“Why can’t I be like her?” If you find yourself often thinking this way, you may be feeling mum envy. It’s all too easy to start questioning yourself, especially when you see other mothers who seem to be leading perfect lives.
Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr B L Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, notes that all mothers all want to be perfect, so as to provide the best environment for their children to grow up in. Adding that the expectations they set are usually impossible, he points out that these mothers may end up feeling envious because they observe other mums doing well in an area they aren’t.
Psychologist Daniel Koh from Insights Mind Centre adds that parents “promote their best rather than telling what is really happening, so others feel that they are good at what they are doing”. This is how unrealistic expectations are set.
Mum envy has negative impacts on the family ― Koh notes that depression, stress, anxiety and anger can eventually result from negative thoughts. Dr Lim highlights that parents will be unable to enjoy their relationship with their little ones, which will affect their ability to bond.
Koh notes that depression, stress, anxiety and anger can eventually result from negative thoughts.
Here are ways to overcome mum envy:
1. Remind yourself that you are doing your best
Although you may feel that you are lacking at some aspects of parenthood, it is important to know that it’s okay because you are trying your best. Koh notes that mums should “remember that every mother is doing their best and learning from their daily experiences”. Dr Lim tells us that mothers must realise that it’s impossible to be perfect.
2. Know that every child is different
Just because you see another mum parenting in a different way from you doesn’t mean that it’s the most effective way for your child. Noting that every child is different, so one set of rules may not work for all, Koh adds that you, as the parent, are the one who knows best what works for your child. So, you should so much about how other mums deal with their kids as you know your own child best.
3. Focus on the more important things
When you end up focusing too much on how other mums are “performing”, it’s easy to end up what is actually more important, like spending time with your child. Dr Lim explains that the most important part of bringing up a child is bonding with them. He adds that bonding can only be carried out effectively when you enjoying spending time with your little one.
4. It isn’t a competition
Remind yourself that parenting isn’t a competition, and if someone you know starts comparing her child with yours, just respond calmly and refrain from carrying on with the conversation. For instance, you can say things like “good for you”, so that the conversation dies.
5. Turn it into a compliment
When you find yourself getting negative thoughts looking at another mum, turn your thoughts into a compliment for that mum, rather than bashing yourself.
The most important part of bringing up a child is bonding with them.
6. Get a different perspective
We may not be the fairest judge of our own abilities as we tend to beat ourselves up. If you get negative thoughts, try thinking of yourself from a third person’s point of view ― for instance, if your friend is in your situation, you probably wouldn’t be as harsh on her. Koh also suggests talking to your spouse or a close friend for “a viewpoint you may have missed out”.
7. Know that what you see isn’t everything
Other mums may look like they’ve got it all together, but just like our social media feeds, you often don’t see the full story. Koh explains that parents often “see a snapshot of things and presume that all is good”, which gives them unrealistic expectations. He points out that people “promote their best rather than tell what is really happening”, so it is important to remember this.
8. Ask other mums for tips
Rather than just feeling envious or in awe of another mother, why not take the step to approach her and ask her for some tips on how she gets certain things done?Who knows, you may end up making a new friend!
In case you missed these stories…