If there’s one thing that’s extremely frustrating, it would be this: Accepting the fact that you can never be the perfect mother you wish you were. Not even if you tried. So how can you handle your flaws as a mom and still be the best imperfect version of yourself?
Have you ever felt like beating yourself up for being less than perfect as a mother? And with that feeling comes the inevitable question, “How to be a better mom?” When you were at a young age, you probably swore to yourself that you would do everything you could to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes that your mom (or other moms) have made in terms of parenting.
Now that you’re finally a mom, you find yourself struggling with the same mistakes you swore you wouldn’t feel guilty of.
So how do you handle that overwhelming feeling of disappointment that you’re nowhere near your idea of the “perfect” mom?
In this article, we’ll talk about 10 things you can do as you embrace your flawed self (and hopefully forgive yourself for not being perfect).
- Take the time for self-care
- Love yourself and all the flaws that come with who you are
- Mistakes happen, accept that your role as a mom is something you’ll play for life
- Don’t build your world around your children
- Be okay with saying sorry
- Accept whatever feedback your child may have
- Make sure that you regularly spend time with your children
- Don’t take everything personally, especially when your tween intentionally misbehaves
- Don’t bottle up your feelings, but don’t drown your child with your emotions, either
- Give your child the freedom to be their own type of person
And before we start going into the details, we just wanted to get this point across: There’s something good behind being imperfect. Know why? Because that means you’re constantly working towards progress.
You’re doing your best to be the best version of yourself, momma. And by learning to live with the fact that you’re not perfect, you also teach your kids that they don’t have to be perfect too for them to be worth your love.
And hey, that’s something worth congratulating yourself for.
Now let’s get down to business and talk about the 10 things you can do to become the best imperfect version of yourself.
#1: Take the time for self-care
More often than not, this is something that many moms, especially new moms, miss out on. They’re so busy taking care of their children and the rest of their family that they forget to take care of themselves.
Guilty? Don’t worry. You’re not the only one who’s guilty of this at one point or another. But if there’s one thing you have to realize, you need to take care of yourself first so you can care for other people better.
Now that you’ve finally realized what you’re missing, it’s time that you take self-care seriously. When was the last time that you did something for yourself? Or the last time you pampered yourself?
When you see that you are well-taken care of, you can live your life more fully and enjoy your role of being a better mom.
#2: Love yourself and all the flaws that come with who you are
Moms are, hands-down, amazing at loving their children unconditionally — flaws and all. So isn’t it ironic how we find it tough to love ourselves the same way? Why is it that we often find ourselves more critical of our flaws and constantly find opportunities to put ourselves down simply because we’re not “perfect”?
Training our minds and hearts to love ourselves for who we are taking a lot of patience. Thankfully, it’s not an impossible feat.
So the next time you hear that little voice in your head telling you off for falling short of your perfect standards, silence that inner critic. Instead, replace it with positive self-talk to boost your morale. Not sure how to do that?
Just talk to yourself the way you would to your child. Don’t be harsh and unforgiving. Because really, you deserve something infinitely better than all that criticism you’re getting from yourself.
#3: Don't build your world around your children
True, being a mom to your children is a major role that you’ll always play, but you still need to keep that thin line between your personal life and your life as a mom. And while your children are an essential part of your life, they shouldn’t be the only ones defining your existence.
Because eventually, your children will have to leave your nest. Building your world around them increases the chances of you encroaching on your children’s personal lives, causing unnecessary friction between you in the future.
So go ahead and live your life the way you want to. Have your own group of friends, pursue the things that interest you. Creating a life separate from your child will help you cope with the loss you’re bound to feel when the day comes for them to spread their wings and build their own families.
#4: Accept that your role as a mom is something you'll play for life
Once a mom, always a mom. And while you’re not the perfect mom, as there’s no such thing as such, you can play that role the best way you can. How? By always being there to support your child through thick and thin.
It doesn’t matter how old our children may be. As moms, we know that our role in their lives goes beyond the first 20 years of their lives. We’ll always be there to nurture, teach, care, love, and understand them.
So how do you stay present in the lives of your children?
Do they still feel that you’re still the same person they can run to on bad days? We hope your answer to that question is a YES.
#5: Be okay with saying sorry
It may not seem like it, but learning to apologize when we have to is also a skill that you need to learn as an imperfect mom. Because let’s admit it, we’re every bit as flawed as our children.
So if we expect our children to apologize to us when they do something hurtful, don’t you think it’s just right that they expect us to apologize when we do the same to them?
Of course, that doesn’t mean simply saying a halfhearted apology every time we lose our temper or forget to do something vital. We don’t want our kids to feel as though we’re taking them for granted by apologizing when we don’t sincerely feel sorry for whatever it is we’ve done.
When your children see that you are humble enough to acknowledge that you also make mistakes, they’ll have more reason to respect and love you.
Here’s a word of caution, though: Just because you should learn to say sorry doesn’t mean that you have to be the apologetic sort of person who feels like they need to say sorry simply for thinking a particular way. If you feel like you have to apologize for being who you are, that’s a different matter altogether.
#6: Accept whatever feedback your child may have
When our children don’t give us the feedback that we want to hear from them, it can sting more than just a little bit. But that is also part of playing the role of an imperfect mother. Your child is a unique individual with unique thoughts and beliefs, just as you do.
So when communicating with your child, make sure to keep your mind open. Just because you share a mother-child relationship doesn’t mean you have to see eye-to-eye on everything.
There’s no need to express frustration towards your child when they don’t say what you want to hear. All you have to do is give them the time and space to air their views.
By making an effort to respect them for their opinions and going the extra mile to listen to their thoughts, you give them added reason to listen to you too.
Plus, allowing your children to speak their minds is also a good way to help them gain the self-confidence they need to navigate their personal lives.
#7: Make sure that you regularly spend quality time with your children
If there’s one thing that moms have in common, it’s the fact that we’re almost always running out of time. There are just so many things that need to be done, and sometimes it can feel like we’re being pulled in all different directions. Especially if you’re juggling a career on top of being a mom.
But no matter how busy you may get, we hope you don’t forget that your children deserve the first spot on your priority list.
Ask yourself: When was the last time I sat down with my children and took the time to get to know them better? When was the last time I really listened to their thoughts (without spacing out halfway through) and just allowed them to express themselves freely?
Remember, the time you spend with your children is something no one else can do for you. Your boss at work can find someone to replace you in your job role, but you can never find someone to stand in and play “mother” to your kids on your behalf.
So if you feel that you’re not giving your children enough attention, it’s time for you to seriously start considering what changes you can make to your current schedule so you can make time for them too.
#8: Don't take everything personally, especially when your tween intentionally misbehaves
One of the most painful moments that we have to live through as parents are dealing with what they call “growing pains.” If you think dealing with a toddler in their “terrible twos” is already enough to give you a headache, wait for when you’d have to deal with teenagers.
At this point, your children are bound to do and say things that will hurt you. Ever heard of kids who attempt to run away or do everything they can to pick a fight with their parents? You probably remember those days when you’ve given your parents a headache too. But that’s simply part of growing up.
So when your kids start flexing their “independence” and become pros at talking back, resist the urge to label their attempts as proof that they don’t love you anymore. They do. They just can’t wait to be independent.
And while a toddler’s tantrums are infinitely more bearable than your teenager talking back at you or breaking all the rules you’ve set, keep in mind that this phase too shall pass. Rather than focus on their actions, try to discern the thoughts and emotions behind what they do and don’t take things personally.
Put your phone down more, or at least for a set amount of time each day. While everyone fights over the “right” amount of screen time kids should be allowed, most parents aren’t considering how much time they spend on their own devices and the fact that their kids certainly notice when their mom or dad is paying attention to their phone instead of them.
Carve out a realistic slot of time each day to put your phone down and make real connections with your kids.
In the end, it’s just about them trying to sort out their thoughts as they transition from being young age teens to young adults and not so much about you as a parent.
#9: Don't bottle up your feelings, but don't drown your child with your emotions, either
Just because you’re the grownup doesn’t mean you always have to put on a brave front for the sake of your children. Trying to hide all the negative emotions you’re feeling, like pain, for example, will only teach your children that showing their true emotions is a bad thing.
Caring for yourself is easier said than done. This is especially true if you have very young children and are the primary caregiver in your household.
So rather than trying to pretend that you’re okay 100% of the time, let your children know when you’re feeling less than okay. For example, if you’ve had an awful day at work, it’s okay to let your children know that you need some time to process your thoughts and emotions.
If you want to relax a little to be a better mom, practice regular self-care, spend quality time with your kids, and try to develop a sense of perspective. Make sure your own needs are met as well as your child’s
Or, you can tell them that you’re feeling upset about what happened so they won’t feel like you’re not in the mood because of something they’ve done. Kids, as you know, tend to make assumptions that they’re to be blamed for “making Mom sad”.
For instance, if you want them to eat healthy foods, eat healthy foods. If you don’t want them to pick up bad habits, like smoking, don’t smoke. If you don’t want them to be violent, be peaceful. If you wish to raise a trustworthy child, keep your word.
If you want to be a good mom, if you want to raise your children to be better people, to be independent and happy, to live a fulfilling life, it starts by working with you.
So, assure them that what you’re going through is not in any way connected to them. You don’t want to put your children over the edge just because our day didn’t go the way we wanted it to.
When you’re transparent with your feelings, they’ll also be more transparent with theirs, making it easier for you to help them out when they’re going through a rough patch themselves.
But here’s a point you’d do well to remember: Just because you want to be transparent with your emotions doesn’t mean that you should overwhelm your children with whatever burden you’re dealing with.
They don’t have to grow up too soon by having to go through whatever complex emotion or mess you need to sort yourself.
#10: Give your child the freedom to be their own type of person
As parents, it is perfectly understandable that we want to do everything in our power to ensure that our children get the best of what life has to offer. And because we’ve been in this world much longer than them, we may feel that they should listen to us every single time. “Mothers know best,” after all.
There’s just one problem with that mentality, though.
You see, that kind of mindset can easily strain your relationship with your children, who at this point are trying to navigate the world on their own and carve a life for themselves. Give your children positive feedback they’ll appreciate.
While you have your own hopes and dreams for your children, you need to keep in mind that they will ultimately have to live their own lives. And that they deserve to lead the lives they want. No child is perfect and part of growing up is making mistakes.
Letting your child make mistakes is a great way to teach them that actions have consequences and the event gives a great point of reference for future lessons. Spending time with your kids is just as important.
So when the time comes that they choose their path, try to be as supportive as you can. Continue loving them, even if the path they chose was different from what you had hoped they would.
Many parents boast about their children and are constantly holding them to the standards of others their age. Remember, your child is a unique person in his own right. Do not compare him to other kids. Children move and develop at their own pace and have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Remember: Our role as parents is not to dictate our children’s every move. It is to serve our children as guides while discovering who they are and what they want to be in life. We can help them choose the path we think would be the best for them. But we have to let them make a choice ultimately.
Embrace your journey as a mom
Just like any other journey in life, motherhood will have its ups and downs. But no matter how difficult the path may be, no matter the exhaustion, stress, heartache, annoyance, and sadness you’re bound to feel, always remember one thing:
You will hear plenty of parenting advice from so many different sources, just be sure you trust yourself to make the right decision when the time comes. If you’re having trouble managing your stress, never hesitate to seek professional help.
Take some time out, drink water, and spend some quiet time. Having a glass of cold water can help quell anxiety.
The act of drinking and the calm, clear nature of water helps many people relax during high-stress situations. Listen to music. Try scheduling time just for yourself to pull out a favorite book, tap on a favorite blend of essential oils, and kick back with a little peace and quiet to give your brain a break.
Have confidence in who you are and your parenting abilities. When a situation arises, try to give yourself a moment to process what is going on before reacting.
And it may not be perfect, just as you and your children are not perfect, but it is worth every sacrifice and every struggle you have to go through as a parent. As parents, we cannot afford not to work on ourselves because by working on ourselves we not only become happier people, we become better parents.
Good parenting happens in real-time, on the spot, and in the moment. The trick is recognizing those moments when your actions and reactions can help your child learn and grow in the best possible ways. Parenting is not easy so you need to give yourself time, don’t be afraid to take a step back.
Don’t compare yourself to others, either. Children learn by example. If you frequently compare yourself to other mothers and talk about your shortcomings, your kids will learn to compare themselves to others too. While a foundation of love is the best thing you can do for your child, you cannot rely on your feelings alone to guide you in parenting decisions.
When you work on yourself you start connecting with yourself, you start listening to your intuition more and this helps you to become a better parent – remain calm and patient, a better parent than guides their children in a loving way, that recognizes their child for who they are and doesn’t parent from a place of fear.
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