Motherhood is one of the most challenging jobs a woman can take on in her lifetime. Mind you, it is also one of the most rewarding but OH MY GOD are there hiccups along the way?!
Whether you are a stay at home mom or a work from home mom. Even if you are a working mom, the difficulty level remains the same. Why, because you are responsible for making functioning human beings out of tiny people.
There are so many parenting blogs out there. There’s so much advice from so-called “experts”. There are so many dos and don’ts that sometimes it can make you feel quite inadequate.
Don’t even get me started on the advice from almost everyone around you. Everyone has something to say. The thing is, there is no one size fits all. It makes me sick to my stomach when people give blanket advice as if everyone is the exact same. As if we’re all cut from the same cloth, with the same experiences and same circumstances. ?
There is no way for me to compress everything I want to say into just five tips. So this will be the first of posts where I share my top tips for being a better mom – a better parent. These tips work for dads too.
Be sure to share this with other moms and dads you know. Now without further ado, here are five ways you can be a better mom:
Celebrate your wins
Motherhood is full of so many ups and downs. Some days you feel like you know what you’re doing. Other days you feel completely lost and like you are failing at this parenting thing.
But unless you’re, like, absolutely terrible and you’re just an abusive mom, then I’m sure you can find at least one moment where you got it right this week.
I’ll share a moment with you. A few days ago I wrote a post on dealing with social anxiety as a mom. I spent hours working on it, sharing my personal struggles and how I deal with it (I am very big on mental health).
Then I decided to leave my laptop open to run to the kitchen as it was time to make dinner only to return to my station to see my two-year-old “typing” away on my laptop. ? Needless to say , when I checked….everything was COMPLETELY DELETED! ??
This was a win for me because a few years ago I would have completely freaked out about losing so much work. Especially as a writer whose content is always inspiration-based (not the greatest when you deal with depression, anxiety AND anger management).
I looked at his little face smiling and telling me he’s “typing” and I realized at that moment that I HAVE grown and I felt so proud of myself.
One of my personal goals for this year was to be less reactive and it really did hit me…”Alicia, you ARE less reactive“. I say this to say, sometimes you get so caught up in life that you don’t even notice the small hurdles you overcome along the way – the little wins every day – and sometimes you don’t even realize that you have in fact achieved your goal.
You get there and you don’t even get to enjoy your success and be proud of yourself. Take breaks, take moments to celebrate your wins, do a parenting goal evaluation, do a self-check and be proud of yourself. If you’re still growing and improving, that in itself is a win. Remember that.
The truth is, the fact that you are constantly researching ways to be better – you’re constantly evaluating yourself and your parenting style – and the fact that you think about them in almost everything (if not everything) you do, that in itself is worth celebrating.
There is no way to be a perfect parent.
If you are trying to be a perfect parent, you are probably failing at being an effective parent. There is no such thing as the perfect mom, the perfect dad, the perfect parent.
Instead of focusing your efforts on looking good in the public eye or being the perfect family with perfect kids, focus instead on being a present parent. Focus on being the best parent you can possibly be while continuously improving and learning from your mistakes and the mistakes of other parents.
No, you shouldn’t be raising your voice at your kids every time the clock ticks but, for the love of God, if you snap one time it doesn’t mean you are the worst parent in existence. Cut yourself some slack.
Apologize to your kid if necessary and ensure that you own up to your mistakes while still maintaining the disciplinary lesson that needs to be taught.
Take care of yourself.
If you give every waking moment of your life to your kids, you are bound to snap. If you eat, sleep and breath your kids you are doing it wrong. While there is no one way to do it right, dedicating every waking moment of your day to your kids is certainly one way to do it wrong.
You have to take care of yourself. You have to take breaks and spend time alone. Do things that make you happy, even if your kids can’t partake. Now trust me, moms, when I tell you I know this is hard to do because you feel guilty and feel like you’re missing out on a moment you could be using to bond with the kids.
This is something I struggle with myself and my fiance literally had to talk sense into me about this. I was so bad at taking care of myself (still not the best at it even now) that I wouldn’t even buy myself lunch while running errands without thinking about how I’m going to take some back home for the boys.
I would literally save some of whatever I bought for them or not bother to buy it if I couldn’t figure out how they would get it too. Sounds a bit much right?
Taking care of yourself also means guarding your mental health. It means guarding yourself against toxic people and also ensuring that you do not become a toxic parent. You have to take care of yourself. You can only be the best parent you can be if you are the best YOU, you can be.
Well, be as consistent as your personality allows. I say “as your personality allows” because I still want you to keep tip number two in mind. Perfection is not the aim, effectiveness is.
You can be effective by taking care of yourself and also by being consistent. Rules are essential for kids. It helps them to navigate the world if they know what is expected of them: what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
It also helps them to understand that when they display bad behaviors, it does not automatically mean THEY are bad but that the behavior is unacceptable. Set rules that are reasonable for their age and be realistic about your expectations.
It is also important to note that if you set a consequence, you need to be consistent and follow through with it otherwise you will have taught your kids that your word has little meaning. Disciplining your kids will always be challenging because you don’t want to see them sad. But remember you are a parent first and a friend second.
Spend quality time with your kids.
Busy moms find this extremely challenging to do because there is always so much to do. I put this on the list because it is so important that we spend QUALITY time with our kids.
I asked my eleven-year-old what’s one piece of advice he would give to parents. His response was “spend time with your kids”. You see, the quality of the time you spend with your kids matters more than the quantity of the time you spend with them.
Spend time having fun with your kids. Interact with them and bond doing things THEY like doing. Things THEY find fun, not what YOU think is fun, what you think they should be interested in, and not what you would have found fun at their age.
It’s extremely easy for us to subconsciously live vicariously through our kids. This is why tip number three is so important. However, in order to learn what your kids’ interests are, you will have to talk to your kids.
Quality time isn’t always about going somewhere to do something exciting. Sometimes it can simply be devoting your undivided attention to them to listen to them share their ideas with you. You might be amazed at how they see the world.
There is no way I can sum up how to be a great parent in just five tips and there is no one size fits all, but be sure to check out my other posts where I share more of my tips on how to be a better parent. All in all, remember this there are no perfect moms but there are good moms doing their best and constantly trying to be better.
Read Nthatoday’s article on The Busy Mom’s Guide to Overcoming Mom Guilt for more great tips to help you on your motherhood journey.
From one mom to another: You’ve got this! Remember sharing is caring so don’t forget to share this article with all your new mom friends. Join the discussion in my Facebook group. Share your tips in the comment section and over on Facebook. What are your best tips for being a better mom? I’d love to hear from you.