Keeping up the facade of being the “perfect mom” who is able to juggle their children, career, homes and personal lives can be exhausting. Just ask Amy, the main character in the 2016 movie “Bad Moms,” who seems to have everything perfectly polished and in place. However, underneath this gleaming veneer, she feels like she’s ready to crack. The pressure of making daily meals, driving children to activities, overseeing homework, cheering on her children at games and feeling like she is eternally late to every commitment wears on her, as it does for many moms. Amy joins two of her friends who decide to begin what they dub a “bad mom” revolution, one where they allow themselves to drink, swear and cut some of their binding obligations. However, does taking time for yourself and not doing everything for your kids make you a “bad mom”? Let’s take a look at five parenting and self-care tips that will help you maintain your sense of self, as well as your sanity.
1. Don’t Drive Forgotten Items to School
After a hectic morning rushing to get breakfast served, lunches packed and the kids out the door, you notice that your child has forgotten their science project on the kitchen table. You’re tempted to bring it to the school so your child won’t lose points. Your deep-rooted fear is that your child’s failure is really your own failure as a parent. Get out of this mindset. Children need to fail. Your child will likely face consequences for turning in an assignment late, and that’s fine. Trying to shield your children from making any mistakes will eventually make them a neurotic mess as a young adult. When they’re on their own and find out that the world isn’t perfect, the smallest setbacks in college or adult life will feel like insurmountable failures. Learning how to deal with the setback in stride, and then learning from the mistake, is far more valuable than the few points the project grade will have deducted.
2. Stop Scheduling Every Minute of Your Kids’ Day
We all want our children to have every opportunity that we can afford for them, but when does it become too much? If your child is being shuttled from karate to ballet to piano to language lessons, where is their (and your) downtime? It’s ok to say “no” to activities that you feel will drain unscheduled time within your day. If your child can’t speak four languages by the time they’re 10, they’ll be just fine. But if they can’t play independently, have time to daydream and play make-believe, or roll in the grass, you can bet that they will have problems later in life.
3. Have a Drink or Two (or Three)
Some of the funnier scenes in “Bad Moms” involve Amy and her two cohorts having some drinks and laughs at a bar. While you might never catch the Queen Bee of the PTA slamming down shots at a corner establishment, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t cut loose every once in a while with your friends. It’s healthy to take off your “mom cape” for an evening and let loose. Note: This does not mean getting wasted and making a fool of yourself. It means seeing your friends (no kids allowed!), doing something fun, laughing, cursing and enjoying each other’s company without having to take care of anyone but yourself. By scheduling time for this on a regular basis, you’ll be a better parent. You’ll have a chance to blow off some steam and reconnect with who you are outside of the role of “mom.”
4. Don’t Be Your Child’s Friend
Naturally, you want to enjoy your children and their company. However, there will be times when you need to set boundaries, enforce rules and say “no” – much to your child’s displeasure. Avoid the temptation to be the “cool mom” who is terrified of hurting their child’s feelings or having them feel uncomfortable or upset. The ultimate goal is to raise children into adults who are kind, thoughtful, responsible, funny and intelligent – exactly the kind of grown-ups you’d love to hang out with!
5. Don’t Fight Your Child’s Battles
Your mama bear instinct kicks in when you see your child struggle with their peers or teachers because you are programmed to protect your cubs. There are some instances where you need to intervene to be your child’s voice, but if you do this all the time, your child will never find their voice. Model ways that they can overcome adversity with their friends, and how to speak to adults in a way that conveys what they are feeling in a calm and appropriate manner. Do not be the parent who confronts little Jenny on the playground and says, “So I heard you called my son a boogerface.” Show your little boogerface how to negotiate his own battles and he’ll be better equipped to deal with these situations throughout his life.
Most importantly, moms need to take comfort in the fact that none of us are experts; we’re all kind of making it up as we go along. There is no one “right” or “wrong” way of parenting, and we all need each other’s support – even if it’s to be a “bad mom.”
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