An Uncomplicated Life Blog: "I Don't" Mom Culture

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"I Don't" Mom Culture

There's a new trend in mom culture, listing all the things you "don't do" with pride. Here's why I think it needs to change.

Typically, I write my blog posts out weeks in advance. I have my month entirely planned out, and usually half the next month too, in terms of content. But if you've been watching my IG stories, you know we got utterly taken out by a tummy bug (some of us twice!) and it's thrown off everything, so here I am writing this post the week it goes up. Interestingly enough, in the time I brainstormed it, asked y'all in last Thursday's post if I should actually write it and had the chance to sit down and write it, my perspective on the whole thing has changed! Not my opinion, but my perspective. What was going to be a fairly strong worded post on "I Don't" mom culture (if you haven't heard of that yet, I'll explain below) is now, hopefully, going to be more encouraging as opposed to scathing. I've actually been reading some of my old posts and thinking, "Jeez Paige, that was a little strong worded... If people didn't know you personally, they'd think you're a real jerk!" So! While I will share my thoughts on "I Don't" mom culture, because it's still me here, I also want to share the weird/divine interventions that have inspired me to change my tone.

First, let's talk about "I Don't" mom culture. I guess on one of the bigger, collaborative mom blogs in Australia (think similar to Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, etc that we have here in the U.S.) there was a post from a mom blogger who started the "I Don't" list. I think she probably had good intentions. It was a way for moms to vent about how they don't do it all - they don't cook from scratch every night after working all day, they don't have tidy homes, they don't limit their children's screen times, and so on. It was a post intended to laugh and bond over some of our shortcomings or imperfections or what-have-you's about motherhood. Here's a link to the post. It was shared in multiple mom groups I'm in, from local to international, and the thread of comments from women who loved this idea was expansive. Hundreds upon hundreds of women chimed in, proudly displaying what they "don't do" as moms/wives/caretakers/spouses/etc.

So that's "I Don't" mom culture. And I'm going to tell you exactly what I think about it and how it's failing us as women. But first (well, secondly at this point) the divine intervention! I knew if I laid out all my thoughts as passionately as I felt them, I'd get burned at the cross by other moms for it. It'd come across as judgmental, snarky, a know-it-all, and a do-it-all post. I went to lunch with a friend whom I haven't seen in several years a bit ago, and we talked about it. She wants to start a Christian blog with an unconventional twist, so we were talking all things blogging as I shared my idea with her. 

She listened to my ideas and thoughts on the topic and said she agreed - there was a lot of truth in what I had to say. But she suggested that instead of just criticizing the "movement" (should we even call it that?) that perhaps I should use it as a way to encourage moms to do better. To say, hey it's ok to not do everything perfectly, or as we "should" do it, but instead of giving ourselves a virtual high five for all the things we DON'T do, lets change the narrative to ways we can help each other. I loved that!

It's now Sunday and I'm sitting down to write this post that goes up Thursday (like I said, I'm way behind from this tummy bug!) Every Sunday morning I do a devotional from this book and this book (both take less than 2 minutes and are seriously LIFE CHANGING! I'm not religious so much as I am spiritual, although I was baptized and raised Christian, and I highly suggest getting them. $10 or less each and they're both BEAUTIFUL books to boot, full of encouraging and beautiful thoughts) and the topic of the day's post was judgment. I laughed as I read the title because I was just about to sit down and write this post! Anyhow, this passage really struck me: "But we have a tendency to see someone else's sin before we see our own... We never know how far someone has come, and we're not always sure what another family is going through. As moms, we need to be careful of thinking that the way we do things is the only way to do things. Instead, we need to walk humbly with one another and always extend grace, remembering how much we ourselves are in need of it."

Boom. The older I get, the more I see how much God is trying to talk to me and my heart, everyday. It's always right there in front of my face, I just have to choose to see it.

I don't think there's any inherent harm in "bonding" over shortcomings as moms. I know I've definitely spoken with a mom friend and talked about how I made a nasty dinner (burned it, recipe fail, doesn't matter!) and she's responded with a similar story. I've confessed to friends about how I wasn't proud of the way I disciplined one of my children before. I feel like talking about the ways in which we make mistakes as parents is normal and healthy. It's a way for us as moms to confess, process and move on with them.

But this movement isn't that. If it was intended as that, it's morphed into something else. 

It's almost like a competition to see which mom doesn't do even some of the most basic parenting. I can't tell you how many moms replied that they didn't limit screen time at ALL, that they fed their kids fast food most days of the week and that their houses were a disastrous mess. Newsflash: you're child isn't getting any smarter staring at that screen (probably while you stare at yours...), fast food has no nutrition in it, not to mention all the preservatives and chemicals that make it not even real food (oh, and the sodium and high calorie count...) and while my home isn't always perfect (there's toys all over the floor as I write this) who wants to live in filth?!

As parents, it's our job to instill good habits and behavior in our kids, and I don't get how any of those things are doing that. WE are the ones who need to set boundaries. WE are the ones that need to encourage physical and imaginative play for brain and muscle development. WE control what our children eat and the nutrition they (do or don't) get. WE control our home's environment, and have the power to assign chores so that we don't have to do it alone.

The internet emboldens people. They say things online they'd never have the courage to say to someone's face. And this "I Don't" mom culture is a bizarre way to brag about how you're a crappy mom. Nobody expects perfection! My kids had grilled cheese and tator tots last week from a local greasy spoon/fast food type spot. But it's one thing to occasionally do these things and it's another to have it be your lifestyle. A lifestyle that you brag about online. It's not brag worthy to live that lifestyle.

Speaking of "mom culture" I wrote this post earlier this year on some other bizarre things that are cool with moms that I simply don't identify or agree with if you want to check it out. 

I'd love to switch the "I Don't" mom culture to "I Didn't" so that it's not a lifestyle of things we don't do, but hey - something I didn't do today but I'll try again tomorrow. I fed my kids fast food last Thursday (after I had been up the whole night with sick kids) so I DIDN'T cook that night; but Friday I defrosted some homemade bone broth chicken soup and baked biscuits! Isn't that a much better narrative to tell? I didn't that one day, but dangit, I'm going to try again tomorrow! I feel like "I Didn't" gives us the room for grace on the bad days, but encourages us to try again the next day. It doesn't let us ingrain bad habits into our lifestyle with a flippant "oh well!" I'd love to see the negativity of the "I Don't" mom lists switched to an "I Didn't" with encouragement from other moms that tomorrow is a new day.


  1. I agree with you on this I Don’t notion and culture. It’s one thing to have a network to support you during moments of “donts” and loving you with your shortcomings- and we need to give ourselves grace, but that doesn’t mean celebrating the weaknesses and never striving to change.

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