I am attempting something for the first time with this article and it's scary. So I figured why not start right there… how can you find confidence as a mother? This is my first mindset blog post and it's something I've wanted to provide for my readers for some time. If I'm struggling with these things then so too are you. I'm not qualified in any way other than for the simple fact that I am a mother myself. I guess being a mother is anything but simple though isn't it?!
DISCLAIMER: I hope you enjoy this article. But you may not agree with what I have to say. And that's okay with me. You landed here for a reason and I hope you find what you're looking for.
You're a mum, you're naturally fierce AF
Before I get into it, here's a backstory to the reason for this week's motivation. As I mentioned, creating more meaningful articles is something I've wanted to do for some time. But who am I to provide deeper level thinking and inspired conversation? Parenting is a tough gig and the internet can sometimes be a scary and hateful place when you start speaking your mind and your feelings.
I'm not one to usually allow unfounded opinions of others to get to me. But when you start on about my children or my parenting, I'm fierce and often unreasonable AF. Even the slightest thing will trigger me when it comes to those topics. I don't care if I'm unreasonable… these are my feelings so now you just have to deal with what you let out.
Isn't that what makes us all amazing mothers? The lengths we will go to for our children. Sure you may not always have the confidence to back yourself up (mummy guilts multiple times a day anyone?!). But there's a level of dont-mess-with-me fierceness in all of us when it comes to our children. It can be difficult when others seem to challenge that with their unwanted opinions.
The unwanted opinion that made it all clear to me
So this thing happened. I received my first online haters (I knew it was a matter of time). In fact it was several people on social media. I'm assuming one of my hashtags got that all started. I was posting a video of a children's chore chart from my shop. I totally understand some people may take issue with the word “chores” which is why I have other versions with different wording. These people spammed me and bombarded me with their opinions on why it was lazy parenting and child abuse.
I was horrified. First and foremost for followers and customers who may read these comments and question their parenting choices. It can be difficult to block out noise when nobody truly knows how to parent. We're all just giving it our best with what suits our circumstances, our children and ourselves.
Confidence in your choices
I have confidence in providing responsibilities for my children. My ASD kiddo needs them or he can't function and there are meltdowns. I wondered why these people were making assumptions about my children and my parenting? Who are they to judge me and so many others? And why do they even feel the need to be so arrogantly vocal to complete strangers?
We all have different parenting styles. We aren't all parenting a carbon copy of the exact same child. So why can't we be different and just do what works for us without being judged for it?
I ignored it all, knowing I was confident and happier for it. I don't feel the need to tell people they're living their life wrong as I have much better things to do with my time. Also, I simply don't care because my brain and my life are full already. After my hate spam, I realised that I was actually stronger than I thought. I can handle people giving me their unwanted opinions and know that I'll still be confident in my choices. It was this moment that lead me to write this article and the beginning of more just like it.
By the way, those chore/reward/responsibility charts are one of my best sellers. Because although not everyone thinks this (which is totally okay), I know that many people agree with me. Responsibility trackers are a great resource for managing children's behaviour.
So many opinions on being a Mother
Everyone has an opinion on how to fall pregnant; what to do during your pregnancy; during child birth; newborn days, toddler years; tween years; teenage years and the rest of it! It just seems never-ending. Mothers aren't strangers to this. Most people close to you do this out of the goodness of their hearts. But it's not always received that way.
Loved ones can and absolutely will have their own opinions. On you and what you are doing. But you don't need to listen to them. It begins to get confusing, particularly as a new mum. With so many pieces of advice, you could be trying so many different things. And they may not work, for a variety of reasons (which is a whole other blog post).
In my own experience, I've found that like most things in life, if you aren't consistent you won't get the results. This could be finding confidence, parenting, better mental health and so much more.
More noise, more confusion
Like many new mums, I really struggled to get my babies to sleep. I was Googling for hours all day and night for a solution. I was desperately trying to find what worked for others and hoping for a miracle. I'd try something once and if it didn't work then I'd get upset, feel hopeless and move onto the next thing. Each time feeling a little more defeated and like less of a mother.
I was taking in so much information and advice from other people (mostly by choice at this point). I had to remind myself to seek out someone who knew what they were talking about. I decided to hire a baby whisperer to come to my home and tell me how to get my baby to sleep.
My baby whisperer was brilliant. She educated me and showed me how to create the best sleep environment in my home. She tailored our sleep plan toward my parenting style and my baby. This woman knew what she was talking about and it gave me confidence.
I blocked out everything else I was hearing and listened only to her. Even when the techniques didn't work some days, I was consistent and kept at it. Being consistent is what my babies loved, they learned what I needed from them. Even though we struggled some days, once I confidently persisted with my techniques, life was so much better.
When there is so much noise resulting in confusion, you can't be confident and consistent in your choices. You can feel a mix of different emotions about yourself and also anyone who gives you their unwanted opinions. You can begin to doubt yourself and your choices.
Self-doubt creeps in
The reason we have self-doubt in the first place is that someone put it there. Did you come into this life doubting yourself and your abilities? No. Think about that overconfident kid who rocks the superhero costume at the supermarket. He hasn't had his heart crushed yet as to why it's apparently unacceptable to wear this attire in public. He doesn't have self-doubt… yet.
You've learned this self-doubt from someone and becoming a parent can absolutely skyrocket that. But you can unlearn it. Actually, you don't even need to do that. Just block it out. Simple right?! Ha ha. Not always, not when it's what you've believed for so long. Or if, like my sleep story above, you're desperately trying anything and everything to find a solution. Self-doubt was there in some form before you became a parent. It can just amplify once you're there.
I don't feel that doubting yourself is something any of us can ever get away from but it's definitely bigger for some than others. Ask yourself where it is coming from. Can you pinpoint who made you feel this way or when? Perhaps it's exposure to a group of people or even just reading, watching, or listening to things over time (more about that below).
Does this person's opinion actually matter to you?
Does this person's opinion actually matter to you? Really? I mean, really? And if it does, then why?
Okay, sure it might be a family member who you value but it doesn't mean that every opinion they have has to mean something to you. I remember something one of my fave mindset coaches said about over-opinionated people and unsolicited advice… would you trade places with this person? I'm referring to everything about their lives. Do they have the exact life you want? Would you drop your life and take everything, every single aspect that comes with theirs? I doubt it.
If this is someone who is close to you then they're probably trying to help you. And that's great. But as I mentioned, you don't have to always take their advice. You need to start listening to yourself and your gut instinct. That will help you decide which advice is good for you and which isn't. The more you do this, the more natural it will become. You'll know when to block out unwanted noise from other people and become confident as a parent or just as a woman in general.
How do you do it when you're a busy mum?
I hear you, there's no time for all the things. We are all busy mamas and often get caught up in life. We're too busy for things like self-care or having a “real” social life. These are both important but they look different to everyone. When you're busy it's hard to find time for having fun, relaxing, mental health, quality friendships and all that. They're always at the bottom of the priority list, all of the time. That priority list is long and full of lots of important things. So how do you fit in all of these things?
I'll briefly touch on what I've found works for me. I like to think that life has ebbs and flows. Sometimes I'm rockin' at being a mum and not so much in my career. That's because it's the school holidays and I've decided to put time into experiences with my kids. Other times I have to put work ahead of kids or a clean house or socialising or self-care (any of those things).
I make a point of choosing to focus on 1-2 aspects and doing them well for a while, whilst other things take a back seat. It could be a couple of weeks and sometimes it's a few months. I know I'll be back to do them well again soon. It can be hard to juggle everything but you can only do what you can do.
Now we've established we're all busy, your time is precious so spend it wisely. Please, please don't overthink this though, that's the last thing I want you to do. Prior to my marriage breakdown, I found a little phrase that would help me sort through my thoughts and feelings. And that was “will this make me happy?”.
I applied it to everything and every choice I had to make. I wasn't allowed to question how it would make someone else feel. It was about me. Because you forget to be selfish when you're a mum, right?! Think about who you are spending your time with and those you choose to surround yourself with. Do they make you happy? Do you admire them? How do they think? Do they inspire you?
Who are you surrounding yourself with?
Even though I'm sure most of us don't want to admit it, you tend to start thinking the same way as the company you keep. If they're belittling others, always negative or anything along those lines then you'll start to think and behave that same way. Even worse, you'll begin questioning yourself and self-doubt will creep right in. Are these people actually good for you? Be selfish! If they're not good for you then you need to find others who are.
Now I'm not telling you to ditch all of your friends and family. We all go through moments in life where we're not the best company because we're going through something. Being there for them is what a beautiful person does, your peeps are so fortunate to have an amazing person like you in their life! Just don't let it be to the detriment of yourself and your mental health. You can choose to walk away, even if it is just for a little while.
Some people we can't remove from our lives. Try to shift the boundaries or spend less time together. Be aware if they're toxic for you. Know that their opinions don't make you who you are. Only your opinions can do that.
Make sure you are getting your advice from someone who is actually worth listening to.
Learning + being motivated
If you need some new amazing people to encourage, motivate and inspire you then you need to go and find them! Think about where you might find those people and hang out there. Chances are they'll have similar interests to you. They might be part of a specific community group or social group. It doesn't have to be in person. Start with something like a Facebook group or some sort of online community. From the right people, you will learn and grow. You will be confident in your choices.
Okay, so perhaps you have an amazing girl gang or family or partner who is super supportive. Congratulations! I'm so happy for you, it truly is a wonderful gift. If you wish, there are other areas you can look to besides just the people we surround ourselves with. These are also helpful if you're short on time or don't have a lot of people around you.
Listen to podcasts or watch videos on YouTube. Listen to the stories of others. Find people who can help lift your spirits and inspire confidence. The more your brain hears it, the sooner you'll find yourself actually believing in it. Be open to listening and learning. I'll repeat it again… just ensure you are listening to the right people.
Trust in your gut instinct
When I became a solo mum I quickly had to learn to speak up for my children and myself. And I don't mean just to their father but for a bunch of other reasons. My ex-husband used to be that person, I was the person in our marriage who avoided conflict at all costs. It was hard finding that voice and something I still struggle with.
Confidence and believing in yourself can take some time to repair. Sometimes you're just faced with a difficult decision and all you can do is go with your gut instinct. I found that even if it's an emotional response that can't be explained, that's okay, you should go with it anyway.
We can't have it together all the time nor get it right all the time when it comes to parenting (and pretty much everything in life!). Children are so unpredictable and change boundaries, things will work some of the time and then they won't at other times. This is especially true for the itty bitty children.
You just need to keep showing up and trying your best. Remember my words about consistency? Not all days will be great days. It can be hard to find confidence or block out that unwanted advice. Learn to have grace with yourself, that it's okay. Celebrate the wins, even if they're only brief moments. Then draw from them when you're having a crappy day. Because there'll be plenty of opportunities to kick ass tomorrow.
You've got this courageous mama
My apologies if you were expecting a cheat sheet or a list of things to do when you need courage and confidence as a mother. It might be helpful to have that list of how to respond when someone gives you their unwanted advice. This topic could really go on for days. But you only have control over your reactions and not someone else's. This is why it's good to start with your core beliefs. Work on these things first and know that you've got this.
Teaching children how to be adults and helping them to grow can be difficult. Especially if it's a path you're still learning to walk yourself. It is my hope to instil in my children lessons on life and true bravery (not the fake glorified kind). We are all stumbling through as parents and we can only do our best. Find that confidence, crush self-doubt and surround yourself with like-minded people and you'll be well on your way to being one courageous mama!
Is there an aspect to this article that you'd like to read more about? Perhaps you have tips on how you have managed to find courage as a mother and block out those unwanted opinions. I'd love for you to leave a note in the comments below.
A note about this article: These are my experiences, things I have learned and used to pull myself out of dark places or just to keep myself growing mentally and emotionally. I have no qualifications in this field. I do have the ability to reflect on past actions, situations, and mistakes as well as all the things I've kicked butt at. I'm a solo mum of two boys, with creative and entrepreneurial dreams. Perhaps I am someone you can relate to? If so then great! If my experiences can help just one person then that's awesome.
But hey, if you don't relate to me or agree with the words I say then that's okay too. I respect your opinion to feel differently. I learned not so long ago that we can't be everything to everyone, I wish you well and hope you find what you're looking for. We all need people to look to. Keep learning and surrounding yourself with those that encourage and inspire you.
Other resources you may like:
FREEBIE: Printable Baby Milestone Cards (Pink or Blue)
FREEBIE: Women's Affirmation Cards
ARTICLE: Cute Mom/Mum + Me Printable Activity Gift
ARTICLE: End Boredom with these 59 At Home Activities for Kids
SHOP: Organisation + Reward Charts