5 Habits Every Mom Should Break
As moms, we tend to put a lot on our plates. In fact, it's one of the reasons we often feel overwhelmed. Instead of trying to take one more bite of responsibility, here are five habits every mom should break.
1. Anything you do for your children that they could do for themselves.
Kids grow up – fast, sometimes faster than we realize. And before you know it, your child can dress himself, brush his own teeth and get his own snack. The job of a mother isn't to be a personal assistant; a mother's job is to teach a child to become independent. That means showing a child how to use a vacuum, then letting them vacuum the living room. It's not going to look perfect. It might even get messy. But that's when you show them how to clean up a spill.
2. Saying yes, when you really mean no.
Guilt, pressure and the fear of disappointing someone are common reasons why moms allow others to put extra helpings on their plates without saying, "No thanks, I'm full."
Before you say yes, ask yourself these questions:
• Am I saying yes because I would feel guilty if I said no?
• Is my gut reaction to this request "how can I get out of this?"
• Am I saying yes because I am known as the mom who always says yes?
• Am I saying yes because my friends have said yes?
• Will this event bring stress to my family life?
• When the event is done, will I be most glad that it's over?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should not say yes to the request of your time.
If you're not sure if you want to say yes or say no, don't feel panicked into a definite answer. Reply with, "Thanks for thinking of me. I'll have to check my calendar and get back to you by (give yourself a deadline)." If the person persists, then say, "If you need an answer right away, I'll have to pass so you can find someone else who is sure they are available." Live with the decision – yes or no – in your head for the day and make your choice based on how you really feel.
When you tell a person no, remember that you don't have to justify your answer. You're just obligated to give them a polite one. Remember, saying no also applies to your children. Saying no helps them understand that they can't have everything they want
3. Making excuses for your child.
"He didn't mean it. He just gets so excited sometimes."
This is the excuse I received when a boy at our weekly play group clobbered my son over the head with a Little Tikes golf club. The boy's mom then told her three year old, "play nice," and continued on with the conversation she was having with another mother.
I don't know if it's the embarrassment that their child is not perfect or sheer laziness, but many parents make excuses instead of making their child take ownership of the action. The good, the bad and the ugly: children need to take credit and consequences for their actions. This is how we become responsible adults.
4. Not asking for help.
For whatever reason, moms often think they can and should do it all themselves. The simple fact is — whether the mom stays at home or combines work and family — moms need help. In fact, we're better parents when we get it. You've heard the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child." Today's village expands beyond city borders. Whether it's family, friends or an online community, moms need a network where they can find everything from support to hand-me-downs to advice, as well as a safe place to vent!
5. Putting yourself last.
It's no coincidence we saved this habit for last. Last is what moms do best. Instead, we let everyone else go first. We do without. We take the broken one. Enough already!
Moms are often stereotyped as being frazzled and desperate. And sometimes we are. We live in a world where we often spend more time taxiing kids from one after-school activity to another than we do taking care of ourselves. It's important for moms to take some of the focus off of their children and put it back on themselves. You are a mother, but you're also a woman, wife and friend. It's vital that you take care of yourself. If you feel good about yourself, you will do a better job as a parent.
Start by scheduling "me time" in your planner. Whether it's a daily workout, a few minutes alone with a cup of tea, or a monthly day of shopping or lunch with friends, when you commit to taking time for yourself, you take the first step in reclaiming yourself.
If this seems impossible, refer to number four!
Stephanie Vozza lives in Detroit with her husband and two boys, and is the founder of www.theorganizedparent.com.