As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I have spoken to many moms over the years, who are surprised and dismayed to find themselves hating parenthood. Though they love their children, the endless job of motherhood can feel overwhelming, isolating, and joyless at times. You are not alone if you feel this way; it doesn’t make you a bad mom. We will discuss why you may hate being a mom, steps you can take to feel more positive about your role, and how therapy can help.
8 Reasons why you may hate being a mom
1. Sleep Deprivation
Having a new baby means several months of interrupted sleep. I would love to tell you it ends here, but unfortunately, several more stages of development may interrupt your sleep. Such stages include toddlers who may have difficulty separating from you at night, or school-age children whose worries keep them from sleeping.
The University of Warwick performed a sleep study with over 4000 parents and discovered “sleep duration and satisfaction is decreased up to six years after giving birth for both parents.” Sleep deprivation can lead to a host of problems including depression, anxiety, weakened immune system, psychiatric disorders, and more. If you are experiencing sleep deprivation, it can be helpful to talk to your doctor about solutions.
2. Lacking a support system
Whether you are a single mom or you have a partner, the adage, “it takes a village to raise a child,” has never been more true than in these busy modern times. No one person can do it all, and you are setting yourself up for failure if you are placing high expectations on yourself. If you feel you are doing too much and you are doing it all alone, it’s easy to become resentful.
3. Comparing yourself to the “Instagram mom”
Social media is a well-documented killer of self-esteem. Maybe you have been scrolling Instagram, and seeing the beautiful moms who are sharing pictures of doing arts-and-crafts with their kids, baking cookies, and going on camping adventures. Suddenly, you feel as though you are a bad mom because you aren’t doing the same things and therefore, motherhood must not be for you.
I’m here to tell you, it’s not real. Those moms aren’t documenting the diaper blow-outs, the tantrums, the teenagers slamming their doors, they are only posting positive pictures of parenthood, which is not an accurate representation. Theodore Roosevelt once said “comparison is the thief of joy,” so keep this in mind next time you are comparing yourself to unrealistic standards.
4. Identity Crisis
Maybe you had a career and now you are a stay-at-home mom, or you used to identify as a good friend and wife.
Now that you are a mom, your role and identity have naturally shifted, creating a sense of upheaval and possibly resentment. Many moms struggle with feeling as though they have no identity outside of motherhood. Add to the fact that motherhood is a thankless and unappreciated job, and it can be clear to see why women struggle with their identity as a mother.
5. There are no sick days
You never get a day off from being a mom, no matter the age of your child.
Even if you’re lucky enough to get away for a break, your mind might be filled with the emotional weight of parenting, which includes thinking about the “to-do list.”
Such a list might include school calendar events, playdates, doctor appointments, meal preparation, packing lunches, cleaning the home, doing laundry, family time, teacher conferences, chauffeuring kids around, and helping your child solve emotional struggles with their friends. With lists like these, it becomes evident why moms are stressed and might dislike the job of being a mom.
6. Relationship struggles
It can be hard to carve out time for yourself, let alone your partner. There is only so much of you to go around, and motherhood requires a lot of your energy.
It is very common for most mothers to feel disconnected from their partners, especially during the baby and toddler years.
There is the concept of being “touched-out,” which means the mother of a young child has expended too much energy holding her child and she does not want to be touched anymore beyond the requirements of caring for her young. This can negatively impact intimacy and cause challenges in the relationship.
Feeling disconnected from your partner in this way can cause resentment, as well as feelings of isolation, further contributing to disliking motherhood.
7. No more freedom and spontaneity
This might be one of the more challenging aspects of motherhood because it is pretty difficult to change.
Once upon a time, if there was a concert, you could go. You had the money, you didn’t need a babysitter, you were free. Those days are gone, at least for a while, and many mothers subsequently feel trapped.
Humans, as well as animals, don’t function optimally when they feel trapped.
Such feelings can lead to depression, which in turn can further intensify feelings of hating motherhood. One silver lining I can offer is, when you do get to go out, you will cherish those special moments more than you ever have before.
8. Postpartum Depression
PPD (Postpartum Depression) is a medical condition and nothing to be ashamed of, but it does require a visit to your doctor to treat PPD effectively. Feelings of intense depression, high anxiety, and disconnection are a few of the more common symptoms of PPD, though there is a wide spectrum of symptoms.
In addition to seeing your doctor, working with a therapist has been shown to be a highly effective mode of treatment.
5 Steps to help you
1. Carve out some me-time
I know for many moms this sounds impossible, but as a therapist, I’m here to tell you it is imperative. Think of it as putting on your oxygen mask first before you can help anyone else.
If money for respite is a factor, do a childcare trade with a trusted friend. Pick one day a week when she will take your child, allowing you some free time. In return, do the same for her.
You can also take advantage of small moments and pamper yourself. If your child is still napping, forget cleaning the house and instead, take a warm bath. Any small moment you are able to take for yourself can have a tremendously positive effect on your mood.
2. Join a PEPS group
A PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support) program can be incredibly beneficial in providing you with support from other parents experiencing similar challenges.
You may even be able to find parents you trust to do a babysitting swap. You can find your local PEPS group here and you can meet in person or online.
3. Write your feelings in a journal
For many people, the act of writing emotions onto paper can be cathartic. It can also be helpful to identify why you are hating being a mom. Ask yourself, which parts do you dislike? Which parts do you enjoy? Nothing is all good or all bad. It will be helpful to discover what specifically isn’t working for you to determine the best solution.
4. Try not to sweat the small stuff
This is always easier said than done, but with practice, it is achievable. You may hate it when your child cries, or despise homework time. Think of these moments as brief phases and compared to poor health or financial crisis, they really are the smaller things in life. Practicing gratitude can also help you to balance your perspective and help you to hone in on what matters most.
It can also be helpful to find humor in situations. I will never forget the time my toddler found my lipstick in the backseat of the car and proceeded to draw all over herself and the car window. At the time I wanted to cry, instead, I took pictures of her and proceeded to have a good belly laugh. Years later, it’s one of my favorite pictures because it summarized that challenging moment in time.
5. Find support
Communicate with your partner about how you are feeling. They may surprise you by sharing similar feelings. Reach out to family or friends you trust and see if they have experienced similar feelings. It can be difficult to ask for help with the workload, but most of the time, friends, family, and your partner, are more than happy to help.
Online therapists can also be a wonderful resource. From the comfort of your own home, you can talk with a therapist who is experienced with this issue and modern-day stressors for mothers. A therapist won’t judge you and can offer tailored solutions to your individual needs.
Being a mom is the hardest job in the world. There are so many reasons why a mom might hate being a mom, despite loving her children. You are not alone in feeling this way and oftentimes, these feelings aren’t permanent. If you are struggling with being a mom, try some of our suggestions above, and if you find yourself still in a funk, please reach out for help and support.