I’m So Over this ’18 Summers’ Mom Guilt Trip Trend


    Momming is so freaking hard. And exhausting. And overwhelming. And, oh yeah, rewarding. But being a mom in the age of social media is downright toxic at times.

    Depending on which accounts you stumble upon, you should be doing any or all of the following:

    • Joyfully curating Montessori-inspired tasks and activities to foster independence in your gloriously neutral home decor
    • Homesteading all the things, gleefully canning tomato sauce with your feral child who has just finished shearing the sheep and collecting all the hens’ eggs
    • Living the #vanlife with your littles to explore the world, seemingly without worrying about a budget
    • Homeschooling or unschooling your child, calmly and cheerfully
    • Visiting Disney as often as possible, also seemingly without thinking about the budget
    • Creating gorgeous, nutritious bento box lunches, preferably from all the prepped food you have waiting in the fridge, ready to leap into your child’s sustainable lunch bag
    • Finding magic and contentment in every single moment 

    If any of these descriptions fit your family, fabulous! I’m definitely not picking on anyone’s choices or their capacity to make these scenarios a reality.

    But I do have a beef with the inundation of images and videos that make it seem as if this is all the norm, and those of us who aren’t doing it are in the minority. Because guess what follows as soon as we recognize we don’t live up to those videos? Massive mom guilt. 

    And those guilty feelings can really settle in for a long visit, can’t they? They sure can for me. 

    The 18 Summers Guilt Trip

    Image of a mom and her son at the beachOne of the biggest mom guilt trends at the moment is the “18 summers” idea. These videos generally show some young kids playing outdoors with a caption along the lines of “You only have 18 summers with your children.” The implied message is that you better make those summers count, or you’ll be sorry. You’ll regret every magical moment that you didn’t create for your kiddos.

    While I can glimpse the intent behind this sentiment, I hate it nonetheless. 

    It hits parents in the gut with guilt. And it hits hard. This 18-summers notion implies that parents (mostly moms) are responsible for crafting 18 impressively memorable summers for their children so that we don’t ruin their lives. 

    It also completely discounts the reality for most families that the parents need to work, summer or not. They don’t have endless hours, dollars, and energy to make these golden days Pinterest-worthy.

    And worst of all, this trope somehow tries to convince us that we will no longer be in our kids’ lives once they hit age 18. My husband and I have four children, three of whom are adults. Please trust me when I say, we are still very much in their lives. They didn’t suddenly stop being our kids when their 18th birthdays hit. We didn’t become estranged overnight. 

    And don’t get me wrong. I loved summer adventures with my children! We were fortunate enough to have some pretty good summer vacations and opportunities over the years. 

    But we simply did what we could with our time, budget, and energy. Some days it was a picnic in our backyard. Some days (five, to be precise) we were in Disneyland. And some (most) days I was just surviving the mountains of laundry and my kids’ insatiable need for snacks.

    Enough, Already

    So to the mamas who have stumbled upon the 18-summers thing and feel sad, overwhelmed, upset, or guilty because of it, I see you. 

    I see you wishing you had all the resources to create these allegedly magical 18 summers.

    I see you wondering if something is wrong with you because you’d rather be at work than entertaining tiny humans all summer.

    I see you struggling to make ends meet, only to have social media tell you it’s not enough. 

    I see you.

    And although parenting permission is never required, I know that as moms we often crave it. So if you are seeking permission to ignore, reject, and deny the 18 summers head game, here it is! 

    You are free to parent your children in the way that works for you and your family. You are free to feel freaking fantastic simply for getting through the day with everyone still mostly intact. You are free to feel thrilled to drop off your children at summer camp so you can head to work without guilt. 

    Because the one thing I have grown to understand during my 20+ years of parenting is that however I am able to show up for my kids is good enough in that moment. My energy, time, and finances shift, changing what I can or can’t do with my children. But however it looks from day to day, it’s good enough. 

    My love for them and my love of being a mom doesn’t change. And they know that, 18 magical summers or not. And your kids know it, too. 

    So here’s to a great summer, whatever that looks like for your family!


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    Kristin Ratten is passionate about seeing moms and entrepreneurs succeed. As the mom of four teenagers, she understands the ups and downs of parenthood in all its stages and the unique challenges that come with running a business while running a family. And as the owner of Little Lambs Christian Montessori School, Kristin has 30+ years of teaching and parent coaching experience. Kristin also owns Kristin Ratten Content Services, where she spends time creating high-performing content and strategy for small business owners. She is a vocal advocate for small businesses and supporting local economies. When she’s not teaching/writing/parenting, Kristin is an avid reader, making her uniquely suited to the rainy days of her native Pacific Northwest. She and her husband are embracing this stage of parenting that involves being called “Bruh” on a regular basis.


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