When I became a new mom about three years ago a more seasoned mommy friend of mine took me to lunch one day and said “you are NOT gonna get an A in every category.” I nodded at her as she spoke while letting her words go in one ear and out the next, thinking that I had what it took to get that “A.” Now it’s three years later I can honestly tell you that her advice that day was one of the smartest things anyone has ever said to me.
For the first two years of my children’s lives I did try to get that “A.” Eventually, though, I ran out of gas and started to fail in nearly every area of my life. I started missing important dates like my friend’s bridal shower, I neglected my health and even got behind with my bills because I didn’t have time to pay them. The worst part is I got so involved with doing stuff for my family like planning birthday parties and trips that sometimes I didn’t have the time, energy or patience for my kids.
I realized then I didn’t need to get an A in every category. I just needed to get an “A” in the areas that mattered most.
Most of us who are mothers are the primary caretakers of our kids whether we are married or single. We are also responsible for running a household and being a good wives/partners while working full-time jobs. So we have our hands full and being supermom just isn’t possible.
So our goal should not be being great at everything. Our goal should be to put our time and energy into those areas that will make the biggest difference in the lives of our children, like their health & wellness, education and building of their self-esteem. Knowing where (and where not) to put our energy and focus as mothers will help to be more powerful and productive parents in the end. It will also help us to maintain our joy, our peace and our energy level.
Here are five steps to good (and powerful) parenting:
Cut Corners: Knowing where to cut corners is one of the great secrets of good parenting. So go ahead and leave dishes in the sink tonight if it means having more time and energy to play an active role in your child’s education by helping them with homework or reading through letters from your child’s school. Go ahead and leave the dirty laundry for the weekend if doing so will give you more time to hold your kids tonight and tell them how much you love them because that’s what truly matters in the end.
Let Go of The Guilt: Guilt is crippling and consuming so let go of feelings of guilt when you make a mistake as a parent. Acknowledge the shortcoming, and move on quickly so you can make better decisions going forward. A few weeks back, I dropped my kids off to school late. Initially, I didn’t think we were very late but when I saw them shuffle in looking for a seat I felt embarrassed that my kids (and I) were unprepared. I felt like the worst parent in the world. Then I pulled myself together and said to myself “yes, they were late to school and we’ll work to fix that but what’s most important is that they got to school today!”
Ask For Help: It does take a village to raise a child so ask for help when you need it. Ask for help from family members, neighbors, friends, your church, and yes even ask for help from your child’s father!
Talk To Other Moms: Because every mom in this world has either gone what you’re going through or is going through it currently. So talk to other moms and get advice and support and if nothing else get a few good laughs about some of those epic parenting fails, which is therapy in of itself.
Pray: About any family-related issues that may be plaguing you if you believe in the power of prayer. Ask also for guidance, wisdom and the ability to make good decisions for your family.
Notoya Green is an on-air parenting expert and mother of three-year-old triplets. A former law attorney, Notoya put her law career on hold to become a stay-at-home mom to care full-time for her children. She now shares her experiences at Triplets in Tribeca.