You won’t find the tips while reading best-selling books on discipline strategies. They won’t be found searching Pinterest for the best monster truck birthday cake. The secrets aren’t unveiled by researching creative recipes to sneak vegetables into your toddler’s 100% organic, homemade food either.
I’ve done all these things and more. Reading, researching and getting creative has surely helped me be a better mama. None of them left me feeling like a good mama though.
After I became pregnant with my second son, I learned my values and priorities as a parent would shift. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, those values and priorities would shift again. I really started discovering some of the “not-so-secret” tips to being a good mama when my husband died.
Running my toddler to his favorite play place, organizing activities weeks in advance, keeping the house free of dirt, and trying the newest paleo cookie recipe no longer topped my priority list to put me into the running for “Mom of the Year.” I started to fully see what my husband always knew. The “not-so-secret” tips to being a good PARENT are centered around simplicity, taking care of yourself, and most of all, love.
Three years of parenting and surviving my husband’s cancer diagnosis and death helped me discover The Top 3 Not-So-Secret Tips to Being a Good Mama.
Not-So-Secret Tip #1: Mommy-time
Mommy-time. Two words. Simple right? Taking time for yourself.
Mommy-time comes in several different forms and my budding preschooler knows this. I workout during baby brother’s nap-time while he watches monster trucks on the Kindle. I stopped feeling guilty about this when I realized he was learning more from me than I realized. He told me one day, “Every morning you exercise and it makes you a good mommy. It makes you feel good!”
He is right. Carving out 30 minutes a day for myself to exercise clears my mind and helps me feel stronger. In return, he sees me practicing a healthy habit while he gets some screen time to relax.
Mommy-time is having a nanny come once a week so I can attend appointments, run errands, and take care of some household chores without two little ones under my feet. It is dinner with my girlfriends once a month, without our kids. It is vital to take time for yourself daily, weekly, and monthly to have the patience and energy needed to parent.
Take a minute and think, what does your mommy-time look like? What recharges you? Finding those answers will help you rediscover yourself as a person and help you be the best mama you can be.
Not-So-Secret Tip #2: Vacation
Now when I say vacation, I not only mean a kid-free trip at least once a year, but I also mean regular breaks from your children. I recently took my first vacation in four years, our last vacation was our baby-moon. I was surprised how much it refreshed and recharged me!
There weren’t any midnight cries for help because the covers fell off my preschoolers bed or 5:30am wake-up calls from my baby across the hall. My coffee was hot every morning. The only decision about meals I had to make was what restaurant I wanted to try next. I showered, put on makeup, and didn’t wear yoga pants for five days! If that doesn’t make a mama feel like a woman again, I don’t know what possibly could.
A break from the demands of motherhood and decision-making is so healthy. I always miss my boys, but I notice a definite recharge in my battery when they have a sleepover. I tell my oldest it is good for mommy to have breaks, and good for him and his brother to have special time with his grandparents and cousins. I am a firm believer it builds trust and helps them learn to be adaptable.
Not-So-Secret Tip #3: Love
The number one not-so-secret tip to being a good mama is found in loving your children endlessly and surrounding them with others who love them as much as you. It is found by keeping your little ones safe. Children find security in knowing they are loved and feel safe with family and friends who share this love with them.
Playing with your children is one of the best ways we can show our love. Let them squirt you and get you soaked with their squirt guns! Pretend to eat the supper they made you from their play kitchen while using their tools as utensils. Be the Tickle Monster and hear them laugh!
At the end of the day, read them one more book. Snuggle them a little longer than you should and forget about the dirty dishes on the sink. The secret to being a good mama is all about enjoying your children, playing with them, laughing and loving. It is really very simple but so hard to do day-in and day-out when the demands of being an adult are pulling us in opposite directions.
Bonus Not-So-Secret Tip
Moms are their own worst critic. The little people you are raising ALREADY think you are the best mama! Even on our worst days, they love us unconditionally.
You are a good mama, mama.
Originally published on July 18, 2017.