How I Am Overcoming "Mama FOMO"


"The grass is always greener on the other side."

It's a thought that crosses many a mother's mind when thinking about other mothers who get to stay home with their kids all day, or other mothers who get to work all day. "How fortunate for them," says the stay-at-home mum, "because they get to have a peaceful, leisurely lunch without anyone whining or needing attention". "How fortunate for them," says the working mum, "because they get to enjoy so much quality time with their children."

Even those who are confident in their decision to stay at home or remain at work will have these moments of...well, how can I define it? Envy? Resentment? Self-doubt? It's a mix of different emotions, but the one common theme is: they want what it is they feel they're missing out on.

It's a case of FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.




I am well aware of these uncomfortable feelings, having been in both situations. While each instance was a calculated decision, and (even in hindsight) the best decision for me to make at the time, I still had moments - no, wait...have moments - where doubt creeps in. Is this the right thing for the children? Is this the right thing for me?

These are thoughts that mums are taught to keep to ourselves, lest we be labeled ungrateful or told to simply "go back to work" or "quit your job". Sometimes all we need is reassurance, and a reminder that motherhood is a series of compromise, regardless of our decisions.

It was during a lunch with dear friends recently that we lifted the veil on this topic. We all agreed that we felt embarrassed, like it was a bit taboo to be discussing it, but we all also agreed that it felt good to get these feelings off our chest!

I remember when I was working, I would sometimes cry the whole time I was driving to work, because the kids were crying when I left them. Of course, once I arrive at work, I find a text from my mum, telling me the kids are just fine. I vowed that I'd do everything I can to be able to stay at home as much as I can. Flexi-time jobs and part-time jobs became my "career", and while a good compromise, it was stressful and lacking in job security. Again: compromise.

Now I'm finally at home full-time, and wow...let me tell ya, it's really stressful in it's own way! I'm getting on in years, as well, so that's always playing on my mind. By the time Adam's in pre-school and I go back to work - if I go back to work - I'll  have missed out on many years of experience that my peers (or worse, younger folks!) would have been climbing the corporate ladder. And then there's the fact that I would very much like to enter into a new industry when I go back to work (my dream is to be a writer and eventually an editor at a magazine!), and you better believe my anxiety goes through the roof.

But the word "compromise" here comes into play again. Working from home is an absolute possibility. Not just writing - maybe I could start my own weaving or knitting business. And this is definitely something I'm giving serious thought to.

Still, how do I cope now with "Mama FOMO", on the days where being a stay-at-home mum is overwhelming and all that self-doubt creeps in?

It's something I've been conscious about these days. As I've gotten older, I've seen a lot of value in living with intention. Not just coasting through life. And I just can't shake the feeling that FOMO is draining, and not a particularly purposeful feeling! So far, some of the strategies I've employed are:

Finding joy in the ordinary
My most annoying chore right now would have to be laundry. It's just a mind-numbingly menial task, and I struggle to find any joy in the actual act of it. So what I do now is watch my shows while I fold clothes. This is just one example, of course! I also listen to podcasts while I cook, knit while I do art time with Adam, and catch up on my favourite blogs while I get Adam to sleep (the Feedly app - which is my favourite way of catching up on blogs - has Night Mode, so it doesn't keep him up!).

Rewarding myself
When I set up goals for myself and reward myself when I reach them, that sense of achievement is such a boost for my mood and self-esteem. Just like any other job, having goals allows for a sense of purpose, which in turn makes your job - and you! - feel more valuable. It can be as simple as: once I'm done with the dishes, I'm going to eat a couple of pieces of the expensive chocolate that we only save for special occasions (we all have these, don't we? *lol*).

Prioritising ME
This one's a hard one. It's very much against my nature to put myself first. But I've found some real, quantifiable difference in the way I approach my job (because believe me when I say being a stay-at-home mum is a job!), when I make sure I am happy, healthy, and fulfilled. It's the Oxygen Mask Rule - you need to take care of yourself before you can attend to others. This means making it to chiropractor appointments, making time for my passions, or even something as simple as making sure I'm eating good, nutritious food every day (read: not the kids' leftovers...stop doing that to yourself, mama!).

"The grass is greenest where you water it."

This is a much healthier way to approach Mama FOMO, I think. Making the best of the situation we're in now. Leaving room for yourself to acknowledge the feelings of FOMO, but not dwelling in it. Because that doubt, those negative feelings...they are perfectly valid. But situations change, and yours can too, but if that's not what you want, and not what's right for you right now, you need to own the decision you've made, and the situation you're in now, so you can spend more time being happy, and less time on FOMO!

Do you suffer from Mama FOMO as well? What are some things you do to avoid, or deal with, Mama FOMO?