In a word: DON'T.
It's just not okay. It's unkind to the mother you decide to compete with and it's unfair to your kids for you to compete on their backs. It's hurtful all around. Just don't do it.
I bring this up because I've been the victim of competitive mothering a few times in the past couple of weeks. People are surprisingly conservative here in Perth, and a lot of moms stay home with their kids (as I am fortunate enough to do). This means there are a lot of moms out there watching other moms, and sometimes they feel the need to make comments. I'm (overly) sensitive to begin with, so when these comments come my way...well, one comment in particular hurt me so much last week that I cried off and on all afternoon (when the kids weren't watching so as not to upset them too). In fairness to the wounding party, Markus does think I took it the wrong way (too seriously, as is my custom). Still, it was hurtful and unnecessary, and the little comments have piled up to make me critically look at my mothering.
The paradox of parenthood is it simultaneously makes my heart burst with love and my brain implode with exhaustion. I am not perfect. I never claimed to be, and I know I never will be. I make mistakes. Sometimes I react poorly to things that deserve better reactions. Sometimes I lose my nut. Stephanie has yet to sleep through the night. If you count back from now to pregnancy insomnia to Ellie's night wakings, I really couldn't tell you the last time I slept through the night myself. I can't even remember the last time I slept for more than 4 consecutive hours. My current level of exhaustion is considered torture under some international treaties. And yet my house is acceptably clean. Though less so for our challenging eater, my family is healthfully fed meals cooked from scratch using fresh, local and organic when possible ingredients. And wouldn't you know it? I believe my kids are well-loved, well-looked-after, and well-supported in their pursuits to become incredibly busy little beings. Despite a major international move that has yet to be completed (our things aren't here yet)--heck, make that FOUR MOVES in THREE YEARS (3 of them international)--and routines being thrown to the wind, we are all keeping our heads above water, usually with smiles on our faces. Yes, I would like to be better at many things. There must be a hundred things on my imaginary to-do list of what I could do/make/arrange for them in an ideal world. I wish I had the energy at night to keep at it after they go to bed, but I just don't. When they go to bed, the most I can do most nights is finish cleaning up from dinner (unless the world's most fabulous husband/father is doing it) and sack out on the couch like a lump. After all, it won't be long before at least one of them is up again.
With more sleep being the obvious exception, there isn't one bit of it that I would trade. Sometimes I envy Markus the time he has away from the house while he's at work (after all, he gets to use the bathroom by himself!), but at the same time I know I wouldn't want any job other than the job I have. We aren't perfect...but then again, we are. We are a family, and we're in this together.