Thursday, April 5, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge
Expectations—Revising Unrealistic Ones”

(Adapted from Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home. See sidebar for ordering information.)

(Be sure to check back tomorrow for "Freebie Friday"!) 

Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations. I knew I had them when my kids were young and I was at home with them all day…but I didn’t know I’d have them even now, when I’m…um…40-something…and one child is in college and one is about to graduate.

When my kids were toddlers I expected that I would be the type of mom to sew all of their clothes (my mom sewed all of the *matching* clothes my sisters and I wore), complete multiple craft projects (again, like my mom), cook three well-balanced and yummy-tasting meals every day (my mom was a super-mom!).
For a very long time I tried to do all of the above…feeling that I was a failure for not being just like my mom. 

Unrealistic expectations can be demoralizing to any mom, and in your life as a “real life” mom you’ll probably have to change some of your expectations about every-day activities, hobbies, and projects.

Instead of looking at decreasing your unrealistic expectations of yourself as a failure, look at it as giving priority to what is most important—your kids and your husband, and your own sanity.

Detecting Unrealistic Expectations

Whether you’re a new mom or an almost-empty-nest mom, if an item shows up on your to-do list week after week—whether it’s a dreaded chore or something that “should” be fun—ask yourself if it’s really worth doing. Despite the expectations of your in-laws or friends, it’s not necessary to move all the furniture every time you vacuum (or every other time…or…more than once every six months)!

What about “fun” things you “should” enjoy doing, like planting flowers or doing craft projects with your kids? If you don’t enjoy doing them, find something else—something you do enjoy, to do! Just because someone else finds happiness in an activity does not mean you have to. Life is to short to guilt yourself into doing something you don’t enjoy.

Revising Unrealistic Expectations (and saving your sanity)

Remember the old cliché’ “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right?” My motto is, “Some things are worth doing 100%, but many things can be done 50% or less and still be acceptable.” Save your sanity—lower your standards! Look at the activities on which you spend a lot of time doing to your (maybe unrealistic) and figure out how you can lower those standards.
  • Rather than sort old baby clothes by age, size, and season, sort them by boy clothes and girl clothes, or by size.
  • Instead of pressuring yourself to cook 21 low-fat, low-calorie, nutritionally-balanced meals every week, go with cereal for breakfast and resolve in your own mind that it’s ok to eat a frozen meal or take-out pizza a few times a week.
  • You do not have to wash your windows every spring (it’s been 7 springs since I’ve washed mine. We’ve lived in our home for 7 years.) It’s ok to just vacuum the “middle” of the floor and not move anything. It’s OK to dust around things.
  • Instead of baking dozens of different varieties of cookies for school kids, neighbors, teachers, Sunday School teachers, and family members, bake a batch of cupcakes and take one to each of your favorite neighbors.
  • Rather than having a huge garden and being frustrated at being unable to keep up with it, plant a few of your favorite veggies in easy-to-care for pots or other containers. I’ve satisfied my gardening “bug” by planting herbs in pots and growing them on our deck, where they’re easy to care for and use.
  • If there’s something that truly has to be done, consider hiring someone else to do it. Sometimes the cost is well worth getting that thing off of your to-do list.

And don’t feel guilty about taking these measures; you and your family will benefit from the extra time you have to spend with them, and the better mood you’ll be in. And remember that “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.”( Ecclesiastes 3:1) Throughout you life your schedule and commitments will change, and with that what you are able to do, will also change.

It’s bittersweet to know that next fall will start empty-nest time for me. On the one hand, I’ll have a lot more time to work on the Nebraska Family Times and write. But of course it’s going to be a huge change to not have our kids at home! I am going to enjoy every moment of the time before they both leave for college…I can move all the furniture when I vacuum when they’ve both gone back to college.

I’m also taking part in the Blogging A to Z Challenge on my other blog, at Nebraska Family Times. Check there today for a devotion about “God’s Ear.” 


  1. Love this! I am a 30 year old mama of 4 (with one on the way, I homeschool and help my hubby run our landscape business, and I have SO many unrealistic expectations that like to haunt me in my sleep A LOT! (or more like KEEPING me from sleeping!) Sometimes I forget how unrealistic they really are. Some days I feel like an old lady. I wonder if that has anything to do with stress from these expectations!??

    I came across your blog on the A-Z challenge list. I am not officially on the list because I took too long deciding if I could muster up the energy but I decided to do the challenge (starting today) as a writing discipline and maybe a means to gain some sanity. We'll see how that goes!

    Blessing to you!

  2. I'm a 50-something with two grown kids. I've been feeling guilt from unrealistic expectations for 31 years (the age of my older). I'll never get past it...

  3. WOW Rebecca, you ARE busy! I think as moms, especially moms who do a lot, we expect more from ourselves than is realistic. And I definitely get stressed thinking I should be able to do *everything* that's on my list, or that I want to be on my list. I think it's a constant balancing act, and just being aware that we might be expecting more from ourselves that is humanly possible.

    Laura--I hope you can get rid of at least a little bit of your guilt related to unrealistic expectations! They can take so much energy and joy from our lives--good luck!


Thank you for commenting!