There are so many schools of advice and differing opinions on how to be a better mom. How to be more present, more engaged, more patient, and on and on. I don’t believe there’s one perfect way to parent- every family is different- but after two decades navigating the circus of motherhood, I’ve found that ditching these five habits have made me a much better mom and step mommy, to my brood of kiddos.
Bad Habit #1: Trying To Fit The Mold
I will never, ever be a crafty mom with Pinterest boards full of scrapbook ideas. Or sign up for the PTO. Or smile with all sincerity when forced to work the little league concession stand. I used to feel so bad about my “unMom” ways. Like I was selfish or missing some domestic chromosome. Eventually I’ve realized I’m good at lots of other things that just don’t necessarily translate to the level of whiteness I achieve when washing the kids’ sports jerseys. When we compare ourselves to other moms or at least their social media accounts, we can feel alone, “less than,” and just plain defeated. There will always be areas of parenthood we’re trying to improve-it’s not like I want to me that mom sending the kids to school on a professional development day…again- but in the meantime try and play up your strengths and remember we are exactly the moms God chose for our kids. With his help, we are enough. Period.
Bad Habit #2: Trying To Do It All
Most moms with young kids are straight up worn out. We have so much on our plates-work, shuffling the kids from activity to activity, managing meals and chores-I could write an entire book on what’s it’s like keeping it together in this increasingly complex world. We need to learn how to say the word ‘no,’ which is difficult for us martyr moms. Whether it’s declining another client, or passing on that volunteer need at church, or resisting a friend begging for a girls’ night out, it’s hard for women to say no when we feel needed. But when we’re stretched and over-committed, we’re simply less effective moms. We become tired, irritable and distracted when feeling stressed and overwhelmed. And no one wants to play Barbies with cranky mommy. Spend some time analyzing the amount of commitments and activities you’re involved in and really pray about minimizing anything that takes too much time and energy that should be dedicated to family life. And if we’re forced to decline that friend’s third jewelry party this year, so be it…thank you Lord…
Bad Habit #3: Living On Your Phone
We’ve all been there. Relaxing with the kids, watching a show, when a flurry of Facebook alerts light up your lock screen…and you just uploaded your family Fall photo session. That responsible inner voice does her best to remind us us it’s phone-free time. And then the other bully takes over….I’ll just check it for a second. And lemme just see if the realtor emailed back. And make sure that recipe called for onions. And before you know it, we’re swiping and thumbing through family time, right after we lectured the kids on excessive screen time. Being on our phones when the kids are around seems harmless enough, but those buggers can feel the difference when we’re not fully engaged, and they’ll eventually emulate our actions. Even if we’re just sharing a car ride with the kids, or zoning out to a show, our kids shouldn’t feel second best to a screen. Make a pact with yourself to keep the phone down during certain times to achieve whatever your phone-free goals are…it’s so worth the sacrifice. For more motivation, check out this great article on how our phone habits affect our kids.
Bad Habit #4: Not Forgiving Yourself
So many moms, myself included, carry boatloads of guilt from mistakes or shortcomings they’ve had or made during their motherhood journey. Especially for those of us surviving divorce. It can be hard letting go of regrets and past misgivings, but we have to move past our in order to be the joyful, present moms we’re striving to become. I was a single mom for years before getting married, and I have so many regrets over the time and energy I wasted on my dating life, instead of my son. I eventually gained peace after asking God, and my son, for forgiveness, deciding I wasn’t going to let my crummy past actions dictate one more second of my future. Our kids need us now. There’s more journey to walk them through. Don’t dwell on what you could have done better, and focus on the memories, habits, behaviors you want to create and enact, starting today.
Bad Habit #5: Prioritizing The Kids Over Your Marriage
Most of us are aware of God’s design for relational hierarchy: our relationship with God, then our spouse, then the kids, friends, acquaintances and so on. Putting our marriage first sounds easy, in theory, but there are so many instances where this placard causes major strife in family life. For example, if you give into your daughter’s request for new shoes, right after your husband asked for a spending freeze. Or spending all our time and energy on decorating the baby’s room, without giving a thought to date nights that haven’t occurred in four months. When the family dynamic is out of whack, our relationship with our kids is directly impacted. As we all know, when we’re fighting or at odds with our spouse, we’re more irritable, less patient and less focused on our kids. If you find yourself constantly battling your spouse over kid-related issues, pray for the clarity and strength to re-prioritize your number two relationship, in order to experience a better number three. Everyone wins.
Mothers are like mechanical engineers building cars without a manual. There will always be stressors and problems we don’t innately have the answers to. The least we can do is eliminate habits and behaviors that hinder and weigh us down, so we can live with more ease and joy. xo
For more inspiration, check out my post, “6 Ways to Become a Happier Mom.”