Everywhere I’ve lived, there’s been the obvious disparity between the wealthy and the impoverished. In Kansas, it was new developments next to farm homes; in New York, it was fancy condos alongside low-income apartments; and in Colorado, I’ve seen gated communities across from a trailer park. No matter where I go in this beautiful country, there are those with more and those with less. It’s not a unique circumstance now that we’ve found our forever home in Northern Colorado. What is different is my perspective.
Once I became a mom, I never wanted my children to have less, whatever less meant. As a new stay-at-home mom, I desperately wanted to keep up with the appearances of popular mom behaviors, such as long, luxurious walks through the aisles of Target with a Starbucks in my hand.
Whatever my children needed or wanted, within reason, I made happen. Whatever costs I paid to make myself comfortable while keeping my kids healthy and happy weren’t even a side thought.
Playdate at a coffee house? No problem. Grab a lunch while you’re out and about with the kiddos? Why not! Fun indoor play places for my toddlers that come with waivers and fees? Yep, I can swing that!
We attended all the birthday parties and I worked hard to ensure we had a memorable gift. And, of course, I felt less than if my girls’ birthdays weren’t Pinterest perfect too. Oh, and if I hosted a playdate, I couldn’t handle it if I didn’t offer the most kid-favorite spread for snacks, including those little smoothies, and I was desperate to have my home appear as if I decorated seasonally to the mamas. I supported every direct marketer that had the courage and compassion to approach me with a solution through purchases because I had that mom hustle in my heart, too. I wanted all the things!
Reality Check Plus Interest
And then the bills of such a lifestyle gave me a harsh reality check. I had created habits that were well above our means. No, we do not live in poverty, but I began to have an impoverished mindset, meaning I felt jealousy and bitterness about the success of others. I started to allow those items that were irresponsible of me to spend money on define me as a caregiver, a mom.
I began to resent those who didn’t have to worry about a moms’ night out, or a lunch out for their kids, or heck, a $3+ coffee. And then I began to hide the truth within truths. “I don’t shop at Target anymore, I had a really bad customer-service experience there.” Which is 100% true. I have yet to step foot inside a Target since the day I had a belittling and embarrassing customer-service experience, but I also choose to not shop there because I struggled to stay within budget and now Dollar Tree is my new best friend for fun, cute, trendy finds and everyday items.
“I really don’t like Starbucks, it tastes burnt to me.” Gasp! Another truth. It’s true that I don’t prefer the taste of Starbucks coffee, but I’ve also consumed coffee every single morning when I worked in an editorial office that we all referred to as “sludge” without complaint. Coffee is coffee, y’all! The underlying truth is that I can’t justify the cost when I’m budgeting my family meals to be less than $1 a plate.
But living with resentment and constantly hiding the real truths as to why my stay-at-home mom outings and routines had drastically changed wasn’t serving anyone, and most certainly wasn’t serving me.
Yes, deprivation can lead to a mindset that can dig you into a bigger hole. If I wasn’t sleeping because of my “hard baby” (pediatrician’s, midwife’s, and lactation consultant’s words before mine), I was missing much needed rest because of worry, anxiety, fear, and resentment.
My kids couldn’t care less if they got to play at an indoor playroom that cost money or an open gym at the rec center that was free (if you’d like a guide to free rec center open gyms, let me know in the comments). My mom friends never questioned why I stuck to my water at the coffee shop. The only person who cared was me and I was quickly defeating myself, dimming my light at the end of the tunnel to dark.
Not only did I have to take responsibility for minimalist spending, I needed to take control of my impoverished thoughts because abundance is a mindset too.
5 Ways to Develop an Abundance Mindset
1. Stop Trying to Keep Up with the Joneses
My failure to “keep up with the Joneses” does not mean that I’m inferior. In the beautiful words by Nancy Tillman in On the Night You Were Born (one of our favorite bedtime books, by the way),
For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
has the world ever known a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again…
Not only can the efforts to “keep up” or be like anyone other than yourself get expensive, those efforts are counterproductive in honoring you, the one and only you.
2. Lean on Your Sisters
Once I came clean to my mom friends about the truths I’d tried to hide, I found that I was brought even closer into community. I’m far from alone in my situation and my feelings. And through allowing myself to be vulnerable and honest, new ways to give and receive were discovered. We all have important and needed skills, talents, and gifts that money can’t buy and that aren’t defined by an income.
If you’re like me, it might be pride that keeps you from receiving. So, I encourage you to let go and lean on, because I learned so many beautiful ways that I could support my sisters that I hadn’t tapped into prior to this surrender. From help with meals, childcare, and cleaning, to clothes or product swaps, I’ve gained and given so much.
3. Always be Kind
To yourself, to others, kindness always wins. Listen to that internal dialogue and if it doesn’t sound like you speaking to a friend, check it! Never ignore or ghost someone because of your fear of how your answer or circumstance may sound or be taken. Being kind includes being considerate. We all want to be heard, we all want to belong.
4. Be a Cheerleader
You might not believe this now, but I was a cheerleader in junior high and high school. I remember one game where our opponents didn’t have a cheerleading squad. Rather than have our voices be the only and the loudest, we split our squad up and half of us cheered for the other team.
There are enough resources and opportunities for success for all of us, says the abundance mindset. I say, in the game of life, everyone deserves a cheerleader. The best way to recruit your cheerleader? Be one! Not only will your behavior be the example for others, and don’t forget your kids, it will make your heart light. It’s hard to feel resentment when you’re cheering on others’ successes, big or small.
5. Practice Gratitude
Lastly and most importantly, be grateful through consistent gratitude practices. Just as learning to balance on one foot takes practice, so does learning to see the world through gratitude. When I used to get frustrated, ashamed, or isolated by being a one-vehicle family, I now see the benefits — the birds my daughter pointed out on our walk to the library, the gas that we save, and the chats I get to have with my husband to and from work drop-offs and pick-ups. I no longer see something that we can’t afford. Instead I see many gifts granted especially to us.
There are many ways you can practice gratitude. Some write out daily lists, meditate, smile more often, connect with friends and family, or consume inspiring content.
Find what you’re able to do consistently and stick with it because the stronger your gratitude recognition grows, the more capable you are to feel it without having to even think about it. The moment a negative thought sneaks in, it is followed by gratitude, even if what you’re grateful for is simply your ability to breathe deeply.