Published by The Huffington Post on February 15, 2016
“You are the worst mom ever!” How many times a day do you hear this? It stinks to be constantly criticized for everything you do, especially when you are being diligent and conscientious. You do not get praise for setting appropriate limits. You do not get cheers for introducing new foods — especially if they are anything colorful. You will not get a “thank you” for doing all the laundry, but you will most definitely hear about it if you haven’t gotten to the seventh load of the day, which happens to have someone’s favorite shirt.
You have a very difficult job. You are responsible for raising a human being. This involves teaching them right from wrong, how to be a contributing member of society and how to make good decisions for themselves. All of this while trying to navigate their unique personality and making sure you don’t crush their dreams in the process. That is a lot to manage on a day-to-day basis.
You can do this! It takes a lot of work for you to create the ideal environment for your children to flourish. While you may not enjoy the daily struggle, keep in mind that it is their job to question you, defy you and challenge you every step of the way. This is how they grow. Your job is to guide them, support them and love them no matter what they throw your way. In time, they will have the perspective to realize what you did was out of love… or they may just complain about you to their therapist. Either way, here are some surefire ways to win “Worst” Mother of the Year.
1. Set limits. Whether we are talking about screen time, how many cookies they can eat in one sitting or what types of programs are appropriate, it is up to you to decide. They are always going to want more of everything. They will also remind you that Jimmy or Sally lives by different rules. That is OK. Each family has their standards about what they find acceptable, and you are teaching your kids what feels right for you. Do not give in to their persuasive tactics, including their pouty lips, big eyes or promises of good behavior for the rest of their lives.
2. Introduce new things. Stepping out of your comfort zone is super important for personal growth. Not only for the kids, but for us, too. Going on adventures, trying new foods and mixing up the routine at home may be met with whining and complaining, but occasionally you will introduce the kids to a great activity, a new favorite dish — or perhaps help them discover a new passion in their life. If nothing else, you will have great stories about your experiences to reminisce over when they’re older.
3. Give them responsibilities. This one is my personal favorite. Two weeks after I introduced a responsibility chart at home, the novelty had worn off and I was getting tired of reminding them of what they were supposed to do. I had to figure out a way to teach them the importance of contributing while not overwhelming them with chores. So aside from their personal responsibilities, which include emptying out their lunch bags, putting away their shoes and coats and laying out their homework, I have given each one (yes, even the 3-year-old) a task that benefits the household, and they take turns every week. They still don’t like it, but when you teach them how to prep for dinner, load a dishwasher, do laundry, sweep the floor and make their beds, you are giving them skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. The best part is that they are actually helping, which will free you up for other things on your to-do list.
4. Take care of yourself. You need to be at your best mentally, physically and spiritually to have the ability to handle all the chaos that comes your way as a parent. The better you feel, the more likely you are to let things roll off your back when there is a spill, sibling rivalry or back-talk. When you are tired, unfulfilled and feeling frazzled, it is difficult to deal with any challenge without it putting you over the edge. So no matter what your kids say, if you need some mommy time to read a magazine, get your nails done or even just poop in peace, you do it! They will begin to value your time and learn the importance of self-care.
5. Let them be bored. It is not your responsibility to entertain your child 24/7. If you have things to do and cannot play with them, tell them to find something to do. If you do not want them to just sit in front of the TV, play with their iPads or their video games, then let them use their imagination. Tell them to go to the backyard. Show them where the art supplies are and tell them to make something. Better yet, tell them to just sit there. Kids are naturally curious, and are incapable of sitting still and doing nothing. If you ignore their whining, they will come up with a distraction. As long as they are safe, give them some leeway with what they can do. If it’s messy, they can clean it up. If they start fighting (as mine inevitably do every time), let them work it out. This will teach them self-reliance, give them self-esteem and expand their minds.
Good luck on your journey, and the next time your child tells you you are the “worst mom ever,” pat yourself on the back. It just means you are doing an awesome job!
Check out the original article over at The Huffington Post: