Tuesday, February 28, 2012

T.T- 11 Ways to be a Good Mom.

(The number 10 was just not enough!) :)

For the past 2.5 years of my life, my days have been full of this...

And this...

But they've been full of this as well...

I have a lot of joy in my life.  I have an amazing husband who works hard at his job, then comes home to help me with our home and children.  I don't know what I would do without him.  I also have 2 sweet, beautiful girls that fill my day with smiles and tears of joy.  
But... as a stay at home Mom of a 2 year old and 5 month old, I tend to find myself falling apart if I don't do a few things in my daily life.  I've found that if I don't pay attention to certain parts of my life, the concept of "me" disappears.  The things I like, the things that make me, me...are gone.  This, in turn, makes me into a not so great mom and wife. 

So.. todays Tutorial is a little list of things that 
I've found make me a better Mom. 
(Especially if you're a stay at home mom!) 

1. Stillness:  
I am a Christian and believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior.  It's ok if you don't share the same beliefs.  It really helps me to know that I can have hope in something much bigger than me.  I fail.  A lot.  And to have hope that there is something that never fails, and will carry my burdens for me...is pretty awesome.  So I take time every morning to have a cup of coffee and sit in the stillness with God.  Sometimes I pray, sometimes I just sit.  He knows my heart, and where I'm at.  If I feel overwhelmed, I try to sing a song of praise.  Again, it's ok if you don't share the same beliefs. But I think it's a good thing to spend time unloading problems, frustrations, and issues somewhere other than your own back... in a healthy way that is.  Journaling, using art, or music, meditation, or even driving out to the middle of the country and screaming... whatever it takes, just make sure you're not carrying it all on your own.

2. Show your children what it means to love.  
I am married.  It's ok if you're not.  It's ok if your single.  You can still do this one no matter what your situation is.  So, as a Christian, I love to be real with people.  I find that it forms a fun bond in showing that I, in fact, do not think I am perfect.  We had Eleanor before we were married.  Yes, two Christian people had a baby before marriage.  Whoop-di-doo!  See?  I'm not perfect!
The thing about is that we didn't have a lot of alone time before we had a baby.  A year, to be exact.  We celebrated our first anniversary together when I was 6 months pregnant.  Because of this, we have had to fight really hard to keep our relationship at a marriage level, rather than just being two people working hard to make money and raise kids.  Know what I mean?  So, Matt still writes love notes to me on the chalk board before he goes to work.  I put notes in the lunches that I make for him.  We go out on dates alone when we can. If we can't, we make time for each other at night.  I look at him when he talks to me.  We hold hands when we are driving or walking in the mall.  And we sure as heck remember to kiss each other good night and goodbye, and... you know, other times too.  We do this all in front of our kids.
Remember you were a couple before you were parents.  Give your kids the gift of loving parents who genuinely care for each other.
If you're not married or in a relationship, give your child the gift of being kind to their other parent.  My parents divorced when I was pretty little, and I can say that there was nothing worse than when they would talk bad about the other parent in front of or to us.  They didn't do it often, but when they did, it really stunk!  Kids don't understand adult relationships.  If you want to talk to someone about your issues with your ex, talk to a friend... not your kid.
When kids are little, they think of their parents as super hero's. Keep it that way!

3. Take time for myself.   
This is one that I've always had a really hard time with.  Even before I had kids.  I'm really bad at not putting my own needs on the back burner.  In our society, it's frowned upon to be selfish, right?  But... in my opinion if a person doesn't take care of themselves, how can they take care of other people?  This is definitely something that has shown through as a Mom.  I have been trying really hard to find time to myself every day.  Whether that be 10 minutes, or a few hours.  I love taking hot baths, going to the coffee shop alone, or running to Target.  Be sure to keep your needs in mind.  If you've been with screaming kids all day, go sit somewhere quiet where you can just unwind.

4. Do what you care about.  
Remember before you had kids, and you had time to do the things you really loved?
 Yeah, do those things!   I am an artist, always have been.  I haven't painted in months, and my brother brought some ideas to me of paintings he'd like for his new office.  I was thrilled at the idea of having an excuse to paint again.  My husband pointed out that it was pathetic that I needed an excuse to do something that I care so much about.  So, in our new home that we will have the keys to in 2 weeks, we are making sure I have a kid-free area where I can paint my heart out.  I will make it a priority to spend time in that space.  Until then, smaller craft and decorating projects will keep me happy.  If you like rock climbing, go do it!  If you like singing, go to an open mic night!  Do what you care about!  Your kids will respect you for it, and probably love seeing the outcome!

5. Get out of the house.
It's so easy to feel isolated when you're a stay at home parent.  It's easy to let nap schedules, eating schedules, and feeling plain exhausted keep you from leaving the house.  But, it has to be done.  Whether it be for groceries or to do something fun for yourself or the kids... get out!  Leave the house somehow!  We had been without a car for a few months, and I found that even if I walked around the block with my kids, I felt so much better.  We like to plan our weeks out so that we have one day at home to relax, 1 day for groceries and errands, and the other 3 for play dates and/or trips to the YMCA, library or book store, or an indoor gym.  The weekends are always full of fun activities full of our extended family, friends, and family bonding time.  My kids are a lot happier if we get out as well.

6.  Have friends other than other parents.
This may sound mean, but I'm sure you can all relate... having other parent friends and play dates are not the same as having normal friends and social time.  I mean, trying to have a conversation while changing diapers, disciplining, feeding, and playing with kids is just not the same as going out for dinner or coffee with someone one-on-one.  Right?  So make sure you get out with your friends and talk about something other than your kids.  Again, you were a person  before you were married.
(Disclaimer; you can also go out with your friends who are parents... they are people too.) :) 

7. Consistency is key!
This is something we talked about in my moms group at church.  Our kids need consistency.  And, I don't know about you, but I am the type of person that likes to know what to expect.  I'm a planner, always have been.  My mom always let us know what was up next, and I applaud her for that.  I want to do the same for my kids.  I want them to have traditions, and security in our family.  I want them to be 8, 10, 24 and know that on Valentines day... we will eat heart shaped pancakes and bacon for dinner.  I want them to know Christmas Eve is spent at my Moms, Christmas morning is with our family, and Christmas day is spent with Matt's family.
My husband and I have been trying to sit down every Sunday night to do our calendar together as well.  We have a lot of things that happen weekly; ballet class, our Thursday night shows (30 Rock, Parks and Rec, The Office & Up All Night.) and Matt's master's classes, ECFE class, and church.  We also try to do one dinner a week with Matt's family that lives close to us.  We are going to try to get together with my side of the family at least once a month as well.  Give your kids consistency through these things, as well as a routine.  My kids wake up, eat, nap, and go to bed at the same time every day.  We are adaptive animals.  If we are taught what to do, when to do it, it will become a routine.  And again, your kids will like that security.

8. Don't be hard on yourself.
We as parents work so hard to be perfect.  We only want what is best for our family. We know the the things that we don't ever want to do as parents, and sometimes, as humans...we do them.  For instance, I have always had a somewhat bad temper.  Being that I'm almost 27 years old, even before I had kids, I've worked hard to keep that under control.  But, having a very, very strong willed 2.5 year old, it tends to creep out every now and then.  I hate raising my voice, but sometimes I yell.  I get really down on myself when I do it.  I always apologize to my daughter, but then I feel like I have totally failed her.  Being a parent is by far the hardest job a person can have.  I don't care who you are- the CEO of the biggest company, whatever.. being a parent is harder.  You are constantly responsible for someone's life, and frankly, who they become later in life depends greatly on how you've raised them.  That's a lot of pressure that never ends.  It never goes away.  
Know this.  If you do your best every day, that is great.  If you didn't do your best and slipped up on a mistake... that's ok!  You're not perfect, but the fact that you care so much makes you an awesome parent!  There is always, always tomorrow! 

9. Be honest, apologize, and forgive.
This one is pretty jam packed, but it is SO important. 
It's never to early to start teaching your kids how to be honest.  I know it might sound weird, but I love it if my husband tells me if a shirt makes me look frumpy.  I'd rather him feel comfortable enough to tell me, than to know he is too scared of my response to be honest with me.  I want my kids to grow up in an environment where they feel they can be honest with me.  They can tell me that they think I am not treating them fairly, which won't always end up in something changing (Because, well, life isn't always fair) but I want them to feel comfortable telling me that.  If I do something that hurts them, or embarrasses them, or makes them really proud; I want them feel like they can tell me.  
Respect goes both ways, no matter age.  If you respect your kids, they will respect you.
Which leads me to the second part of this point... apologize.  If you make a mistake, apologize.  What better way to show kids how to apologize than to model it to them or in front of them.  If you've accidentally scolded them for something they didn't do, apologize and correct your mistake.  
Lastly, forgive.  One thing my Aunt Jeni taught me as a parent is to make sure our kids know how to forgive one another.  She has a daughter that is a year older than Eleanor.  Eleanor adores her.  Sometimes too much.  Last night at ballet, Ellie was upset because Ava was paying attention to the teacher instead of her.  So, she pinched her arm to get her attention.  Ava was pretty broken up about it since  Ellie pinches really hard.  (I know from experience)  Ellie felt awful and apologized.  Jeni made her daughter, Ava, forgive her out loud as well.  Forgiving is just as important as apologizing.  It's another great one that we can model in front of or to our children every day as well. 

10. Losers are winners.
Calling all Parenthood lovers!
Remember the episode where Julia and Joel are dealing with Sydney being a sore loser?  Where they lock her in her room after letting her lose to a game of Chutes and Ladders?  If you haven't seen it... watch this:

Yes, lets avoid that.  Teach your kid the cliche concept: it's not about winning, it's about having fun.  If you're a sore loser, be an adult and learn to deal with it!  Teach your kids that the whole point is to spend quality time with other people doing something fun, rather than being the winner.  Best part is, they'll most likely not feel the need to cheat in life because of this... and I'm not just talking about at board games.

11. Be positive- 
I gotta admit, it's really easy to get crabby and negative when being a stay at home mom.  Its easy to blame your husband for not being home to help out.  It's easy to hate the terrible twos and wish that you could fast forward through them.  It's easy to be an unpleasant person when you're sleep deprived and physically exhausted.
Yep.  It's hard.  But fight this one with all of your  might.  Be positive.  CHOOSE to see the positive in your day.  When your kids are getting along, or your dinner turns out tasty, be thankful and remember that.  Just as the glass is half full, be happy that your night is at least half full of sleep. :)  Remember that people, including your kids, would rather be with a person with a positive outlook on life rather than a negative attitude.  It'll make your life easier too.  You'll get use to looking at things this way, and find that things get easier and more fun!

Do you have any things you do that you feel make you a better parent?  
Share the wealth in the comment box! 

Happy Tuesday 
and drive carefully to my readers who are dealing with the snow and freezing rain! 

Linkinfive days five ways  feature friday free for allg to:


  1. This is a great post! Thanks for your great tips. As a new Mommy, and working Mommy, I am having a hard time taking time for me these days. I can't wait to watch Parenthood tonight!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing and linking up at Consider the Lilies! I'm enjoying your blog and look forward to reading more! :)