This is a guest post from Sarah Koontz of Grounded & Surrounded
Even before I had my first child, I was determined to be a good mom. I devoured every parenting book I could get my hands on and purchased far too many “must-have” gadgets. If I was going to attempt this mom thing, I was going to do it right! I sought advice from everyone I knew, constantly searching for the magic formula that would help me to succeed at mothering.
I have met women who home-school their young children, graciously endure lengthy deployments or sacrifice their own ambitions to care for a special needs child. There are others who have faithfully supported their husband through times of unemployment, lovingly opened up their homes to foster care children or managed to raise good kids without the help of a spouse.
We’re all amazing moms in our own right. So hey amazing mom: give yourself a break! If you want to be an amazing mom, chances are, you’re probably already there. Find out a few other things that amazing moms (like you) do with this cheat sheet.
As women, we often compare ourselves with one another. I have discovered that there are two ways to do this. The first is to compare the strengths we see in others to the weaknesses we feel within ourselves. This type of comparison always leaves us feeling inadequate, incapable and insecure. The second is to focus on the failures and shortcomings we see in others to boost our own self-esteem. This will make us feel better for a while, but those feelings fade quickly.
Rather than falling victim to the comparison trap, it is far better to learn from and encourage one another. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to one another and start focusing our energy on our children. We are all on our own unique journey towards becoming the best moms we can.
Here are 5 habits I have learned from the amazing moms in my life. Each of these habits has brought me one step closer to the kind of mother I aspire to be.
Amazing moms invest time and energy into understanding their kids
For kids, perception is reality. If they perceive that Mommy is always busy or distracted, then it then becomes fact in their minds. As a child, I perceived that my mom spent more time working than she did playing with me; therefore, my child-like conclusion was that she loved her work more than she loved me.
As an adult, I can look back and see how flawed my thinking was. But that doesn’t change the fact that I spent a portion of my childhood feeling unloved and unimportant.
As moms, it is critical for us to invest time and energy into understanding our children. Consistently seeking to put ourselves in their shoes and trying to understand their perspective is the first step towards a happy, healthy relationship with our children.
Amazing moms teach their children how to express their feelings.
Kids will only see things from their perspectives if we don’t take the time to share our perspectives with them. It is essential that we patiently explain to our children why Mommy can’t spend the whole day playing with them. Open dialog helps our children to understand why we do what we do. It also builds a foundation of trust and honesty in the relationship.
Openness is a two-way street. It is critical we take the time to ask our children thoughtful questions. Listen carefully to their answers and develop follow-up questions. Many times children do not even know how to define what they are feeling with words. It is our job as parents to teach them how to express their feelings in a positive way.
Once they have opened up to you, reinforce this positive behavior by taking action on what they have said. It will show them that you are a safe place for them and that you truly care about their thoughts and feelings.
Amazing moms are proactive rather than reactive.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Understanding that your children have needs that only you can meet and focusing your energy on preventing problems before they occur is the key to successful parenting.
Set aside time each day to prepare a schedule, dividing your time wisely between your household responsibilities and your family. Allow your children to participate by choosing a few fun activities they would like to do with you each day. Be creative and take breaks regularly through the day to engage in these pre-planned activities with your children. Fill their heads and hearts with memories of Mommy focusing 100% of her energy on them.
Being prepared is choosing to be proactive rather than reactive in our relationships with our children. This choice will not only strengthen those relationships, but it will also serve as a daily reminder to our children of their value and significance.
Amazing moms accept their own limitations
As moms, we are constantly being tempted to stretch ourselves too thin. When Mom is stressed and overworked, the whole family suffers. It is important that we recognize our own limitations and seek help when necessary.
Choosing to be humble in our role as a mother is choosing to accept our imperfections. Learning to say “I’m sorry” to our children when we mess up shows them that nobody is perfect… not even Mommy!
Don’t overlook the fact that we all need a bit of help from time to time. I find that I can get more housework done in a few hours of focused time (with NO kids to distract me) than a whole day of juggling my responsibilities. Find someone to kid swap with or let your husband take the kids out for a “daddy-date” every once in a while so you can get caught up on your t0-do list.
Amazing moms love their children in word and in deed.
Kids need to know they are loved. Words aren’t enough. We must also show them love through our actions. Learning the love languages of your children is so beneficial. Discovering whether it is touch, words, quality time, gifts or acts of service that truly communicates love to your child takes time and persistence. Loving our children in the way they receive love is the most valuable gift we will ever give them.
I find if I give my girls a dose of love right away in the morning, or right after they get home from school, things go much better for all of us. It seems like 10-20 minutes of focused attention first thing fills them up and frees them to go play contentedly awhile without Mommy’s undivided attention.
I have recently sold many of my how-to manuals on parenting and realized that all the gadgets in the world won’t make this job easy. I have finally accepted the fact that I will never be a perfect mom. I have learned that it is okay to admire and respect other women for their beauty and strength but there is no good thing that comes from trying to compare myself with them. I believe that the only way to find freedom from the comparison trap is to redirect our energy towards learning from and encouraging one another.
Sarah Koontz is a stay-at-home wife & mother of 2 beautiful little girls. She is passionate about writing, and loves encouraging other moms to “ENJOY the HERE and NOW” through her #ETHANproject Challenges. She has a blog with her best friend Sammi at Grounded & Surrounded where they write about all things Healthy! Heart, Home, & Habits. You can find Sarah on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.