Have you ever caught yourself in any kind of mom competitions? Maybe even a mom competition that the other mom didn’t even know she was in? Don’t lie, you know you’ve done it because I’ve done it, too. It’s an all too common habit, but one that can really steal from mental well-being.

I remember a time when I felt like I was in a silent competition with this woman who went to my same gym when I was in my early 20s. Every day, she seemed to be mirroring my workout routine (I killed it on the elliptical), and it really started to bother me. However, when she eventually approached me one afternoon she surprised me what what she said. “You pushed me to be better, it wasn’t a competition, I just wanted to be challenged.” Here I was thinking that she was trying to compete with me. . . my bad.

Imagine a world where we no longer compete with one another when it comes to life or parts of our lives like motherhood or careers. Imagine a world where we chose to challenge one another to become the best versions of ourselves without worrying about how our progress compares to that of others. What would it look like if you didn’t compete with anyone else anymore? Would you be happier? Would you carry less tension in your jaw when meeting up at the park for play dates? Would you breathe easier when heading to your child’s baseball game or gymnastics practice? Would you focus more on Jesus during a church worship service? Would you let go of unhealth relationships and focus more of life-giving friendships?

Distinguishing Healthy vs. Unhealthy Competition

Healthy competition, such as friendly fitness challenges or workplace contests, can be motivating. But when comparison consumes us, it becomes toxic. Motherhood shouldn’t be a race to reach milestones or outshine others; it’s a journey unique to each of us.

Tips for Breaking Free from Unhealthy Mom Competitions

  1. Set Your Own Goals: Define success on your terms, without letting others dictate your aspirations.

    For example, after three healthy pregnancies, my body has changed and what I was once able to do I can no longer do. That’s just my truth. I also have friends who are more limber and athletic now than ever before – it’s like pregnancy did the exact opposite for them as it did for me. While I am over here doing my best to hit my 30 minutes of exercise a day (and sometimes failing at that), they are challenging their bodies to run half marathons and hitting yoga poses that I am still dreaming about. We are all working towards loving and moving our bodies better, but it looks different for each of us and that is fine.
  2. Reframe Conversations: Shift from competitive responses to genuine admiration and support for others’ achievements.

    You can go from competitive responses like, “Oh wow you received another promotion at work,” to “I admire how you are so dedicated to your career”. This still offers your friend support and encouragement while reminding your brain and heart that it isn’t a competition.
  3. Celebrate Others: Practice celebrating friends’ successes without feeling the need to one-up them.

In motherhood, as in life, we have the power to choose how we engage with competition. We can opt for healthy encouragement or opt out altogether. It may require difficult conversations or social media detoxes, but reclaiming our peace is worth it.

Did you friend hit a new personal record for that 5K she worked on for months? Celebrate her. Did your friend’s child get chosen for the lead in the play? Celebrate them. When the time comes to share your own news, your friend will remember that you were there for them and they’ll want to celebrate you with the same respect. If not, well, then maybe you need to re-evaluate that friendship.

Choosing To Stop Competing

When it comes to mom competitions, you have all the power you need to decide whether you want to compete in a healthy or unhealthy way. You can choose your words and thoughts just as easily as you can choose who you’re comparing and competing with on a daily basis. It may not be easy separating yourself from the competition, but it is possible even if that means a difficult conversation with a friend or unfollowing someone on social media.

As moms, our time is limited just like our mental and emotional capacities. Life is challenging enough without the extra layers of keeping up with neighbors or popular mom influencers on social media. We always tell our kids that life isn’t about winning, but until we can live that truth ourselves, it’s just noise and robbing us of a motherhood that we truly deserve.