It’s true. I have FOMO and I’ve most likely passed it on to my kids. But what exactly is FOMO and how do you know if you have it? Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a real phenomenon where one might experience anxiety over missing an opportunity or experience. Often brought on by social media scrolling and seeing pictures of your friend’s trip to Costa Rica, your cousin’s birthday party at Chicken N Pickle or the Grand Opening at Crumbl Cookies. Maybe you have insecurity about how you and your family spend your time, whether professionally, socially or in mom mode. Is your Enneagram a Type 7? You want to do ALL THE THINGS.
There are varying degrees and causes of FOMO. I remember when I was a brand new stay-at-home mom; I pictured myself going to mommy-and-me groups and all the educational fun my son and I would have together. I signed up for the baby music class, I led my church’s MOPS group and went to library story time. I had new mom FOMO! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the adventures we went on, but I felt that I needed to fill every moment proving that I was the best mom. Several years down the road, I had two boys and was ready to go back into the workplace (only meaning an 8-5 schedule, because every mom is a working mom!). With this new job came a great deal of mom guilt as we moved into a different routine. Of course I wasn’t ready to let go of anything, though, and I didn’t want my boys to miss out on any activities because of my work schedule. Weeknight evenings were filled up with committee meetings, sports practices and piano lessons while weekends were packed with berry picking, museums and birthday parties. Now I had working mom FOMO!
Still, why was it a problem if I was handling everything? If I could juggle my job, marriage, friendships, volunteering and my kids’ activities, I would be doing all the things, just like I wanted. But here’s the thing. Our kids watch what we’re doing. They see us scrolling Instagram instead of being fully present and rushing them to get shoes on and eating dinner in the car. I was giving my kids FOMO with my constant desire to be everywhere and do everything. I could see it when my son was using a gift card he received for his birthday to pick out a toy. “I can’t decide between the PJ Masks playlet or the Lego set! They both look so fun!”. Or when given the choice between flag football and soccer, he wanted to join both teams. Yes, these are examples of FOMO. Neither of these examples may seem like a big deal on the surface, but I knew my addiction to busy-ness was rubbing off on my kids.
Trying to detox from FOMO isn’t easy. We love being active and exploring our community. It’s hard to find the joy in missing out (JOMO) sometimes when you are naturally a person who enjoys being on-the-go. But I have found a couple “mom hacks” when our FOMO is out of control.
First, take a social media break.
You may not even realize how all that mindless scrolling is stirring up feelings of discontent. Disable your notifications, delete your social media apps or just plain turn off your phone.
Second, practice being unpredictable.
When my kids sign up for an activity, I expect them to follow through as much as possible. It actually bothers me when they miss a game or practice because I picture the money I paid to enroll and the skills they are missing going right down the drain. One day on the way to practice while listening to your tired, complaining child in the backseat, pull over and head straight to the nearest park instead! How surprised and excited your kids will be if you allow yourself to be unpredictable once in a blue moon, instead of worrying about one day of missed batting practice.
Third, allow your kids to experience boredom.
Have a free Saturday coming up? Don’t schedule anything and allow your children to use their imaginations. You may hear cries of “I’m bored!” at first, but all those Legos, STEM kits and packages of slime at your house have to be used someday, right? Let them experience an unscheduled day of play.
I love the quote from Elizabeth Gilbert that says, “Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat”. If you’re ready to ditch your FOMO, toss off that mink coat, kick off those fancy shoes and enjoy the life you’ve been given without fear of missing out!
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