Society would have you believe that once you have children, you have two options: to be a stay-at-home mom, or a working mom. Yet more women are now choosing to do something in between.
Some run their own businesses and some work from home, and they are still there for school pickups and family dinners. These moms are what we call Flex Moms, and they have a set of struggles and successes that differ from the traditional two models. Here are three tips to make trail-blazing this third model of motherhood even easier.
1. Stop keeping up with the Joneses (i.e. know what you stand for)
You think: This mom has her own cake-baking business, is president of the PTA – how does she keep her kids always looking so clean?! That mom hosts the cutest parties for the kiddos – why do my Pinterest-inspired creations never turn out right?
Never does judgment rear its ugly head more than when you compare yourself to other moms; you might tear them apart to make yourself feel better, or you may just straight up feel bad about yourself. But what do you really know about their lives? And what do those women have anything to do with you? Start by becoming aware of when and what you’re judging, and get curious.
What does it say about you that you admire some moms and are jealous of others? Learn about yourself, and what you actually stand for. It may turn out that you prefer letting your children choose their own outfits; that you prefer spending your time and money on music and food, instead of on decorations – and then be confident in those preferences.
Whether it’s by doing some basic personality, strength, and attribute assessments or completing your own family values ladder, take the time to figure out what YOU and your family stand for. Forget about the rest. You do you the best.
2. Say no when you mean no (i.e. hold space for yourself and your priorities)
If you fill your time doing things just because they’re asked of you, you will run out of time for all the things that you want to do. It’s become reflex to say “maybe” when you’re asked to do something that you might not want to actually do. Once you figure out what you stand for, you will find that you have much less guilt responding with a clear no – and it wastes a lot less time.
Hold space for the things you want to do and prioritize the things that fit your values, interests, and lifestyle. Know that it’s okay to say no if it doesn’t feel right!
3. Keep cell phones away from the dinner table (i.e. be present)
Part of being a Flex Mom is the mindset of flowing through multiple roles, but when you have a lot on your mind, the tendency is to let your brain wander. How else do parents master the skill of reading a book out loud to their kids while mentally creating a checklist of post-bedtime to-dos?
The easiest and possibly most destructive distraction may be keeping technology at the dinner table and interrupting family stories when “just this one thing” comes up on your phone. Practice being present when you have the opportunity, trusting that you’ve created enough time in your life to take care of the other things and relishing each of these moments.
For more information on how to be a flex mom, buy the book: Flex Mom: The Secrets of Happy Stay-at-Home Moms