You Don’t Have To Be Perfect: Being A Better Mother
The very fact that you have chosen to read this article proves that you are a good mother. A parent who believes themselves to be the perfect parent is also the parent that believes they have no room for improvement or growth. They believe that how they are raising their kids is the best way, the only way, of raising a kid. But, if you question your abilities or if you feel like you are always coming up short, rest assured that you are not. You are a person willing to do some self-reflection, be vulnerable, and who is open to trying different parenting advice and reach out for help through methods such as online counseling when all else seems like failures.
And why is it that almost every mother has days, weeks, months, or even years when she feels like she is a failure? Where she feels as though everyone else has it together while she is hanging on for dear life. If you are feeling this way, please know you are in good company. World Breastfeeding Week every August is bringing more attention to this point-of-view. While perfection should never be your goal (it is impossible, you know), there are always ways to be improving yourself in the parenting department.
Why You Feel Like You’re Failing
In today’s social-media-infused world, it is a seemingly impossible task to not constantly be comparing ourselves to others. We scroll through our feeds and see other moms who are homeschooling their kids, doing crafty projects, taking fun vacations, cooking amazing food, coaching their kids’ soccer team, throwing the biggest birthday parties, taking care of all their pets, and maintaining immaculate houses, all while running a work-from-home business on Etsy (just to name a few).
It’s no wonder you feel like you don’t measure up.
Never before in history has so much personal information about our friends and acquaintances been available to us, and how can it not be overwhelming and discouraging? But you also must remember that never before in history have we had such a power to project such a carefully-crafted identity with a simple uploaded picture coupled with a few lines of choice text.
In other words, it’s not real.
Despite the way it appears, social media is simply a highlight reel of all the strengths those other mothers are posting on their feeds. Every single mom posting on their social media is picking the pictures the are putting up on the internet. No mom out there is posting the gross and dirty parts of their job, but rather the better looking, more glamorous parts of the mothering experience.
The most important thing to remember is that those strengths do not have to be yours.
You have your own strengths.
And they may not be what you would even consider assets in the world of parenting.
You have mothering skills that rock better than all the other mom on the block. Maybe you do not cook amazing meals, but you are fostering independence in your kids by teaching them how to make their own peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Maybe you do not do super-creative crafts, but you are much more relaxed about letting your kids create messes and explore their own creativity. Maybe you are not able to volunteer in your kid’s classroom because you are working full-time, but you help your kids with their homework each night.
You have areas where you’re succeeding, I promise.
Find them and focus on your strengths instead of your deficiencies.
Remembering that while you are looking at the highlight reel of someone else’s existence and judging it to be the best version of parenting, that same person may be looking at your social media and bemoaning the fact that they are not as wonderful as you is also important. We can be our own worst enemy and jump to conclusions about how we are viewed by the outside world. Perspectives can vary drastically from person to person. Not to mention, people are not usually even thinking about you long enough to judge you; they are too concerned about themselves!
Can I Become The Mother I Want To Be?
Even though you most definitely have strengths, there are always areas in your parenting that could use some improvement. Here is how you can tackle them.
Stop the comparison game
- If you want to make improvements, make them because you think it is necessary for your kids – not because you think you need to do the same things the other mom are doing.
Identify the heart of the issue that makes you unhappy
- Do you feel your kids need more structure? More follow-through with discipline? Improved nutrition? More encouraging words? Do not try tackling a million issues at once. Identify the root of your discontent with your parenting, and tackle that first.
- Now that you know the core issue identify a solution that will address that specific thing. All you need is google! Look up your issue or ask your other friends for some insight. While a chore chart and stickers may work for one kid, another may want to rip that chart off the wall. Crowdsource the answer, you cannot be expected to know how you will tackle each and every issue that arises in your family.
Ask for help
- Enlisting the help of other mothers can also help with feeling supported in implementing your plan, as you’ve gathered your trusted fellow mothers around you and now can lean on them when you need help.
Take care of yourself first
- Flight attendants tell you that you must put your oxygen mask on yourself first in case of emergency so that you can help those around you. Same applies in life. You can not take care of the kids in your life if you are neglecting yourself. Do your best to get adequate sleep, eat well, and exercise to the best of your ability.
Maintain social connections
- As was mentioned, friends can help you troubleshoot stuff that arises in your home. But friends can also help you relieve stress by being a listening ear, a source of laughter and by offering the ability of living in the other roles, you fulfill in life, not just that of “mom.”
Remember that your kids aren’t keeping score
- If you give them love, attention, and make them feel safe, chances are they already think you are awesome.
Don’t forget: check in with your kids often
- You might be setting an example that is harmful by attempting perfection. By modeling the desire of perfection, you can easily teach your kids the same, that they are not worthy people unless they take everything to the highest level. Show your kids that imperfection is OK.
Celebrate your successes and remember your strengths
- You will still have days that feel hard. But on those days, remember – you have got plenty of things where you are rocking.
Reach Out For Professional Help If Needed
Remember, a happy mom is a great mother. If you feel like you are failing and need some help with identifying the source of your discontent and crafting a solution, you can get convenient and confidential counseling at your fingertips through BetterHelp.
There, you will find thousands of therapists who will be able to help you work through what you are feeling and help you get to where you want to be in your life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a “better mother?”
If you’re wondering in what ways you can improve as a mother, the chances are that you’re dedicated to your role as a parent. Asking yourself, “How can I be a better mother?” or “What would make me a better mother?” shows that you care.
If you’re wondering how you can improve as a mother, here are some things you can do:
- Use positive self-talk. This sets an example and teaches children the importance of kindness and compassion toward themselves. Even when you think they aren’t watching, they are. A common example of this is body image – do not say negative things about yourself that you would not want a child saying about themselves.
- Teach autonomy. Provide age-appropriate choices in things like clothing, food, and activities.
- Ask your children questions and show interest in their lives.
- Set a positive example. Show others kindness, stand up for other people when needed, and don’t be afraid of admitting when you’re wrong. Practice humility and humanity, and set an example in your own actions of how to be good to others.
- Be there for the emotional needs of your child as well as their physical needs.
- Teach gratitude. This could be by saying “thank you,” writing thank you notes, or making a gratitude list. It’s proven that gratitude is beneficial to your overall mental and physical health, and it’s another way of showing kids to be kind to others.
- Spend quality time with kids, and take time for yourself as well. While finding time for self-care can be tough, finding a solution and taking care of yourself emotionally matters.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff! Look at the bigger picture and practice flexibility.
- Be consistent. Follow through with what you say you’re going to do, and if you can’t, provide an explanation and be upfront. This teaches stability and trust.
Again, perfection is a high stake, and striving for absolute perfection can have adverse consequences. Don’t beat yourself up; parenting is a tough job, and for the most part, it’s all about doing the best you can with what you have in the present moment.
What are the qualities of good mothers?
Those wondering “How can I be a great mother?” or “How can I be a good mother?” must remember that no one is perfect. Here are some potential qualities of a good mother, many of which you likely have:
- You embrace your children for who they are, meeting them with love and acceptance. In other words, you give them unconditional love and support them.
- You say “I’m sorry” when you need to. This sets a positive example for kids and can be helpful for them to hear. It could be that you lost your patience, as we all do, or it could be something else. Saying “I’m sorry” and redirecting your behavior shows kids that they can also apologize as well and that admitting that you’re wrong is okay.
- You teach kids about boundaries. Typically, this means having your own boundaries as well as teaching kids that they can have their own boundaries where appropriate.
- You teach children to be kind and courteous, acting as an example along the way. Additionally, should they bully or show a lack of kindness, you work to help them stop and understand why it’s not okay.
- You meet both their emotional and physical needs to the best of your ability.
Other positive qualities may include patience, dependability, and so on. Don’t compare yourself to other parents and families if you find yourself fixated on being an improved mother; every parent, every child, and every familial dynamic differs, so what makes a “better mother” will vary.
How do I act more calm?
- Replace frustration with curiosity. If you’re frustrated with a child’s actions, instead of getting angry or frustrated with them outwardly, try looking at what else could be going on.
- Look at the bigger picture. Being a parent is beyond a full-time job. Like any full-time job, it is overwhelming, and you can’t necessarily feel your best at all times. No human being can.
- Give yourself a break. Sometimes, if you can, taking a breather before you address a situation or act on angry feelings makes a world of difference. Whether that means being quiet and turning away for a second or getting another adult to watch the kids for a few minutes, that break can be very helpful in addressing situations more calmly.
- If applicable, get introspective. Maybe, you are upset in a way that feels disproportionate to the situation. If that’s the case, you might ask yourself, “what about this is upsetting me so much?”
Have an outlet. If you continuously struggle with feeling calm, it’s likely that something else is going on under the surface. It’s common for parents to lack time for themselves or not have a place where they can talk about their own feelings and needs. Therapy is a wonderful outlet and overall form of help for parents who feel overwhelmed, who don’t feel like they have space in their daily lives for addressing their feelings, who need to work through a problem or challenge they’re having, who are struggling with feeling like they need to learn about being a great mother, or something else.