Today’s culture of social media has created unrealistic expectations around being a “perfect mom.” I am here today to tell you that you are a GREAT mom, just as you are! Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing what’s best for your mental health as you raise your children. I have had to unfollow many mommy influencers on Instagram, as their presence in my feed took a toll on my mental health. They made me feel like a “bad mom.” Although not their intention, seeing them present their lives through rose-colored glasses made me feel inadequate. Mommy Facebook groups have also set me up for failure, especially early in my parenting journey.
Let me give you an example. My husband and I were very interested in parenting our son with a Montessori approach. We think that many wonderful ideals come with that philosophy, and we choose to execute on some of them. We try and keep an open and realistic mind, though. I will not feel bad if tonight’s idea of Montessori is letting my child choose to eat fruit snacks for dinner. You simply have to choose your battles sometimes!
There are many misconceptions moms have running through their heads that tell them they’re a “bad mom.” Let’s be clear: if you’re worried you’re a bad mom, you’re NOT! Let’s dispel these common lies that get us so worried, shall we?
You are not a bad mom . . .
. . . if your child is a picky eater.
Some littles have very strong food preferences (mine included). I was a smug first-time mom who was confident that doing baby-led weaning would create a non-picky toddler. Jokes on me! My son is two, and his main food groups are Uncrustables, cheese sticks, yogurt, and donuts.
. . . when dinner is delivery, frozen meals, or cereal.
A family is hard to feed! It takes a significant amount of time to plan and execute meals for your family. Please do not ever feel bad for taking a break and ordering pizza for delivery. Or for microwaving chicken nuggets or serving a bowl of cereal.
. . . whether you work or you stay at home.
Can the comparison between being a working mom and a stay-at-home mom please just end? I have done both, and hands down, being a mom period—whether you are at home or out of the home working—is the hardest job I have ever had.
. . . if you have a strong-willed child.
Many parents think that if they parent their children a certain way, their children will act a certain way. Soon-to-be parents think this way until they have a strong-willed child of their own. They quickly learn that they experience pushback from their child on pretty much all of their parenting ideas. Let me just say you have done nothing wrong. This is who your child is and there is nothing wrong with having a strong-willed child. It will serve them well when they get older. So, continue to be consistent with your boundaries and always come from a place of love with your child. Eventually, they will grow and understand why you did everything you did. (Even if that’s when they’re adults and are having children of their own.)
. . . when you lose your cool.
Sometimes you simply have a bad day, but that doesn’t make you a bad mom. Maybe the kids are acting up, or your husband isn’t cooperating, or the dogs won’t stop barking. We are human beings too, and sometimes we just snap. This has happened to me before, and it’s probably the worst I’ve ever felt as a mom. It is important to teach your children that we all have emotions. Sometimes we have really big emotions, and we are sorry if we hurt anyone’s feelings. Your children will forgive you!
. . . if you hate certain parts of parenthood.
Some people love the newborn phase, while others love the toddler season and beyond. It’s okay not to love every part of parenthood. It’s hard to get up multiple times throughout the night, night after night, to calm your waking baby. It’s tough to handle toddler tantrums at home or in public. Potty training can be a pain. So can puberty. Don’t feel guilty or be hard on yourself for not liking a certain part of parenthood. It is normal to have those feelings. Remember that everything in life and every stage we go through is temporary. In time, things will evolve and get better.
. . . if your house is a mess.
By the time Friday afternoons roll around, our house looks like a tornado flew through it. Despite the best of intentions, it is hard to keep up. I promise your kids won’t remember how messy or clean your house was. They will remember how much fun they have with their parents or caregivers and how loved they are.
. . . if you feel touched out.
Between pets, kids, and significant others, it is very easy to feel touched out by the end of the day! It’s okay to need a break from being a jungle gym or cuddle buddy. Sometimes you just need a break. “Touched out” was never a concept I understood before becoming a mom, but I definitely feel it often now.
. . . if you need a break from your kids.
As we know, kids are exhausting. They are the loves of our lives, but we all need a break and some alone time to recharge. Wanting a break doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. It means that you’re human and you can only handle so much. Just like every employer gives their employees days off, parents are working hard too, but they don’t get designated time off. They have to plan it and create it for themselves. As mothers, we have to take care of ourselves to better care for our kids. So remember, it’s only normal to need or crave some “you time” away from your kids. Go meet up with some girlfriends, go on a date night with your partner, or go alone to Target and grab a Starbucks. You’ll feel better for doing it and will be able to give more of yourself to your kids.
. . . you take medication for your mental health.
Society has created a stigma around mental health medication. Antidepressants have saved my life. I like to be very open about my journey to help lessen the stigma and make others feel like they are not alone. I am a better mom, wife, daughter, and sister when I am appropriately medicated. It has saved my life, and you should never feel like a bad mom for taking medication that helps you be the best version of yourself.
. . . if you don’t want to play all the time.
Independent play is one of the best skills your child can learn! Letting them have freedom and creativity within their surroundings allows their imaginations to run wild, which is the best thing for their development at any given time! It’s also okay if you feel tired and let them watch movies and eat snacks all day. To your child, that sounds like the best day ever!
. . . if you’re a single mom.
Single moms are absolute superheroes in my mind. You should never feel like anything less than that every single day. Your days are harder, longer, and more challenging than moms with partners at home. You have to be everything for your kids, and you are more than enough!
Don’t forget that you are doing your best and you are a good mom. Your kids are happy, healthy, fed (even if they just ate fruit snacks for dinner). Most importantly, they are loved. Moms are imperfect beings, but you are the perfect mom for your little one. When your son or daughter grows up, they will remember being loved and cared for. They won’t remember whether the house was a mess or if they only ate chicken nuggets for dinner for weeks on end. You are not a bad mom. Period.