Note: This post originally ran in the past, but it was so popular we decided to bring it back as an oldie but goody!
We all make mistakes as a mom. It’s part of the job. We learn as we go. But if I could go back and tell myself a few things about raising an infant, then toddler, and now preschooler, I would say the following: Take a deep breath! You’re not f*ing your kid up on a daily basis.
No, but for real. This is what I’d say are a few of my biggest mom mistakes.
You do not need to play with your child all day long.
Honestly, I didn’t realize this until I was interviewing several child psychologists and pediatricians while reporting a story for Parents Magazine: You shouldn’t be your kid’s entertainer. It’s important for kids to learn how to occupy themselves, and studies show that kids actually learn less when you try to teach them how to do things. (Fascinating, right?)
This isn’t to say you should dump your kid in the playroom all day and watch soaps. Hardly. Your children thrive off of one on one attention, and working moms know it’s quality not quantity of time that matters most. But it’s also healthy for you to flip through Vogue while your son builds Legos. After playing princess with your little girl, why not let her play alone while you do yoga nearby? It’s important for kids to learn how to take initiative and self direct their play. As one pediatrician told me, young children need at least three 20 minute periods of free play, preferably more, each day. Play is how they learn about the world, emotions and relationships.
Do not feel guilty about taking time for yourself.
Am I the only one who feels badly when I leave my child with a babysitter to get a pedicure or go out to lunch with a girlfriend? I tend to think that if I hire a babysitter, I should be working or running household errands, almost like I need to “earn” my time away. Ridiculous.
Time away from your kids makes you a better mom. Plain and simple. If you have time to recharge and glimpse who you were before kids (even though you love your post-kid life), you just feel more human. You need that.
Don’t feel guilty like me. Just do it. (I’ll admit that I’m still working on this.)
Don’t you dare use nap time to clean.
I once interviewed a time management expert for a parenting story, and she gave me the best piece of mom-to-mom advice: “Don’t do anything during nap time that you can do while your children are awake.” Dirty dishes. Do those while your daughter toddles around. Dinner? Involve your son in the planning. Instead, take nap time to do something for you: exercise, read a book, catch up on an episode of Homeland. Sit in the sun and close your eyes. Nap time is your time, not chore time.
What is your biggest mom mistake? Please share. It will make us all feel better.