Her hair is perfect, her clothes are fashionable (and fashionably free of baby vomit) and her children are star athletes/future Nobel-winning scientists. She's the "perfect" mother. Except she isn't. You've just got yourself a bad case of mom envy.
What is mom envy?
Being a mom is, no joke — one of the hardest jobs in the world. It demands your time, your energy and your heart. Which means it's easy to start to feel run-down and more than a little ragged. Who has time to dress nicely or create Pinterest-worthy snacks, when you're trying to load up both a giant diaper bag and that awkward baby carrier? And if money's tight, you won't be able to justify the hobbies or beauty indulgences you used to love. You know, the ones that made you feel pretty and like your best self.
Insert social media, and the curated feeds of those makeup-perfect moms effortlessly juggling toddlers and side hustles, teenagers and empire-building. They never lock themselves in the bathroom to cry. They never get into a battle of wills with a four-year-old — and lose.
Except they do. That's the thing about envy, though. It manipulates your perceptions, isolating you inside a sphere of "I'll never be as good as that" thinking. Mom envy is a real issue for a lot of mothers and something we could all do well to tune into a little bit better. Because it doesn't matter if this is your first child or your third: motherhood is hard. And competing to look like World's Best Mom hurts all of us.
12 tips for overcoming mom envy.
1. Be aware of your perceptions.
If you're main source of mom envy springs from the old Instagram feed, remember: you're seeing this woman at her absolute best. When you're low, it's so easy to compare that to your worst day and just feel awful about the difference. So remind yourself: Those ladies look that good on purpose. They worked on it.
2. Don't hate. Appreciate.
Maybe you have a real-life model of mom envy, like the neighbor mom you see walking her perfectly polished kids to school every day. Rather than allow your envy to let you think badly about yourself when you see her, teach yourself to think (or even tell her) something nice about her. Science has proven that the act of giving compliments can do you a whole lot of good as well.
3. Dig a little deeper.
Okay, she's perfect. She's got it all. But what does that really mean? Do you envy how involved she is with her kids' clubs and sports? Or do you admire the way she balances her own social life with being a mom? Figuring out exactly what you envy is the key to getting you out of the salt zone.
4. Accept that some people just nail it.
Some women just seem to have that ability to look completely put together no matter what (looking at you, French women). Kids or no kids, she is always going to look nice. If that's the source of your mom envy, don't let your jealousy color your perception of your own look or style. Just because she looks great doesn't mean you don't.
5. Don't deny it. Write it down.
Jealous? Let it happen! Pick up a pen and go to town about all the stuff she's got going for her that you don't and all the ways she shows you up. Exhaust your mom envy on the page, and then put the page away for a day. When you pick it up again, pay attention to the pain points you hit. They'll show you exactly where you need to do a little work to resolve those underlying issues.
6. Ask yourself, "What does she worry about?"
The things she mentions most in her posts or is always so careful to drop into any conversation reveal what your source of mom envy is insecure about. Learning to spot her own instances of self-consciousness may gift you a measure of forgiveness toward yourself. Because no one is immune to insecurity.
7. Build yourself up without tearing others down.
Try taking time away from all sources of jealousy. Use this time to create an inventory of all the ways in which you're a good mom and a successful woman. No compliment is too small to give yourself, here. Make this a list of high points to bring out in hard times.
8. Reach out — you'll be surprised.
The woman who has it all, or so it seems, may be suffering under the strain of appearances. In fact, there's a pretty good chance she's just as tired and scruffy-feeling as you are. Talk to her, ask her a question or give her a compliment. Becoming friends with someone you envy is an eye-opening experience.
9. Appreciate the motivation.
Remember those pain points you found in yourself? Your mom envy is letting you know what issues you have. Let it also motivate you to do something about them. No, you won't ever be perfect, but you can do the work to make the changes in your lifestyle or headspace that will put you in a better place overall.
10. Question your insecurities.
Because, come on, are you really as bad as that? Long nights and early mornings can make you feel as if you look your worst, that you're always yelling at your kids, that you are, in fact, a terrible mother. But...are you? Probably not. Learn to pay attention to that voice in your head and how you talk to yourself.
So many of us have our phones always near at hand, and we're so quick to pull up social media any time we have a few quiet moments. If online mom envy is really starting to bite you, try to curb that habit. Keep a good book or a notebook handy. Whenever you feel the urge to start scrolling, make a conscious decision to feed yourself something a little better this time.
12. Talk about it!
Jealousy is acidic, and keeping it all inside is dangerous. Instead, bring it up to friends and family, especially other mothers, and let yourself be completely honest about how you feel and what you struggle with. For one thing, you'll be surprised at just how common everything you're feeling is. For another, you'll just feel lighter. Mom envy is universal, but, with a little time and conscious effort, you can totally curb that green-eyed mommy monster.