Parenting Is Hard: Modern Parenting is Harder

When people ask me how we’re adjusting to life with three kids, I usually say something like, “It’s going pretty well! I’ve lowered my standards a lot!” They laugh, like I’m making a joke. But I’m absolutely serious. I’ve had to let go of some things, like activities and play dates, so that our days run smoothly. I also let go of the expectation of having a clean house or, in all honesty, fully clothed children. When we decided we wanted three little ones, I wondered about the extra challenges it would bring our way. One thing I realized is that people have been having lots and lots of kids for…ever. Not just three, but three times three. In fact, people used to have kids because it made their life easier. I can’t think of a single person I know who would say that ease motivated them to have children. Parenting is hard, but these days, it’s harder than it needs to be.

Related: Five Things to Consider When You’re Super Busy

Parenting is Hard

Parents have so many expectations placed on top of them today, weighing them down like a dirty diaper. On top of expectations and responsibilities inside the home, there are tons of other expectations outside the home. This crowds out the sweet baby snuggles and replaces them with stress and Pinterest-worthy events. Instead of being content with letting our little ones play outside, telling them not to come home until dinner’s on the table, we cart them from practice to activity to meeting. In the past, the bar was set much lower. Keep the kids fed and alive. Let’s take a look at how some of these expectations have changed.

Related: Are We Really Savoring the Moments?


I think this is probably the most glaring change. In the past, the idea was that children will learn what’s safe and what isn’t safe. Now, we are expected to scan a 100-yard perimeter in search of anything that could possibly be of harm to our precious cherubs. Sticks? Danger! Mud? But what if they slip? Or eat the mud and get a mysterious bacteria? There are a million what ifs, and we constantly worry about what could happen, because also….

We Know Too Much

There has been research done about every possible thing under the sun. And for every single food or fun family activity ever invented, there’s a horror story of how it went wrong. So in turn, we pile up stress and double down on watchfulness, and…

We Keep Our Kids With Us ALL The Time

Unless they’re in school or co-op, or at an organized activity, our kids are with us. There could be something deadly in that creek over there, and please, don’t forget stranger danger! Unsupervised children could get us a call from CPS. Honestly, I feel like neighborhood eyes are on me when one of my children steps foot on the front porch. In the past, children were sent outside for an entire day, while Mom cleaned the house and regained her sanity…or, composure. But now, they are mostly inside and mostly with us all the time, and…

We’re Expected to Entertain Them

Coming up with crafts and activities and ways to entertain our children is now one of our main duties as moms. Hearing the dreaded words, “I’m bored!” is to be avoided at all costs. “But of course, when we’re entertaining children all the time, with tempera paints and glitter, it makes the next expectation especially difficult-


Moms of previous generations had spic-and-span houses. This makes most modern moms feel a little twitchy. How in the world are our houses supposed to stay clean? Compared to the 1950’s, our houses are on average twice as big, and we own about five times more clothes than people did in the first half of the century. (source) We have more space to clean, and more stuff to clean. It’s exhausting. We bear the burden of our houses and stuff mostly on our own, because-

Related: Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies for Frugal Moms

Kids Don’t Do As Many Chores

Gone are the days of having kids because they help out around the farm (house!) I don’t think free labor is a good reason to have children, but even the idea of asking kids help around the house is becoming weird. A 2014 survey showed that about 28% of kids do regular chores (source.) I even witnessed a very dramatic woman participate in a discussion, claiming that chores=slave labor. Personally, I think chores=work ethic.

Related: Chores: Good for Kids, Good for Moms


Setting Realistic Expectations

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Parenting like people did 30 or more years ago is just not going to happen.

But can’t we lower our expectations, just a little bit? Last year, I sat frustrated and venting at a MOPS meeting. The lovely mentor mom at my table, a mom who had children who are my age, tried to make me feel better about the loads of screen time and messy floors that crept their way into our house during my last pregnancy. Her sage advice was, “You kept your children safe all day, you fed them, and they know they are loved. You should celebrate that.” When the standard that I set is for my children and for my family and not based on someone else’s Instagram feed, then parenting really does seem easier.


We don’t necessarily have to lower the bar for our standard of clean, but instead we can reduce what we have to clean. We can get rid of stuff so we aren’t constantly trying to put it back in the right place. Instead of upsizing our houses to fit all of the stuff we collect, we can downsize our collections.

Related: What Clutter Steals from Us

Simplify Your Schedule

Instead of keeping up with this idea that kids have to be kept busy All The Time, give them some time to be bored. Allow gaps in your schedule. In our home, this makes for more peaceful days. When we’re not constantly running from one thing to the next, there is definitely less stress.

Have Kids Help Out

Of course we are exhausted when we try to do everything! Make a chore chart to remind your kids (and you!) that they should help out regularly.

Try to Relax

With so much information floating around, it can be hard to relax as a parent. Let your child make mistakes to discover their boundaries. Kids who are hovered over all the time don’t learn self-management, and often end up having more frequent and serious injuries than their more adventurous friends.

Simplicity Parenting

This book is a great summer read, since it talks about slowing down the pace of life! Clutter, over-scheduling, and stress can all contribute to parenting struggles. I’ve recently been implementing quiet days at home when it seems that one of my children has a “soul fever” (attitude and restlessness.)

I’m willing to make some changes to reclaim the joy in parenting.


Is #parenting harder than it used to be, or are expectations crazier?




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  • Jen @ Bookish Family May 15, 2018 at 6:03 am

    I love Simplicity Parenting and I think it really helped prepare me to take on homeschooling by helping reclaim the vision for my home and family. It doesn’t have to be what others are doing!!! My kids can have less books, less toys, less activities, less screens, less food options, leaving more time for their self-directed free play, chores, and family time, and for me to do the things I want to do too!

    • leahbmartin May 15, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      You are so right that we don’t have to do what others are doing! I think social media allows us to hold ourselves to impossible standards! I love that you’ve simplified your home like that!

      • Jen @ Bookish Family May 16, 2018 at 7:18 am

        It helps that I quit FB in 2013 and have no other social media accounts 🙂

        • leahbmartin May 23, 2018 at 8:49 pm

          So smart! I always dream of that…but that would basically mean I’d have to quit blogging! Haha!


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