Dear mama, you were never meant to do it all

Dear Mama,

You were never meant to do it all, and you certainly were never meant to do it all perfectly. Those curated images you see on social media are a lie. The guilt you feel 24/7 perpetuates the false belief that you need to be a perfect parent. Dr. Leesha, MD, MPH, and Happy Family Organics' Happy Baby Expert said it best: "There are no perfect kids or perfect parents, and societal expectations for moms are flat out unrealistic and unattainable."

Nonetheless, we buy into these expectations, and we believe the lie that we need to do it all perfectly. Mama, for your own sanity, please stop believing the lie.

Your kids don't need to be in every activity. In fact, they don't need to be in any activities. They can eat lunch on the couch today. You can turn on the TV to get a break. Your house can be messy. You can admit that you need help, because you were never meant to do it all.

In the past, moms really did have villages to help them raise their kids. Today, although it's easy to send someone a quick text, we're physically more apart than ever. Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician and founder of Happiest Baby, says about the tragic loss of the village for today's parents: "Today if you have a nanny, you're well-off… [One hundred] years ago and for the entire history of humanity, you had five nannies." He went on to explain that you had grandmas, aunts, siblings, cousins who lived next door, and maybe a teenage neighbor all helping to take care of your children on a daily basis. Most of us simply don't live in a world where that type of community exists anymore. In fact, the idea of a village almost seems mythical.

In decades past, Dr. Karp explained, parents didn't have to work to have a social life for their kids; it was all right there. Today, we need to consciously create a village. We plan play dates, pay for preschool, and finally ask for help when we feel so overwhelmed that we can't do it all.

Remember: this isn't how it was supposed to be. You were supposed to have support. You were supposed to have validation. You were supposed to do your best and know that it was good enough. You were not supposed to do it all.

Moms today feel the pressure to plan picture-perfect birthday parties, pack Pinterest-worthy lunches, and raise respectful kids who only use screens for an hour a day. (I write this as I ask my toddler to stop rubbing ChapStick all over her body while I listen to Mickey Mouse solve the same mystery for the 50th time.) Something has to give. We simply cannot do everything without that elusive village that most families today sorely lack. For many moms today, the thing that gives is self care. We run ourselves ragged trying to do all the things and maintain a picture of perfection.

So what do we do instead of doing it all? As Dr. Leesha put it, we extend the same grace to ourselves that we give to our babies. We do what we can. We try our best. We ask for help. We stop pretending we can do it all.