This post shares many honest truths about why being a mom is hard. So, if you’re thinking about becoming a mom, I hope this post leaves you feeling more prepared. If you’re a struggling mama, I hope this post helps you realize you aren’t alone.
Being a mom is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences a woman can have. I don’t think any moms out there would deny that fact.
It’s a role that is often glamorized in social media, as if raising tiny humans is a fun walk in the park. But let’s just cut the crud, shall we? – it’s a tough job that comes with major responsibilities, sacrifices, and sleepless nights.
So, in this post, I’m going to talk about the hard truths of motherhood that are often overlooked.
By highlighting some of the difficult aspects of motherhood, I hope to give prospective moms some realistic and relatable perspective. I don’t want to discourage anyone, but it’s better to be prepared than majorly surprised.
I also want to encourage moms who may be struggling with these challenges to know that they are not alone and that their experiences are valid.
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1. Lack of Sleep
What’s the first thing to go out the window when you become a mom? Sleep, of course!
It’s a well-known fact that moms (and dads) sacrifice their precious zzz’s to tend to the needs of their children. And it starts day one.
When you’re in the hospital recovering, you’re told you need to get some rest, but every few minutes someone new is coming into the room to check your vitals, check on baby, push on your uterus (which is god-awful after a c-section), give you lactation support, and so on and so forth.
You go home with a negative supply of sleep and try to figure it all out while still recovering from a fairly traumatic experience.
From that point on you work hard to figure out how to maximize rest. Your baby figures out how to sleep through the night until the next sleep regression hits.
Once they’re a toddler you think maybe you’ve got it all figured out. But suddenly they turn 3 and realize they’re afraid of the dark.
The lack of sleep for several years can absolutely take a physical and mental toll on you. I’ve learned to ask for help when it becomes too much. Sometimes my husband and I have a weekend getaway and we spend a good portion of it sleeping. I’m dead serious.
Friends, I’m here to tell you, you’re going to be running on caffeine and sheer determination until your children all older. I’m not there yet but I’ll let you know what it’s like in a few years.
2. The “Fourth Trimester” Is Rough
You guys. Postpartum is no joke. And I think the help for new moms is absolutely lacking in this country.
Giving birth is a major physical event, and it takes time for your body to recover. You are dealing with soreness, bleeding, and other physical discomforts, WHILE KEEPING A TINY HUMAN ALIVE.
Your hormones are going absolutely bonkers. The baby blues are very real, and you need to take them seriously. You’ll probably experience some intrusive thoughts, a lot of tears, and some rage. (If it’s getting super bad, get professional help. You are not a bad mom for taking medication.)
Caring for a newborn is also an incredibly steep learning curve. And each newborn is so different. What worked to calm one, won’t work for another. One of mine loved the swing and the others hated it. For my daughter, we figured out my husband had to shush loudly in her ear while bouncing on an exercise ball.
It’s an absolute circus! Just know that it will pass. Nothing lasts forever.
3. Constant Worry
When you become a mom, it’s like someone flips a biological switch and suddenly you’re on high alert, constantly scanning the environment for potential threats.
From the moment they’re born, we worry about everything – are they breathing properly? Are they warm enough? Are they getting enough milk?
And let’s not forget about the physical dangers that lurk around every corner – sharp objects, hot stoves, busy streets – it seems like everything is a potential hazard when you’re a mom.
And as they grow and explore the world, the list of worries only gets longer. Are they eating healthy enough? Are they making good choices? Are they hanging out with the right crowd? It’s enough to make your head spin!
But you know what? That worry is just a sign of how much you love your children. You want them to be safe and happy, and that’s a good thing. All that worrying pays off – your kids will grow up with a deep sense of love and security.
4. The Mental Load
Mental load is the invisible weight that moms carry on their shoulders – the mental checklist of all the things that need to be done, organized, planned, and remembered. It’s the constant mental gymnastics of juggling work, family, and household tasks, while simultaneously trying to anticipate and meet everyone’s needs (often before they even know they have them).
From meal planning and grocery shopping to scheduling doctor’s appointments and organizing school activities, the mental load is a full-time job in itself. And that’s not even factoring in the emotional labor of managing family relationships, resolving conflicts, and providing emotional support to everyone around us.
Throw in a full-time job and it’s enough to make your brain explode! I’ve compiled a list of life hacks for working moms, which I hope to keep updating.
Make sure your partner is taking on some of that mental load. If you need assistance, the Fair Play deck of cards are a fun way to start that conversation.
5. Loss of Identity
When you become a mom, your life is forever changed, and not just in the obvious ways.
One of the biggest changes that many moms experience is the loss of their identity outside of motherhood. And there’s a term for this change- matrescence.
Once you become a mom, your personal interests often take a backseat to the demands of motherhood. Suddenly, your world revolves around your little ones, and it can be difficult to remember who you were before they came along.
This loss of identity can be a real struggle, and it’s not something that’s often talked about. We’re expected to be selfless and all-consumed by our children’s needs, without acknowledging the toll it can take on our sense of self.
But you know what? It’s okay to mourn the loss of your pre-mom identity. It’s okay to miss those things that made you uniquely you. And it’s okay to take steps to rediscover those things, even if it’s in small ways.
I recently told my husband, “I think I’ve forgotten how to have fun.” And I’ve had to start examining what brings me joy. It’s different than the things that brought me joy when I was 25.
You are a complex, multifaceted person with interests that extend beyond motherhood.
6. Lack of Support
As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and that couldn’t be more true. When you become a mom, having a support system is crucial for both your own mental health and the well-being of your family.
Whether it’s a partner, family members, friends, or a community of other moms, having people you can rely on can make all the difference in the world.
On the other hand, a lack of support can be incredibly detrimental to your mental health. It can leave you feeling isolated, stressed, and like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
It can also lead to feelings of guilt or shame for not being able to “do it all” on your own.
It’s important to remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness – in fact, it’s a sign of strength. It takes courage to admit that you can’t do it all alone and to reach out for support.
And when you do, you’ll often find that people are more than happy to help.
One of the biggest mistakes I made after the births of each of my children, was challenging myself to figure it out on my own. It’s kind of like I was saying “Well, you got yourself into this mess, figure it out!”
It led to a whole lot of anxiety and sometimes complete and utter rage, all directed at myself. Don’t do that to yourself!
7. People Have a Lot of Opinions (and Love Expressing Them)
Good god, this part is absolutely obnoxious. I don’t understand why we can’t just be ok with each person’s experiences and choices.
I had to have an emergency c-section for my first child and had scheduled c-sections for the other two. One was completely out of my control, and the other two was my choice based on what I thought was best for my health and the health of my unborn children.
Do you know how traumatic it is to have your birth plan thrown completely out the window? Not to mention, it’s terrifying to have major abdominal surgery, while you’re completely conscious, and then attempt to take care of a newborn afterwards.
We need to stop categorizing births as “natural” or “unnatural.” The birthing process is natural no matter how it happens. Let’s just stop the unhelpful narrative that one type of birth is better than another.
Let’s also mind our own business when it comes to breastfeeding versus formula. You don’t know someone’s story. My second-born had an actual swallowing disorder, and yet I’d have other moms tell me I just needed to join a lactation support group. Nope. Just nope.
Every mom is doing the best they can based on their situation. My advice? Stay out of the Facebook groups.
8. Your Kids Will Look Just Like Their Dad
They are going to look like a perfect angel. And they are also going to look nothing like you.
Yes, you carried them for 9 months. Too bad.
9. The House Will Never Be Clean Again
You are going to feel like you are constantly cleaning and yet, the house will be messy again in just a few moments. You are forever playing whack-a-mole. One mess gets cleaned up, and the another shows up immediately after.
Also, everything will be inexplicably sticky.
When it became too much for me to handle, I hired a house cleaner to come on a monthly basis. It was so worth it.
I also decided minimalism was probably the answer. It doesn’t make my house permanently clean, but it helps to have less to pick up all the time.
10. Being Sick as a Mom Is the Absolute Worst
Even when you’re feeling under the weather, you still need to care for your kids. This is especially true when they’re little and have zero self-help skills.
They need fed. They need help with homework. They need transported to school and activities.
You’re going to have to go into survival mode in order to get the rest you need. Let them watch more TV than they normally would. Give them the tablet. Have food delivered to the house. Skip the nightly bath routine.
If you have grandparents nearby, have the kids stay over there for a few hours.
When you’re sick, that’s not the time to worry about your parenting. Just make it through the next few days as best you can.
11. You Are Constantly Overstimulated
There is so much noise. So. Much. Noise.
Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mama. Hey, look at this! Are you looking? Watch this! Mom, can I have a snack? Mom, he took my toy! He’s not sharing!
It’s enough to make your head spin!
I’ve learned that when I’m overstimulated, I get super anxious, and that leads to me snapping and losing my cool. That never feels good.
Over the years, I’ve learned I need some strategies in place. I purchased noise-reducing earplugs so it’s less noisy, but I can still hear in case of an emergency.
And there I times I just need to walk away.
Breathing strategies are also helpful. That’s why I’ve used the Headspace app for over 5 years. It’s one of the best apps for moms, in my opinion. It helps to have a calming voice guide you through a mindful moment so you can regulate your body.
12. You Will Lose Your Cool, and It Sucks
Oftentimes, it’s because you are overstimulated.
Other times, it’s because you’ve said something a million times and it’s getting ignored.
Moms are like a soda bottle that’s been shook one to many times. If there isn’t time to settle, you will explode.
When it happens, forgive yourself. Then try to repair the situation by apologizing to your kids and explaining why you got upset. Give them hugs and do something that feels better. Read a book together. Play a game.
13. You Get Trapped in the Comparison Game
Moms today have to deal with social media. We know we are seeing highly edited versions of people’s lives, but even with that truth in our minds, we can’t help but want what they have.
We start to think- if I just had that super expensive nifty stroller wagon, my live would be so much better!
If my children wore trendy boutique clothing, people would think more highly of our family.
I should be using cloth diapers like her. I’m the worst parent! I don’t even care about the environment! People must think I’m a total heathen.
Maybe I should shop at Lulu Lemon. Maybe then, the moms at the PTA meeting will accept me.
Her kid is in the gifted program. What did I do wrong as a mom? Why is my child not super smart?
It’s exhausting. I find it helpful to use a gratitude journal to remind myself of things going well for me. My children are happy. They are loved.
One of the greatest benefits of being an “older” mom is I’m starting to finally care so much less about how I stack up to other moms. I’m just happy to be me and I want more of the things I enjoy. Comfy pants. Alone time. Books. Find those things and run with them!
14. The Responsibility of Making Decisions for Your Children
Every decision, big or small, has the potential to impact your child’s future. No pressure or anything!
From choosing their education and healthcare, to deciding on discipline and screen time limits, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and second-guess yourself.
The weight of this responsibility is even worse when faced with difficult decisions, such as navigating your child’s mental health needs.
As a parent, it’s important to remember that no one has all the answers, and that it’s okay to ask for help and seek advice when needed. If you find yourself overthinking and stuck in analysis paralysis, I have some advice for you.
15. Your Schedule Becomes an Absolute Nightmare
Once your kids become old enough to be involved in extracurricular activities, buckle up for a wild ride!
You can’t just make it easy by signing them all up for the same thing. They’re each going to have their own interests and preferences.
Not only that, but you may also be navigating different sleep schedules.
My advice? Limit after-school activities as much as possible. Your kids really don’t need to do “all the things.” Ultimately, it eats away at the time you have together, and that time goes so fast.
If one kid needs to get to bed around 7:30, aim for that time for the whole bunch. We let our oldest stay up a bit longer to read in her room, but she has to be in her room ready for bed by that time.
Even though I try to make things as consistent as I can, I still have on child in elementary, one in preschool, and one in daycare. That means there are different school events happening each week and I have zero control over that.
It’s pure insanity.
16. Kids Are Expensive
Raising kids is an honest-to-god financial strain.
From the cost of prenatal care and childbirth to ongoing expenses such as food, clothing, and education, the costs associated with raising children can add up quickly.
One of the many reasons I decided to make a midlife career change, was because I was spending a ridiculous amount of my paycheck on childcare. Every few months, the costs were raised but my own salary was not raising along with it. You would think childcare costs ended after preschool but noooo. We pay for after school care because my child’s elementary school starts at 7:30 in the morning and gets out at 2:45. I decided it was crucial for me to find work that allowed me to have a more flexible schedule.
Unexpected medical expenses, such as emergency room visits or specialized care for a child with special needs, can also quickly deplete savings.
It’s extremely important to get a budget put together and decide what is actually worth spending money on. I wrote a whole post on ways to spend pennies on your kid’s clothes. (Hint: it’s not buying them new outfits)
In fact, I have tons of posts on this blog that highlights ways to save money and build wealth. You HAVE to be planning ahead and saving, especially when you have multiple children. Just hit up the “money” section in the menu and take a look around. It’s a topic I’m pretty passionate about.
17. Dealing with Behaviors Is Exhausting
Tantrums and meltdowns are a natural part of a child’s development as they learn how to, well, be a human.
They have no idea how to manage their emotions. Sometimes they don’t have enough language to communicate their wants, needs, thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
We know this is normal. That doesn’t mean it isn’t exhausting.
It’s also incredibly inconvenient and embarrassing when you’re out in public. My daughter had such explosive meltdowns as a toddler, I avoided taking my children anywhere by myself for several years. That sucked.
You have to try your best to stay calm but give yourself grace when you don’t. Sometimes you have to pick them up like a log and trek back to the car. That’s life.
18. Being a Mom Can Be Socially Isolating
When you become a mom, you naturally have to spend more time at home. This is particularly true with wee babies.
Even when your kids get a little older, you realize they also need consistent bedtime routines. That means not staying up as late.
I try my best to get together with friends when I can, but it doesn’t happen very often. Sometimes it feels like more work just to make it happen.
I’m hoping as my kids get older, I’ll start connecting with their friend’s moms and I will feel more social again. Right now, though, I feel like a total recluse. A hermit. A bridge troll. I only come out when it’s absolutely necessary.
I envy the moms with young kids who still get out all the time. My sister-in-law is one of those moms. She has three very young kids but she knows she has to be social to thrive. She’s a total extrovert. She invests in a babysitter because it’s important to her.
It can hard to trust other people to watch your child, but if you’re feeling incredibly lost and lonely, it would be worth looking into. Ask around and get recommendations from others.
19. Personal Space Does Not Exist
Whether it’s a crying baby who needs to be held or a toddler who wants to climb into your lap, moms can often feel like they don’t have a moment to themselves.
Being “touched out” is a very real thing. Ultimately, it can affect your relationship with your significant other as well.
My family knows that after bedtime, mommy gets a bath and book time. Nobody is allowed to enter my bathroom or knock on the door unless there is an absolute emergency. If I don’t get that time, we will not be ok.
20. Your Chores Are Never-Ending
I’m talking about the chores we all hate the most. Those are laundry and dishes. Or is that just me?
We literally burned out a new dishwasher and a new washing machine within 3 years.
Our poor dishwasher runs daily, sometimes twice daily.
And the laundry for a family of 5 is just ridiculous. I try to knock it all out on Sundays, so I don’t have piles to fold and put away every single day. It’s a lot, but it’s what works for me right now. You can read more about my laundry hacks in this post. (Hint: stop folding your kids’ clothes)
21. People Are Super Nosy
Your family, along with random strangers, are going to think your family planning is their business.
If you don’t want kids, they will never stop asking you why. They might think they can convince you otherwise.
You have one kid, they’ll keep asking when you’re having the next one.
If you have a multiples boys, they’ll ask if you’re trying for a girl.
When you have multiple girls, they’ll ask if you’re trying for a boy.
People will assume you’re pregnant and ask in front of large groups of people if you decide you’re skipping the alcohol that night.
If you’re having difficulty getting pregnant, there will be insensitive questions and comments. The general public is obsessed with our reproduction. It’s bizarre.
22. Sometimes We Silently Suffer from Miscarriages
I’m starting to think the majority of us have had at least one miscarriage. But we just don’t talk about it. I had two between my first and second child.
It’s traumatic and isolating. And because most people don’t understand it, we suffer silently on our own. The first time it happened to me, my husband tried to get me to go to a birthday party later that night because it was just a “late period.” Don’t worry, ladies, I educated him. He was much more sensitive the next time.
If it happens to you, know that you aren’t alone. Find support groups online. Share your feelings. Cry. It’s a loss and it’s ok to be sad.
23. The Days Are Long, but the Years Are Short
This is just so darn true.
Every day can feel like a struggle but before you know it your newborn is in 2nd grade (*sob*).
I can’t remember which creator I saw on TikTok that said this, but it has really stuck with me. She said when she’s having a hard day, she pretends this day was a wish granted to her as an old woman. She wishes she could have one more day with her kids, and this is that day.
Oh my god, cue the tears.
Even though being a mom is incredibly hard, it is absolutely worth it.
The good times are really, really good.
And how amazing is it that you’ve been gifted these precious souls to raise!
Just make sure you have a solid support group. It’s hard work and you can’t do EVERYTHING on your own.
Over to you- what else would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments!