This post is sponsored by Similac.
Pressure, guilt, anxiety, doubt—these are things we all feel as parents. In addition to happiness, joy, and boundless love, of course.
Everything changes the moment we become moms, and, in some ways, the lives we once knew become totally obsolete. (Did we even really exist before our babies?!) It’s a good thing, but it’s not always easy. It can be hard. It can be stressful. It will be exhausting. It’s nice to know that we’re not alone—to be reminded that there are lots of other women out there feeling the exact same way.
A few weeks ago, I joined Similac and a group of bloggers and moms in NYC to panel about the biggest challenges and greatest rewards of raising babies and toddlers. From feeding picky eaters to living up to those unrealistic Pinterest projects, we chatted about all the demands on today’s modern moms.
While sipping coffee and getting manicures in the gorgeous garden-party setting, we enjoyed a humorous presentation from bloggers Lynzy Coughlin of Lynzy and Co., and Lauren McBride of Lauren McBride Blog. As mothers of infants and toddlers, they were able to reenact some seriously relatable scenes and situations from mealtime in their homes. Distracted eating, messy eating, barely eating—you name it, they covered it. Because we’re all living it.
We broke for lunch and more pampering, and chatted amongst ourselves. I met many moms, and marveled at how everyone had their own story. We talked about our kids—how many, what ages, what grades, which summer camps, which pediatricians. That’s what happens—get some moms together and conversations ensue. Because we’re all living it.
Next, it was on to the main portion for the event: the mom-blogger panel, featuring Modern Day Moms, Everyday Reading, Happily Hughes, Lynzy & Co., Lauren McBride Blog, and yours truly. The first topic up for debate: Mommyhood in the age of social media. It’s a whole new ballgame out there, and a time of competence, comparison, competition, and commiseration. It can make us feel like total heroes; it can make us feel like terrible failures. I’m pretty sure we would still be going if they didn’t cut us off.
As bloggers, it’s hard not to get caught up in the social-media frenzy. We want to have viral pins and attractive Instagram feeds and popular Facebook accounts. But real life does not necessarily look like a perfectly styled, well-curated Instagram post. Real life, as a mom, is more gritty, less pretty. We may strive for perfection, but when the witching hour rolls around and the kids are filthy and hungry and cranky, an aesthetically pleasing flat-lay photo is not going to bathe, feed, and tuck your babies into bed. Here’s the big social-media takeaway: use it, enjoy it, but don’t let the desire for likes and re-pins and retweets dominate your day. Live your life—and if you can get a great Instagram snap, kudos to you. And if you can’t, well, you’re still doing just fine. I should know. I’m living it. We’re all living it.
Feeding time was another major talking point—because, of course, getting a one-year-old or an 18-month-old or a stubborn-as-nails toddler to eat a balanced diet is not for the fainthearted. We swapped tips, shared stories, and laughed about the potential disaster that is dinnertime. We were asked how we make meals more engaging and fun for our little ones. My answer was simple: interaction.
I used to feed my children first and then shovel food down my throat and on a plate for my husband as an afterthought. It was rushed and frazzled and entirely unpleasant. Now we’re trying to sit down at the table together at least three times a week. And if the kids don’t feel like eating what I made, that’s fine. (There’s always the next meal!) But the point is, they have to sit there. We tell jokes and play peek-a-boo and try to make it a bonding experience. Sometimes it’s a success, other times it’s not (we’re all living it)—and practice will hopefully, one day, lead to (imperfect) perfection.
I also talked about how I’ve stopped fretting about the mess and mayhem at meals. I used to get caught up in dictating the “proper” way to eat. “Use your spoon! Don’t throw that on the floor.” But now I just go with the flow. My daughter basically bathes herself in yogurt at lunch every day. She gives herself a facial—and sometimes she gives me one too. As long as she’s enjoying it, getting protein and calcium and having a good time to boot, why should I stop her? (Plus, her skin is always radiant!)
Later, we talked about the pressure we put on ourselves to be everything for our kids and our husbands and our families and friends and coworkers. We talked about the way we blame, doubt, and shame ourselves. We discussed ways we can be nice to ourselves and kinder to each other. Even moms in the audience partook in the conversation—because, yeah, we’re all living it.
We closed out the panel by each giving a piece advice for “life on the go” as a mom. My tip: pick your battles. If your son only wants to eat white bread for dinner at a restaurant, if your daughter “needs” to wear mismatching socks to the grocery store, if your kids demand to watch a program in the car or to bring a favorite toy to the dinner table, set rules, instill limitations, be a role model, and then pick your battles. Know your threshold and when to say uncle—and, FYI, you’re the only one who can determine when that is for your family. For my crew, a little flexibility and a “go with the flow’” mindset can take us from meltdown to calm down. You do what you’ve got to do to get through the day. You know, we’re all living it. So, you do you, Mom. You’re doing just fine.
That’s the reminder I needed—and got—at the Similac Mom’s Garden Party Luncheon.