, enjoyed a nice hot coffee when she got up and relaxed in the bath while the kids happily ate their breakfast without being forced into it. Eventually, you get yourself so worked up that you drag your now shoeless child out of the door, staring daggers at this woman and telling yourself that you’re a failure as a Mum.
It’s all too easy to look at someone else and think that we know what their life is like, when actually, what we see is only a snapshot. A fleeting moment that doesn’t have any bearing on the picture as a whole.
What we don’t see is that this woman might be going through a messy divorce and is secretly crossing her fingers that her children continue behaving so she can drink her coffee in peace and forget about things for a little while. She might be on her way to drop the kids off at her Mum’s so she can rush off to an interview because she lost her job a week ago and needs to carry on putting food on the table.
We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes unless people tell us, and they very rarely do. Someone may appear to have the perfect life, but actually, it could be far from perfect, and all we’re doing by comparing our life to theirs, is making ourselves feel bad for no reason.
Comparing yourself to others as a Mum
When you become a parent, that feeling can be exaggerated, and sometimes feel isolating. Everyone else seems to know what to do and has it together, but for some reason, you didn’t get given the ‘Parenting Guidebook’ that was seemingly passed around to everyone else as soon as they’d given birth.
If we compare ourselves too much and we spend too much time wishing for something that we don’t have, we could be missing out on what is right in front of us. It’s important to remember what we do have, and what makes us happy in our own lives. It’s also important to remember that even the happiest people in the world have their down days and problems that they have to work through.
When it feels like you’re the only one dealing with all the trials and tribulations of raising little ones, it might help to remember that there are some things that every parent goes through:
Children have tantrums, it’s just part of growing up, and dealing with those tantrums is an inevitable part of parenting. However rich, successful or famous you are, it’s going to happen, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it except to let them wear themselves out and get over it. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong.
It might be embarrassing, and it might feel like everyone is staring at you, but you can be sure that the ‘perfect woman’ sitting at the other table is silently thanking her lucky stars that her kids have decided to behave today.
Although it may seem like everybody else has children that were sleeping through the night, in their own room, for 12 hour stretches when they were 2 days old, it’s not true. Babies aren’t born with the ability to realise they’re tired, take themselves off to bed and fall asleep. It’s something they have to learn, and it takes time.
Everybody that has ever been a parent has been through the sleepless nights. The ones where you’re just dropping off and then they wake up again. The ones where you’re so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open and the ones where you sit on the sofa and watch the sun come up at 5 am with a wide awake baby that just wants to play.
Everybody has sleepless nights, and everybody develops the uncanny ability to survive on little to no sleep at some point.
Relationships take a battering
However rock solid your relationship is, it will wobble a little when you have children, and it’s something that everyone goes through. Lack of sleep, lack of time and changing priorities all begin to take their toll a little bit. Someone’s relationship might look all sunshine and roses on the outside, but you can be sure that they’ve had an argument or two over nappy changes, 4 am wake ups or whose turn it is to put the bins out!
No one looks good 24/7
When you have little ones running around, it’s just not possible to look photoshoot ready every day. Although they might not admit it, everyone has pajama days, everyone has ‘unwashed throw your hair in a bun days’ and everyone has no makeup days. There’s nothing wrong with it, and in fact, it can be a good thing. Take the opportunity to enjoy wearing comfy clothes and having a natural look – it can be freeing.
Does the perfect life exist?
That would depend on what your definition of a perfect life is. What might seem like the perfect life to you, isn’t necessarily the perfect life to someone else. Everybody has something that they don’t like and wish they could change. Body issues, money problems, and family dramas can happen to anyone, regardless of age, wealth or status. The best thing to do is to ignore what everyone else is up to and just concentrate on you. Concentrate on being your own fabulous self and making your life the way you want it.
And, hey, tomorrow you might be the woman in the cafe that everyone is looking at and wondering what the secret is.
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