Feeling Inadequate As a Mom? Four Simple Tips to Let That Feeling Go

My oldest is ten, and I still find myself feeling inadequate as a mom. Watching heavily involved moms at the park has me second guessing my decision to encourage independence; like pretending not to see my son licking all of the playground equipment. And does anyone know how much puddle water is too much to safely ingest?

little boy splashing in a puddle

I find if I spend too much time looking around at others, my confidence waivers. I wonder if you can relate?

Is it normal to feel inadequate as a mom?

mom and daughter hugging

True story. As I was having a conversation with a woman at a public play area, and as she was mid-sentence telling me about how she’s a hovering, helicopter mom (her words, not mine), my two year old son fell off of a piece of play equipment about four feet from the ground. And I was more than four feet away from him.

Ever felt that inadequate?

It was fine, he was fine, it’s all fine. Our friendship didn’t really flourish but that’s neither here nor there. Aside from the fact that I’m probably way too easily distracted to properly care for three children who’s feet are not steadily on ground level, we’re both pretty solid moms. Just pretty different.

In the age of online socialization, comparison is easy to come by. All I have to do is turn on my phone, give the screen one little flick, and I’m accosted by ten different ways to mom… all of which imply that the way I’m momming isn’t quite up to par.

There are houses that look immaculate and mine looks lived in. Like, a family of bears lived in it. There are meals that look gourmet and mine looks like I’m the sort of person that would probably have trouble boiling eggs.

And if you’re a homeschooler? The ways in which you can compare yourself triple! Oh your four year old just completed a first grade curriculum? Mine just decided she’s going to turn a mud ball into slime.

girls holding a chicken while it flaps around on a homestead

But listen, these feelings are normal. Society actually encourages them. Look around (maybe that’s bad advice) at all the commercials! The messages! We are constantly being told to try harder, do better, live bigger, want more, settle less.

Why do I feel like a failure as a mother?

I am notoriously hard on myself. Maybe that’s a me thing, or maybe that’s a mom thing. My not favorite way to fall asleep is not counting sheep, but rather counting all of the ways I failed my children throughout the day.

I am well traveled on guilt trips.

But what is at the root of my shame cycle? Why should I, if I’ve done all that I could to ensure my kids were fed, clothed, safe, and felt loved, feel as if I’ve failed? Should I feel like an inadequate mom because I’m not a perfect mom?

mom holding daughter on the beach

What’s with the feelings of inadequacy?


There is an endless stream of moms who do it better. Know more. Handle more. Achieve more.

The stay at home mom isn’t working. The working mom isn’t staying home.

My house is never organized. Her kids are never messy.

Comparison is the thief of joy. For real. For. Real.

Related Post: Lies We Tell Ourselves As Stay At Home Moms

Four Simple Ideas to Stop Feeling Inadequate As A Mom

little girl on the windy beach

1. Be your own person

Hey mama, guess what? You are the mom of your family. Not mine. And me? I’m the mom of mine. Not yours. What if we just kept our eyes on our own paper, and did what we knew (or felt) to be right for our own families?

I don’t have any idea what goes on in your home each day. You do. Likewise, you’re totally oblivious about my daily shenanigans. So what if we didn’t feel the need to judge one another? Compare our short comings with one another’s alleged successes? Let’s be revolutionary and focus solely on our own family. Yea?

Because here’s the thing: keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t just apply to material things. It can be about following someone else’s life rules, adhering to someone else’s expectations, living up to someone else’s standards. Like, if I want to buy organic strawberries and eat them next to a toxic burning candle, who says I can’t?

But if I’m being honest, sometimes I’ll get all mean girl to myself. I can get real bent out of shape for doing things that someone else would think is “wrong”, but doesn’t actually strike me as a problem. Am I alone in this?

2. Consider your clutter threshold

I read a book (you’ll find it in this post) that talked about having a clutter threshold. It was a book about decluttering your house. But I’ve found that having a clutter threshold extends beyond material items.

I feel quite confident that I’m not the only mom whose brain is maxed out. Clutter? I am juggling balls, spinning plates, all while running on a hamster wheel trying to keep up with… who?

It’s too much!

I’m trying my darndest to #livemybestlife but being the best at anything, even my own life, feels like so much pressure to just perform. My mind clutter threshold is so much lower than being the best. I’m like… scratching and clawing to get to average and feeling good about it.

Time clutter, energy clutter, space clutter, brain clutter, relationship clutter. We all have different maxed out points. Know yours and live within the boundaries of them.

three kids walking around a lawn collecting leaves

3. Know who you are not

Being the introvert mom that I am, I’m pretty good at the self-awareness thing. Ask me to speak in front of a crowd of ten and I might just die on the spot. Ask me to self-assess and it’s peace sign and goodbye for three days.

I love it.

The harder part of knowing who you are not, is living it out and letting it be.

You have to be okay letting others step in to fill in the gaps that you just cannot fill yourself. It’s okay that you’re not all the things. Stop trying to be! In our house, dad is the socializer. When the kids are feeling cooped up and in need of some peopling, dad is on it.

I have a friend who loves to craft. Coincidentally my daughter loves to craft. Also coincidentally, I basically detest crafting (although I did make a mean garland made out of dried oranges around Christmas time, so Martha Stewart watch out).

And because she’s awesome, my friend has “adopted” my girl and routinely has her over for the day just to craft together! It’s an amazing thing.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of feeling inadequate as a mom because I’m not good at everything. What other job requires you to be good at any and every random interest other people in the building have? Absurd.

boy in an amish hat smiling

4. Embrace your unique life experience

My mom was an excellent housekeeper. All the days of my life, I could, and did, expect that whatever I wore on Monday would be back in my dresser by Tuesday afternoon. Every day, day after day, my mom did one load of laundry. She was never behind. She can’t even comprehend how a person could find themselves behind on laundry.

She’s awesome.

My laundry skills peak in the loading of the washer. That’s where, if I’m ever going to impress anyone with my laundering, it’s going to be right there. In the starting of a wash.

Because typically, I don’t get much further than that without getting distracted for three days.

If I compare my laundry record with my mom’s, I fall short every time.

But check this out: my mom was a lot of things, but she wasn’t many of the things that I am.

She was a great mom, but she wasn’t a homeschool mom. My mom can write, but she never aspired to blog. I came home many a day to find her raking our small, living-in-the-middle-of-town lawn but she didn’t manage a six acre homestead.

homestead view

And for all that she did do, her priorities and mine couldn’t be further apart in many of our day to day tasks.

All that to say this: you are living your life. You’re different from everyone else. What you consider worthwhile will vary greatly from what I consider top priority. Why should I try to live up to my mom’s high cleaning standards (thanks mom!) when cleaning is only, like, number four on my list of top priorities?

My life experience is wildly different from my mom’s. So it’s okay that my home is run differently, too. But goodness, if she didn’t do my laundry all those years, maybe I’d never have had the time to hone my writing skills… and then where would I be? 🙂

mom and daughter hugging

Simplified for those feeling inadequate as a mom:

  • Be who you are.
  • Know your boundaries and limits.
  • Accept who you are not.
  • Embrace your unique life experience.

Now make me feel better and tell me about a total mom fail like the one I shared above!