I know, the headline of this post is a little much. Am I really going to give you the secret sauce to becoming the best mom ever? Am I even the best mom ever? Nope. But I’m working toward it every day and I want to share with you the ways that I believe we, as moms, can be the best possible versions of ourselves for our children.
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How to be the Best Mom Ever
I remember thinking about how freeing it was when I was pregnant to let go of the societal standards of beauty. For once, I focused on eating healthy for the sake of health, rather than weight loss to fit some mold enforced upon me by magazines. The funny thing is, as soon as we have kids, we then feel the need to fit a different societal standard – the best mom ever.
Often the best mom ever is portrayed as one who manages to keep her house immaculate (and beautifully designed), her kids clean and happy, and her spouse pleased. Of course, she also looks fantastic, wears makeup every day, doesn’t have stains on her clothes, and is ready for guests at any given moment.
Here’s the thing… that’s utter nonsense. It’s impossible. Accept it. Just like having the proportions of a Barbie doll is impossible, so is this hilarious standard for motherhood. While many of us realize how silly it is to model our lives after the moms we see on TV or Instagram, we often still find ourselves striving for it in our journey through motherhood.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can set our own standards.
My 10 goals for being the best mom ever
I can’t speak for you all when it comes to what it means to be the best mom ever, but I’m sure you will agree with at least some of these goals I have set for myself. Every day, I try to remind myself of these things. Sure, I will make mistakes along the way, and just when I’ve perfected my mom skills in one area, I’ll likely be lacking in another. It doesn’t matter. Our kids see us for who we are. If we are always striving to be the best mom ever, they will know it. They will feel it.
On to goal 1…
One of the greatest things you can do as a mom is to stop making more work for yourself. Taking this step will make the rest of the goals so much easier to attain. Take some time to simplify your life. For some, that may mean de-cluttering and getting rid of unnecessary items. For others, it may mean eliminating unnecessary tasks from your schedule. Whatever it may be, figure out what’s over-complicating your life and kick it to the curb.
I used to over think the household chores. I thought I needed to do a load of laundry every day. In reality, a couple of times a week works just fine and takes less time overall. I finally realized that mopping the floors every day was a silly expectation and just started using the Swiffer daily and mopping weekly. I simplified my days and life got easier. Now, whenever life gets overwhelming, I look for ways to simplify.
Make time for the things that matter
As you’re thinking about simplifying your life and what can be cut out or reduced, think about what you want more of. Is it more snuggle time with your little one in the morning? How about more one-on-one play time in the afternoon? Look for ways to make these things a priority. Find a way to move things around, or change the way you do things so that when it comes to doing the things that really matter, you can actually be present for them.
No more rushing through your trip to the park to get back to your housework. No more skipping out on that bedtime story so you can finish the dishes. Acknowledge that it is okay to make these precious moments a priority. For whatever reason, so many of us feel that if given the choice between the thing we want to do and the thing we should do, it’s wrong to choose the one we want! That’s just silly. Take 10 extra minutes to focus on the moments that really matter and let those dishes sit in the sink a little longer.
In a world full of Big Macs and antibiotic-filled foods, giving our kids the gift of health is a beautiful thing. From a very young age, show your kids what it means to truly be healthy. Don’t show them how to yo-yo diet and chug Diet Coke. Don’t teach them that the only way to be healthy is to starve yourself and do 100 hours of cardio a week. Show them that healthy food is real food. Make sure they get out and play so they get plenty of exercise naturally. Teach them that there are certain things you don’t want to put in your body either ever, or at least not too often.
Don’t panic. I’m not saying you need to cook elaborate dinners from scratch every night. I don’t do that, and I wouldn’t expect you to. With a toddler, the food choices are already limited, but I try to give him the best options I can. Instead of french fries, I buy him all-natural veggie tots. When we find something healthy and new to try, we introduce it to him (if he will take it!) It’s all about doing your best to show them that it’s important.
Take care of yourself
I don’t know about you, but that whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing didn’t really work on me. Sure, when I was a kid it did because I didn’t want to get in trouble! But as an adult, I find myself doing as my parents did, not as they said. This is why I am a firm believer in taking care of yourself the way that you want your kids to take care of themselves. This is something moms often struggle with, but we need to truly love ourselves.
Love your body enough to give it healthy fuel. Love your mind enough to give it downtime. And love yourself enough to make sure you feel good inside and out. When you do this, your kids will grow up knowing that it is important (and normal) to make yourself a priority. Believe it or not, it is far from selfish to tell your kids you can’t play right now because you need to take a break. It shows them that you value yourself and that they should do the same.
Manage your emotions
It’s funny how often we expect kids to control their emotions better than we control our own. We get angry and lash out or throw or hit something, but if our little ones do that, they get a time-out. All we are teaching them is that they can’t repeat this behavior until they are adults. How silly is that??
We should always try to model the behavior we want our kids to have. I know, it’s easier said than done, but it is by far the most effective teaching method. Your kids adore you. They want to be just like you. Seriously, how happy does it make them when they get your approval on something? So show them exactly the type of person you want them to be by being it yourself!
This is where taking care of yourself comes in even more. If you are healthy, this step will be so much easier. Insulin spikes from a poor diet can cause emotional rollercoasters and increase anxiety. Being overweight can lead to depression or mood changes. Being healthy can result in a more balanced mood, make it easier to control your mood in challenging situations, and provide you with an abundance of energy to keep up with your kids.
Do things that make you uncomfortable
As you go on your journey as a mother, you will likely encounter a few situations (or a million) where you have to choose between doing the awkward thing that your kid wants to do or finding a way to get out of it to protect yourself from discomfort. Here’s my advice: Do the awkward thing!
Go on that playdate with the mom you don’t know. Take your little one to the playgroup where you’ll have to sing silly songs with a bunch of random strangers. Try something new that you would never have thought of when your kid asks you to. Just go with it.
This is not something that comes naturally to me, but I made a decision from the very beginning that I didn’t want my son to live in fear and I would find a way to show him that through my own actions. While I still struggle (it took me months to try out a playgroup), I’ve come a long way. I continue to strive for this as new opportunities arise.
Stick to your guns
Consistency is key in parenting, at least when it comes to the things that matter. As the stay at home parent, I am extremely consistent on many things and have a really hard time with others. For example, I’ve got my son’s schedule down pat. But when it comes to discipline, I struggle to maintain consistency.
Since I work from home, I’m often just doing what I can to keep my little guy happy. Sometimes that means letting him get into shenanigans that won’t cause him any harm, but that I would prefer he not do (AKA taking out ALL of our DVDs and spreading them around the living room). Pick your battles and ensure that you are consistent with the things that are most important.
Let it go
On the flip side, while you are sticking to your guns about the most important things, let the other stuff go. Let go of the fact that your toddler won’t eat his veggies today. Try again tomorrow. Let go of the fact that you didn’t get around to vacuuming tonight. Your home will survive. Most importantly, let go of the tough days.
Recently, my son has been incredibly defiant with me. When my husband asks him to pick up his toys, he does it like a champ. When I ask him to, he either completely ignores me or runs in his room and closes the door before I can get in there. Ah, what a fun game at the end of my long day.
So, we’ve had some rough days lately. But I know this is a phase. I know it will pass so I do my best to let it go. If I carry the frustration with me from day-to-day, my son will feel it and it will only make things worse. kids often mirror your emotions, even when don’t know that you are showing them.
Admit your faults
How many of you heard the classic “because I said so!” phrase growing up? How frustrating was it?? All we wanted was a simple explanation as to why we couldn’t do something, or why we were being asked to do something we didn’t want to.
Of course, now as parents, we understand why our own parents said this phrase. I wouldn’t be surprised if it came out of my mouth one day too. What I am trying to avoid, more than anything, is the mentality that adults are exempt from the rules of childhood. While in some ways this is 100% true and acceptable (drinking, staying up late, etc.), there are times when I think it is important to show our kids that we are also responsible for our actions.
If you do something wrong or act inappropriately, admit it. Tell your kids you messed up. Show them you are human and, if appropriate, apologize. My parents always did this when I was growing up and, not only did it give me a great deal of respect for them, it taught me to do the same in my adult life.
Don’t shelter them from the truth
On one hand, none of us want to expose our children to the harsh realities of the real world. We want to shelter them from the violence and pain that exists out there. We don’t want them to have to worry about things like safety or the suffering going on in other parts of the world. But it’s important for them to begin to learn that life exists beyond them.
Find meaningful ways to share the world with them, both good and bad. Teach them that there are kids in other places who need their old toys more than they do and watch them beam with pride as they donate some of their most prized possessions in an effort to improve the lives of other children. When the opportunity arises to share an example of how others have behaved inappropriately, even if it is you, use that opportunity as a teaching moment.
Find the balance between overwhelming your kids with the harsh realities of life and preparing them for the fact that no one, no place, no-thing is perfect and that all that matters is the action they choose to or choose not to take.
Applying these steps
Essentially this post is my way of sharing my personal parenting goals with all of you. In no way have I mastered the items on this list, and I may never reach these goals to the extent I hope to. All I can do, and all you can do, is strive for the best. By focusing on the things that matter, taking care of ourselves, leading by example and being honest with our kids, we can truly be the best moms ever.
What’s your ultimate parenting goal? Let me know in the comments below!
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