Want to be a better mom? Well, it’s not all about striving to be better. More often, it’s just about taking care of yourself so that you have the energy to give your little ones the attention they need. Read on to learn more.
You just put your little one to bed and all you feel is guilt.
Guilt for not giving him enough attention today.
Guilt for snapping at him too often.
For feeling relieved about the end of the day.
It probably feels a little hopeless — every day is the same, you have too many responsibilities, and there aren’t any more hours in the day.
Well, there is hope!
But to start, you’ve got to do away with your desire for perfection.
You Don’t Need To Be Better, You Just Need To Be Good
The problem with aiming for “better” is that you can always be “better”.
Even if you’re a great mom by most people’s standards, you could still be “better”.
The truth is, seeking to be “better” will only make you more anxious and depressed about your parenting abilities.
So don’t seek to be better. Seek to be good.
Look — you don’t need to be a perfect mom. You don’t need to be a better mom than other moms. And you don’t need to prove anything to anyone.
You’re a mom because you have a child.
That’s not a title you need to earn.
Your only goal now is to be a good mom as consistently as you can. Love your child. Feed your child. Play with your child.
Then take a damn break.
You’re only human, after all — you’re not some robot who was designed to care for baby goblins and then self-destruct.
You need breaks. You need date nights. You need to do things without your child.
In fact, consistently being a good mom depends on those things.
If you feel refreshed and rejuvenated in the morning, being a good mom that day will be easier.
And if you don’t, it’ll be harder.
That doesn’t mean you’ll be a bad mom on days that you feel tired and exhausted, but being a good mom will certainly be more difficult.
So for the rest of this article, we’re not going to talk about how you can be some ambiguous version of a “better mom”… instead, we’re going to share some important self-care practices that will help you consistently be a good mom.
Because “good” is good enough.
1. Take Good Care of Yourself
We’ve all been in that season where we feel like there is no time for anything. And self-care? What even is that?
It’s okay if you’re in a tough season like that right now.
But fortunately, with some simple practices, you can push through to the other side.
First off, take care of your body.
Start getting those fruits and veggies in and cut back on the fast food, soda, and highly processed foods.
Get involved in some type of daily physical exercise.
Find diet and exercise routines that are easy to stick to — walking with a stroller, going to a gym (with child care), or waking up early for an at-home workout video.
A healthy diet and exercise can go a long way for us mamas!
It will boost your overall mood and confidence, and make you feel accomplished.
Get ready in the morning.
Picture this — You’re climbing into bed and you think “I’m gonna get up early tomorrow so I can do my hair and makeup and look cute.”
BEEP BEEP BEEP!
“Screw it, I’d rather sleep.”
I know I’m not the only one.
As hard as it feels to wake up an extra 30 minutes to an hour early, it’s worth it.
When I feel myself in a “rut” with wearing leggings, t-shirts, messy buns, and no makeup for a while, I give myself a little challenge.
Normally my challenge is “I’m going to get full-on ready (makeup, hair curled, cute outfit) every day for two weeks.”
Sometimes I’ll do it with a friend and we’ll send each other daily selfies for accountability.
And I always feel more confident even after the first day!
It might even make you want to get out of the house so you can show off your cute look.
Get enough rest.
I know, I want to stay up all night bingeing Grey’s too.
This is the only time you get to yourself without the kids, right?
I get it.
But remember that tomorrow starts tonight: if you don’t get enough rest, tomorrow is going to be more difficult than it needs to be.
Watching TV for hours on end might feel good right now, but it will leave you feeling groggy and cranky tomorrow when your child wakes you up early for breakfast.
Getting enough sleep is vital as a mom.
Aim for at least eight hours.
You might think, “I can function with just six hours.”
But again, the goal isn’t to be functional. It’s to be refreshed and rejuvenated to take on the day.
Drink a ton of water.
Did you know that oftentimes when you feel hungry (or hangry), your body is actually dehydrated?
A recent article states that 37% of people mistake hunger for thirst.
You should consume half your body weight in ounces of water a day.
For instance, If you weigh two hundred pounds, half of that is one hundred. So you should aim to drink one hundred ounces of water per day.
Being hydrated will improve your energy, brain function, and mood, help prevent headaches, aid weight loss, and improve your focus and overall happiness.
Those are all things you want on your side when taking care of a little one!
Make time for self-care.
Again, extra time doesn’t just show up. We have to make time for the important things.
Self-care is one of those things.
Find something in the self-care realm that makes you feel mentally and physically refreshed.
It could be taking a long bath by yourself with a glass of wine.
Maybe giving yourself a facial and taking a long shower.
Or possibly reading a good book and taking a nap.
“Self-care looks different depending on what I am craving. Sometimes, it’s quiet so just having Andy take the kids so I can have a pamper day at home (reading, nails, bath) is nice. But often, I like to get away and have a spa day. 😁”
– Kelsey Langenfield, Mother Of Two
This should be an activity that you do alone — one that makes you feel great when you’re done.
I would aim to do this once a week. Obviously, it will require someone to watch your child while you have your “me-time”, so plan ahead!
Talk with your spouse and let them know this is vital for you and it will make you a more positive and present mother and wife.
Maybe get a babysitter or friend to watch your kids for a few hours once a week.
Schedule it out and make it a priority!
Taking care of yourself will give you a “full cup”, which will help you fill your child’s cup.
2. Learn Self-Love
We all want our children to love themselves. But they aren’t going to learn what that looks like unless they have a good example of it around them.
Learning self-love will make you a more confident mom and woman while also teaching your child those same qualities.
One of the biggest things that get in the way of being a better mom is comparing ourselves to other moms.
“Diane gets outside with her kids more than I do.”
“Karen doesn’t give her kids screen time because she always has activities for them.”
“Shelly feeds her toddler so much healthier than I do.”
Comparisons don’t help anyone. You know your child’s needs.
Trust your instincts, stop making comparisons, and definitely stop assuming that other moms are better than you.
Allow yourself to make mistakes.
There are gonna be days where you feel like you “weren’t the best mom you could have been.” Like you should have tried harder or put more effort in.
Us moms are so darn hard on ourselves. That damn mom-guilt in the back of our minds is always trying to remind us that we did something wrong.
You aren’t perfect! So stop trying to be.
All you need to do is be the best mom you can be for your child… right now.
And being a mom means you’ll have days where you yell a lot or get irritated too quickly. Maybe you let your child get away with too much for a day.
But it comes with the territory — don’t beat yourself up.
Figure out what went wrong and work to fix it. Then try to do just a little bit better tomorrow.
Say “sayonara” to toxic people.
Do you have a mom-friend who constantly makes snide comments that make you feel less-than?
Maybe you’re friends with someone without children who struggles to understand why you put your children above them and why everything has to be planned ahead of time for you.
Or you might have a mom-friend who passes judgment or gives unwanted advice on every little thing you do.
Being a mom is difficult enough — no need to keep judgemental people as friends.
It might sound odd, but you’ll notice your confidence has boosted after a few weeks of this.
Start every morning by either writing in a journal or looking at yourself in the mirror while saying/writing self-affirmations.
It could be anything!
“I am beautiful.”
“I am smart.”
“I am an awesome mom.”
“I am accomplished.”
Aim for around ten!
This will make you start your day on a positive note and start to change your mindset on who you are.
3. Find Yourself Outside of Motherhood
It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday life of motherhood. Life as a mama is time-consuming and distracting.
But it’s vital to find who you are outside of motherhood.
Our children are going to grow up and they’ll need us less and less every year.
Once they are full-grown adults and leave the house, you’ll no longer have the same “purpose” of being a full-time mom.
You’ll need to find meaning elsewhere — and now is a great time to prepare.
Start with finding what some of your interests are. Exercising, crafting, a career, reading, or maybe party-hosting?
“As a single mom of now 18-year-old triplets, it took many years for me to prioritize self-care and truly understand that it actually wasn’t just for me. I had a much shorter fuse and was much more reactive with the kids when I didn’t take time out to refresh and rejuvenate. Initially, I tried to take some time once a year, clearly that was not enough. Then I started trying to get one day away every few months, again not enough. Now, I not only take a full weekend away every 1 to 2 months, during which time I truly focus on relaxing, meditating, doing some deeper inner work and healing, and really allowing myself to be in a creative headspace, I also now take time every single day to have a morning and evening routine. It helps me set up as well as end my day with reflection, quiet time, prayer, and meditation, as well as healthy exercise, starting my day with fresh celery juice, etc.
The other thing I did which initially seems counter-intuitive was to care less instead of more. I can actually love my kids better and from a more steady place when I’m not so deeply entrenched in their results. I teach them what I can and support and encourage them, but then it’s up to them to succeed or fail. And in fact, it’s so much better for them to experience failures and how to handle them while they are still at home with me, so they are much better equipped and not falling apart when they do fail – bc failure is a part of learning.
I also realized long ago that when they gave me a hard time it actually indicated they were having a hard time and needed extra love and compassion, not anger, frustration, or reactivity from me. It’s not always easy to do this but the more I practiced it the better I got and the more they even started to self-regulate and become more aware of their reactions and emotions and what really might be going on beneath the surface.
I also set boundaries and held them (definitely did not do this perfectly and sometimes chose instead to pick my battles), but recognized especially at ages 3 and 13 that they were actually exerting independence and testing boundaries to see how much I was paying attention. They actually want to have boundaries and know exactly what and where they are even if they aren’t able to verbalize it and push hard against them.
One of my biggest lessons in parenting and life is that when I focus on healing myself, everyone around me gets healthier too. And it’s not my job to fix or save or even heal anyone else – including my kids – but to lead by example, walk the talk, and truly model the way. As the parent, you really do set the tone.”
– Carla Taylor, Mom Of Triplets
Try some new things and see what sparks a little joy in your soul!
As we know in motherhood, extra time doesn’t randomly appear.
So schedule it!
Maybe it’s something you want to do daily. Possibly weekly or monthly.
Chat with your spouse or another loved one, or find a babysitter who is available so you can have this time for yourself.
Being available to your child is important.
But it is also important to have your own interests, friends, and hobbies that don’t involve your child.
4. Spend Quality Time With Your Child
Nothing makes me feel like an awesome mom more than some quality time with my toddler!
This won’t only fill up your child’s cup, it will fill yours up as well. You’ll feel even more connected to your child after a little one-on-one time.
Think of something that will involve both you and your little one having fun.
You could go all-out and make a plan with snacks, movies, and crafts. Or you can keep it chill and spend twenty minutes a day reading your child’s favorite books.
I love to have “dates” with my toddler.
We go to the store together and pick out our favorite snacks. Then we come home and find a Disney movie to watch while we cuddle with blankets and eat our snacks.
He gets so excited for our “Mommy-Elijah dates”.
5. Have Alone-Time
Now I know you might be thinking “what is alone-time?”
It can feel impossible to go to the bathroom by yourself, let alone take a few hours alone!
Again, scheduling it out is the key.
If you can make both daily and weekly alone-time work, do it!
I like to have my daily alone time when my toddler naps/has his own quiet time.
I’ll read, have a snack (without little hands trying to grab my food), or watch a grown-up show.
I get my weekly alone time (which is a bit longer) on Sundays. My husband has one-on-one time with our toddler while I do my own thing.
Most of the time I go into our bedroom, lock the door, read a book, and then nap for a few glorious hours.
Nothing makes me feel more refreshed than my alone-time!
If you can’t do both, make one of them work.
Try giving your child some down-time every day so you can have time for yourself.
If that isn’t possible, try taking a few hours on a weekend to chill with yourself.
6. Surround Yourself With Honest Mom-Friends
One of the biggest things that have helped me in the crazy life of motherhood is having another mom to relate to.
Talking about how my toddler had a ton of tantrums in one day and I’m about to lose my mind.
Or how I’m overly stressed out about my toddler not wanting to nap anymore.
And the best thing in the world is to get a response of “Ugh, I feel you. My child is doing that too.”
Or, “I thought I was going to lose my mind last week, too!”
“Going for long walks in nature, working out, quiet time in the word of God, a kid-free date with a good friend, and time alone with my spouse! Those are just some of the things. But truly I find myself recharging my soul with the things I love to do for myself, prebaby. It reminds me I’m not just a mom.
More than anything I learned I can not be the best mother to my child if I don’t take care of myself first. It’s impossible! We need to stop devoting 110% to our children and neglecting ourselves and our marriages. You can’t pour from an empty cup!”
– Jordan Johnson, Mother Of One
Find a few friends who have children around the same age as yours, who will be honest about their day-to-day lives (not those moms who act like everything is always peaches and cream).
Be honest with them about how you’re currently feeling in motherhood.
Normally, the more transparent you are, the more your friends will open up to you as well.
7. Give Yourself Grace
None of us moms are perfect. We all mess up every day.
You might have snapped at your children too much today. Or give them too many sweets.
We all have those days!
Start by apologizing to your child. No matter how old they are.
(Starting this habit while they’re young will teach them grace and forgiveness)
It will also help them learn that it is okay that they are not perfect. And that mommy’s and daddy’s aren’t either.
Know that you’re doing your best every day and just by showing up for them and loving them, you’re doing a great job.
To Become a Better Mom, Take Care of Yourself First
I’ve always found it interesting that on airplanes, during the safety presentation, they tell you, if the oxygen masks drop, always put on your own before assisting other people with theirs.
Why is that?
It’s because if you are deprived of oxygen, then you’re not going to be able to help yourself or others with getting on their masks.
It might feel counterintuitive. But you’ve got to take care of yourself first.
As an airplane passenger and as a mom.
The way to become the best mom that you can be… is to become the best person that you can be. Focus on improving yourself and being a good mom will naturally follow.
Maggie is a fitness coach, freelance writer, and stay-at-home mom who loves healthy living. She has a passion for reading fantasy and spending time with her husband and son. You can follow her on Instagram.