9 Ways to Combat Mom Jealousy

9 Ways to Combat Mom Jealousy

It’s time to stop comparing your life to everyone else’s. Here’s how to do it.

By Leah Maxwell

The phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” has been around for more than a century, and I don’t doubt that the behavior behind it -- the way we compare our own lives to those of friends and relatives who seem to have it better -- goes back even further than that. You’ve probably found that being a mom comes with its own special set of jealousies, and being a mom in the digital age makes things exponentially worse. It’s hard not to feel constantly bombarded with snippets showing off just how amazing everyone else’s kids/houses/vacations/meals/perfectly organized closets are. It’s a lot to take in, and it can be difficult to avoid negative feelings.

But is it all bad? And if so, why do we keep looking? Is there anything redeeming about this particular shade of mom envy, this desire to have what others do? Well, yes and no. Here are nine solid ways to deal with mom jealousy and come out the other side happy and sane.

1. Count your blessings. It can be hard to look at a friend’s vacation photos while you’re standing in a pile of cereal crumbs as your kids throw blocks at each other. But just because you’re not living in your best moment doesn’t mean you’re not living your best life. Just because another mom has something you want doesn’t mean you aren’t already surrounded by wonderful things. When the green-eyed monster rears its head, take a deep breath and then take stock of your life. Feel grateful for your “haves” instead of focusing on your “have-nots.”

2. Consider the source. If what’s making you jealous are posts of people’s “perfect” lives on social media, remember that what you’re looking at is a highlight reel. People post online only what they want you to see, and those images don’t always mirror reality. (And yes, some of them may be sharing things specifically to arouse feelings of jealousy in others. Don’t let them get to you!) Never forget that online profiles are not reality.

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3. Step away from social media. If you have a hard time remembering point no. 2 above, it may be time to stop baiting yourself with things that make you jealous. While it can be hard to avoid showoff moms in person, you can absolutely shut off the computer/walk away from the tablet/put down your phone to take a break from online instigators. Protect yourself before you wreck yourself.

4. Ask yourself “why.” What’s making you jealous of another mom? Is it petty or indicative of a larger issue? Once you can pinpoint exactly what’s bothering you, you can work toward fixing it, either by talking yourself down from the jealousy ledge or taking action to fill that gap in your own life. (Sometimes you think you want one thing but that’s really just a symbol for something else. Maybe you don’t really want to take your kids on a cruise, you’re just jealous because you wish you had the money to even consider it.) Listen to your feelings, take a hard look at what you actually want, and then go from there.

5. Turn jealousy into inspiration. If you’re jealous over something that’s attainable, what’s stopping you from making it your reality? If you wish you could do more crafts with your kids, do more crafts! If you wish you cooked more exciting meals, cook more exciting meals! Look at other moms as examples of what you can be, not what you aren’t.

6. Check in with your kids. Although you might bristle with jealousy at the adorable homemade lunches your sister-in-law packs for her kids every day, you might be surprised to hear your own kid actually loves eating school lunch and wouldn’t trade it for all the radish roses in the world. And as for those perfectly styled preschoolers in their designer clothes, remember the look of pride on your own preschooler’s face when she assembled her last crazy outfit and exclaimed, “I did it myself!” Don’t get caught up in your own version of “ideal” at the expense of your kids.


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7. Be happy for others. One of the worst parts about jealousy is that it doesn’t allow us to be happy for the people we love. If negative feelings are making it hard for you to be a supportive friend/sister/colleague, it’s time to reexamine your priorities.

8. Be the best you. You may not have the biggest house or the cleanest car or the most accomplished toddler in the playgroup, but you are awesome in your own way, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Focus on what you do best, push yourself to improve in areas that matter to you, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. This is your life, and you shouldn’t be living it for anyone else.

9. Share your reality. If you feel jealous of other moms, you’re definitely not alone, but that doesn’t mean we should all simply hunker down and take comfort in our collective suffering. Instead, do your part to change the narrative. Talk about your sleep deprivation, share photos of your messy living room, find camaraderie in the struggles of modern parenthood rather than seeking to paint a carefully edited façade in order to collect admirers. Be your real self and you’ll inspire others to do the same.

How do you combat mom jealousy?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/ shapecharge

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