How to win at the game of motherhood without losing your mind

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Do you ever feel like you were a better parent before you had kids? I do. I remember spending years becoming an expert on motherhood and parenting. I read the books, the magazines, the mommy blogs, and talked to friends who worked with children. I was going to be the best mom in the whole world. My baby wouldn’t sleep through the night and I would be fine with it. I’d sleep when he/she slept and we’d love every minute of it. My kids would throw tantrums, but I would handle them with grace and never lose my cool.

Then I had my first child.

My itty-bitty squishy baby girl didn’t follow any of the scripts laid out in my years of research. There I was flailing and failing as a brand-new mom with nowhere to turn. Everywhere I looked, it seemed every woman had it together but me. I saw sweet babies dressed head-to-toe in coordinating outfits free from spit-up or poop stains. Other babies were so sweet smelling. My little girl’s feet were so stinky that every nurse who cared for us in the hospital mentioned it.

I was drowning in a sea of comparison.

I thought if I read more books and pored over my friends’ Facebook feeds, I’d magically get it. I thought they had it all because they knew it all, but I was wrong. The truth is mothering is a challenge for all of us in our own ways. Their lives were their lives, and I was only being shown a pinpoint perspective of what they were choosing to share. But I didn’t see it at the time. I was comparing their highlights to my lowlights, and I allowed comparison to bully me into feeling inadequate, unsatisfied and envious.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever wondered why other women can do what you can’t or why their kids behave better? It’s an awful place to be. But what if you could look at your life with new eyes and feel good about what you see? What if you could feel good about your kids and how you parent them? I think – through years of trial and error – I’ve found the secret.

We need to stop trying to do it all alone.

Mothering is hard. Even today, it’s the nastiest competitive sport I’ve ever played. Though any of us can sit out the game if we want, it’s hard when you’re surrounded by competition and criticism. Even if you don’t want to compare, others will make comparisons for you. So what’s a mom to do? Huddle up, that’s what.

Surround yourself with people who are in your corner, who want you to succeed and to feel good about your success. Realize that not only do you not have to do this mom thing alone, you shouldn’t. You weren’t meant to. From the beginning, motherhood was designed as a team sport with a community of people gathering together to raise up the next generation. Somewhere along the way, we lost our perspective.

Here’s the deal, we’re all unique. You have gifts I don’t have. I have gifts you don’t have. If you’re a sports fan, you know you can’t have a winning football team with only quarterbacks on the field any more than you can have a winning baseball team with only pitchers. You need players who can throw, catch, hit and block. Motherhood is no different.

The secret to my success is a Dream Team.

I have built a Mommy Dream Team – a team of people who stand in the gap to cover what I can’t.

I have multiple players in every position because living a big life requires a big team, but that’s not the case for everyone. The important thing is that your team lifts you up when you’re feeling down, offers gentle guidance when you’re stuck instead of harsh criticism, brings their strengths to offset your weaknesses – and doesn’t shame you for any of it.

My team is unstoppable. They don’t make this mom thing easy but they make it easier – I do the same for them (I bring the gift of food to the game). We lift each other up, we encourage one another. They are my Dream Team because they help me to be the mom of my dreams.

Now it’s your turn.

What about you? What would your mothering journey feel like if you had a Dream Team to lean on? Do you already have one? Would you like to create one?

If this sounds like the secret to your sanity but you don’t know where to start, I have a resource to offer: a free download that walks you through the steps to draft your very own Mommy Dream Team – the hand-selected team that will make you feel like a superstar mom. Subscribe to this blog, and you’ll receive it as my gift to you. Already subscribed? Email and the team will get you the download right away.

Tonya Kubo is co-director of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group, founded by author/speaker Kathi Lipp and based on her best-selling book, Clutter Free. Tonya and her husband, Brian, are raising two spirited girls in the agricultural heart of California. By day, she cultivates community in digital spaces. At night, you can find her either cooking, cuddling or helping others to fight the demons of comparison, clutter and compulsion.

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