Mom Guilt is a very real and a very detrimental phenomenon in the 21st century and it’s beating us down one exhausted Mommy at a time. We are pressured on all sides and it seems like everyone from the total stranger at the grocery store to your best friend has an opinion. With the advent of unfiltered outspokenness on social media platforms, we have more voices shouting at us about the proper way to parent than ever before. The problem is that we allow this pressure to make us feel guilty about the parenting decisions we make, even though we are all just trying to do the best we can. I find myself lying awake at night questioning everything from self-soothing to non-toxic sunscreens and my child is only four months old. I can just imagine the mental torture that must come from raising people old enough to start making decisions for themselves! Then your kids have their own opinions to add to the mix. From daycare to birthday parties to family vacations, we want to provide our kids with the top of the line. We get caught up and often pursue this to the detriment of our finances even though we all know that important things like character and integrity are qualities money can’t buy our kids. So let’s have a little pep talk together and reign in this ridiculous, self-inflicted guilt. This whole Mom thing is hard and we’re nailing it most of the time and that’s awesome. This T-shirt can be our new tribe uniform:
You can get your very own here on Etsy by NapTimeCreationsShop (Don’t forget to go through Ebates to save money!). Here are some reminders for all of us about Mommin’ well while sticking to the budget:
Social Media Never Tells the Whole Story
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Obviously, I run a website and social media comes with the territory. I enjoy that part. I also love to see my friends’ family photos, read interesting articles, and watch viral videos of cat fails (I laugh until there are tears). The struggle with social media, and I think we’ve all been there, is when I see someone else’s life and start to think they have it better than me. I’m scrolling through the feeds and everybody else seems to own a designer kitchen and their kids are dressed in boutique clothing. They’ve all recently been on an elaborate vacation and they get their nails done once a week while sipping Starbucks. They feed their family healthy, organic dinners in between donating to charity and fitting into their blue jeans from 10 years ago. Meanwhile, we’re living in a rental pinching our pennies and wearing hand-me-downs while we make our own coffee at home.
Before I opened the computer, I was perfectly content with our lovely home, frugal habits, and adorable clothing from sweet friends (seriously, my kid is so much more trendy than I am). Fifteen minutes into my Facebook feed, my whole life feels shabby and I’m ready to abandon the budget and complain about everything as soon as my husband walks in the door (he loves being greeted like this, by the way. Your husband probably does, too). I wish I could tell you that I had better self control and that I could look at other people and always be happy for them, but that’s just not real life. Some days it doesn’t happen that way and I have to remind myself that things are rarely EVER the way they seem on social media. There will always be more than meets the eye. One of my good friends posted a picture of her toddler at Disney World being fireman carried through the park by her weary father while she had a total meltdown. That’s the rest of the story. We should all make it a point to add a picture like that into our unrealistically perfect Facebook feeds just to give others a little encouragement.
Remember, no matter what everybody else is doing, you are doing what is best for your family right now. Stick to the plan, sister. Your time will come.
Expensive Childcare isn’t Necessarily Better
While I was on maternity leave after adopting our baby, I remember talking to a friend about daycare vs hiring a nanny. We had looked into a couple places and talked to a college student and I still didn’t really know what we were going to do. I kind of felt “meh” about all of the choices. My very wise friend said, “You’re never going to love any of them because no one else is you.” Such true words! Spending $40,000 a year on a Mary Poppins-level Nanny would not alleviate the guilt I sometimes feel for not being there myself. No one else is going to tell my child 437 times a day how much she is loved or smother her with kisses every time she’s being cute. They won’t change her diaper every 35 minutes to keep the diaper rash from getting worse. Those are the things we do for her all but thirty hours a week and we have to trust someone else to care for her during that small chunk of time when we’re both at work. My husband and I had to sit down and figure out our must-haves for childcare. We decided we wanted a happy environment where our child would be snuggled and fed and kept as safe and healthy as possible. We didn’t necessarily need an expensive daycare that played Mozart in the background while masters-level caretakers taught toddlers about the Krebs cycle. We went with a middle-of-the-line daycare that met all of those requirements.
There are a lot of mornings when I fight guilt all the way from the daycare to work, but I would still be fighting the same feelings if she was staying with the most expensive caretaker money could buy. Most of us spent at least a little bit of time in daycare as children and we don’t resent our parents for it. Our kids probably won’t go to therapy about it either. Find safe, affordable childcare that you’re comfortable with and stop second-guessing yourself.
Y’all, technology is so overrated. Look at Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper- their kids don’t even have a television much less a cell phone and their family is basically perfect, right?! Seriously, do not let yourself feel guilty because you haven’t bought your kid the latest and greatest in technology. There is nothing wrong with that. The rule in my house growing up was that we could get a basic cell phone when we started driving. Most of our friends had cell phones long before that. Sure, we felt a little lame for not having a phone, but we were just fine. My youngest sibling is still under 16 and he’s not suffering too much either. Granted, he has all of our cell phones to play with most of the time. By not getting your kid a cell phone or other expensive electronic, you’re forcing him to do things like talk to actual humans, help around the house, read a book, or walk outside. There are worse things you could do to him.
When the Apple Watches first came out, I remember seeing a teenager wearing one. Fascinated, because I thought the price of these things would make them somewhat scarce in real life, I said, “Wow! Is that the new Apple Watch??” His mother looked at me and said, “Yes, he just has to have all the new Apple technology.” I think my mouth fell open. I really hope I dismissed myself gracefully, but I’m not quite sure what happened next. I wanted to say something about being a twenty-something with a career who doesn’t even own an iPad. Friends, your child does not, in fact, need the latest Apple invention. You can just toss that Mom guilt behind you and move on.
Secondhand is Awesome!
We are first-time parents, but the only new items we have purchased for our child are bottle nipples, a carseat, a onesie to announce our adoption, sunglasses, and a few headbands (because I couldn’t resist). Of course, we were given new items at showers as well. Almost everything else, including furniture, was either handed down or bought from consignment stores. We have everything we need and much more. Everything was in like-new condition. Babies go through stages of development so quickly that they hardly even use each piece of equipment before they are on to the next. The same goes for clothing. She has the most adorable secondhand clothes, but she’s only gotten to wear each outfit a few times before she was too big for it. At $7-10 a piece new, I would have been crying in the corner over each over-priced, outgrown garment if I had bought them. There is nothing in the world wrong with buying your child’s clothing used or accepting hand-me-downs from friends.
If you buy consignment items, make sure all fabric pieces can be removed and washed in hot water. Wipe down all large plastic items with cleaner and throw everything else that will fit into your bottle sterilizer. Note that we did buy a new carseat. This one is super important so if you have any doubts about the safety of a used carseat, skip it and buy new. We bought our carseat from an Ebay store when Ebates had a 10% cash back promotion for Ebay baby purchases. Wait for an awesome deal like that and the new carseat won’t be such a painful purchase.
Dump the Mom Guilt
Let’s all just decide that, starting today, we are not going to feel bad when we choose to save money on our kids. We are going to remind ourselves and each other that this does not make us bad parents. In fact, it might just make us even better parents. Most likely, these things will not land our kids in therapy when they’re older. The best we can do is good enough. We’ll wear our Etsy T-shirts, stretchy pants, and messy buns and stand together as frugal Moms who are working as hard as we can to provide a better financial future for our kids. There’s no shame in that.
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