6 Things Moms Should Be Doing
While I'll be the first to acknowledge moms face a lot of judgement, I also must acknowledge that today more than ever, moms get a lot of grace. The mom with the messy house, the mom feeding her kids junk, the mom seemingly always needing a break - we tend to sympathize and normalize all these things now more than ever. Let me be clear, that's a good thing! We're more realistic and understanding which cannot be a more positive change in society.
I often write about respecting others. I write about realizing that everyone does things differently and that it's okay. I write about being "in it together" when it comes to motherhood. I believe in all those things fiercely. But I'd be lying if I said I've never looked a fellow mom and shook my head. I decided to take a bit of risk and talk about a few things that really shouldn't be negotiable. We're all struggling in some way, we all have difficulties to face, but we are still responsible for raising our kids. We still bear responsibility for the way our choices impact others and we should still be striving to do the best we can.
1. Go Outside
Not everyone is going to be the crunchy mom who loves nature. Not everyone is going to spend all day rolling in the mud with their kids. That's perfectly fine. In fact, I think it's perfectly fine to spend most of the day inside if that's your style. I don't think that's going to hurt your children. But at some point, go outside. Get fresh air and vitamin D. Touch a blade of grass. Maybe you only go out every other day, maybe 10 minutes a day. I'm not telling you how to schedule your life but please take your kids outside at least sometimes. It's good for them and it's good for you! I know it's not easy for everyone to haul kids outside but at least try to make it happen regularly.
Some people aren't readers. It's not their thing. That's okay! But read to your kids. Even if you just read a book before bed. Even if it's just half a book. Even if you just point at pictures in the book and say what they are to your child. Just try to read. No matter what a person's interests are, reading can go hand in hand with them. Reading gives your child access to a whole world they'd otherwise never experience. Likewise, not reading closes a lot of doors.
3. Help Other Moms
Every mom I've ever met can rant for ages about how hard it is to be a mom. How tired they are, how busy, and how overwhelmed. However, I cannot say that every mom I know is one who helps others. I'm not asking you to dedicate all your time to doing everyone favours or anything crazy. But if you see a mom in need or a mom asks you for help - offer it. If we all would just help each other out without all the pride, selfishness, and superiority, things would be so much easier for everyone. Watch your friend's baby while they run to the store, rock a newborn for 20 minutes so the new mom can nap or shower, drop the neighbour's kids off at school when you go so she's not late for work, or just invite another mom to come to the park with you so she can get out of the house and talk to another adult. It's really not hard but it makes all the difference.
4. Respect Others
If you say you're going to be somewhere, be there. If you're supposed to do something, do it. I don't know when it was decided that having children means you're more important than everyone else. I get it, kids are tough but you have to respect other people. Be on time for meetings, appointments, or get togethers. Emergencies come up but plan for them and ACTUALLY do your best. If you owe someone money, pay them immediately. If you borrow something, return it. Sign the freaking field trip and lunch order forms. Forgetfulness happens, but don't make a habit of it just because you have kids to use as an excuse. Write a note, set an alarm. Do what you have to do. That's adulthood.
5. Teach Your Kids Manners
This is an ongoing one. You don't need to do an intensive manners boot camp tomorrow (or maybe you do, I don't know how far gone things are.) But when the opportunity comes up, teach manners. Tell your kids to say please and thank you. Tell your kids to say excuse me. Even better - do it yourself! Your actions speak louder than words. It seems pretty simple but lots of kids today lack basic manners because we're all so busy we don't stop and show them how.
6. Discipline Your Kids
Look, I don't care how you do it. I don't care what method you use or what parenting style fits for you. Just discipline your kids. Please, for the sake of society as a whole. I'll be the first to acknowledge that some children are just born more "challenging" than others but I will not concede that a difficult child is an excuse for not parenting. Make rules, create consequences for those rules, and follow through. Even when it's hard, inconvenient, or exhausting. You owe it to everyone. You owe it to yourself, because in the long run, it's better to raise your kids right than deal with brats forever. You owe it to those around you. While kids naturally act out sometimes, if your child is literally running around screaming, destroying people's property - sorry, that's not cool. Most importantly, you owe it to your children. It's 100% clear when I meet a person who got away with being a little nightmare. Why? Because they're horrible adults to deal with! You don't want your kid to become THAT person.
I know this isn't the feel good type of article we like to read. It's not a beautiful note of encouragement, a reminder to take care of yourself, or a sentimental essay full of cliches. But as much as we need all the lovey-dovey stuff, we need a little tough love every now and again, too. This might be a harsh dose of reality but I promise, it's not meant to hurt you. If you honestly feel horribly judged by this, it's probably because you have some things to work on. I am nowhere near perfect. I don't even always succeed at these 100% of the time. I need this reminder just as much as anyone else.
We're all doing our best but if you're falling short in these areas, it might be time to reconsider where you're investing time and energy. You don't have to be perfect but if we all work a little harder on these things, I think we'll all be pleased with the results in our children.