I’ll never forget the feeling of sheer horror that I experienced the day I was sitting at my desk sending a quick email only to look over at my 1.5 year old holding a can of End Dust spray, mouth around the straw trying to suck it like a sippy cup. Thank the Lord he didn’t pull that trigger.
Or that time that I forgot to toss a dirty #2 diaper and found my son had explored the contents and tossed them all over his room. Nightmare.
I’ve had lots of mom fails (and calls to poison control) in my 3 years of being a parent and what I’ve learned is that I’m not alone. Usually when I feel like the suck-iest mom on the planet I can call my BFF and she gives me a few stories about other mom fails she’s heard or read and then I don’t feel as bad. If not, she just re-assures me that everything will be okay.
If your a new mom or a seasoned mom just remember that mom fails are part of growing. They are a rite of passage in parenthood. Without them, your kid probably lives in a bubble of some sort. Bubble parenting isn’t balanced either. In my opinion there are three simple qualities that help make a good parent.
Awareness means that you are paying attention. You know what your child needs, where they are and what they are doing when they are in your care. That doesn’t mean you have to have hawk eyes on them, it just means that if things get quiet or loud you investigate. You check in with your child while giving them freedom. (This was hard for me at first). Stuff may happen while your kid plays. They may find a something you didn’t even know was hidden in some corner, but if you regularly check on them, you’ll at least be able to manage those conditions even if you can’t always prevent them.
Awareness also means that you are aware of safety hazards in your home and you take care of them. Hazards like fireplaces, electrical outlets, sharp corners, sharp objects, chemicals & stairways to name a few. My End Dust story happened because I had removed the can from it’s safe hiding place and was absent minded about putting it back. It could have been much worse, but it wasn’t so I have to forgive myself and be intentional about putting chemicals away.
Kids require you to become a patient person. They take longer to do everything and require lots of work. Children are new little humans trying to learn how the world works. That takes time. It also takes a lot of calm and patience from us.
You probably have those moments when the environmental inputs going on around you are about to make you have a break down. It might be your toddler screaming as he squeezes that yogurt pouch all over your new carpet, while your dog is yelping and you stepped on a Lego. Maybe the family is going through a period where nothing seems to be going right.
In those times, you have to muster up some strength to push out the frustration and let patience move in. The key is knowing your breaking point and taking measures before it gets that far. Breaking points can cause you to take your frustration out by raising our voice or shutting down completely.
When I’m having a rough time with mustering patience, I stop what I’m doing, put my child in his room where I know he will be safe and content playing. Then I take a break. I sit down, drink some water and get a game plan. Sometimes I just mentally decompress. Sometimes I pray for strength and patience. Then other times I know that the best thing for both of is to just get out of the house and go for a walk.
We are all wired with the ability to love and care for a child whether they’re our own or one we embrace as our own. We know we love our child but life gets hectic and busy. If we don’t take moments as mothers to be attentive, we will miss opportunities that we just can’t get back.
I know that when I’m sitting on the couch with my smart phone and my child crawls up in my lap that he needs a minute of mommy time. I have to switch my attention from the phone to my child in that moment and snuggle. It may last 10 seconds or it may last 5 minutes. Sometimes my son will come up to me when I’m putting away dishes or cooking and say, “Mama, I need snuggle” and I make a choice to stop, reach down and snuggle that kid with all my heart and send him on his merry way.
On the flip side, I don’t always wait for him to come to me. Sometimes you have to seek out your child and play, laugh and snuggle. Moms need kids’ attention too. You need to feel needed. You need to feel loved. Pay attention to your own need for your children. Fill your mom tank every now and then.
Why Failing Makes You a Good Parent
I know there are many more but for the record, this post is supposed to encourage you and remind you that you probably already are a great parent, even when you fail. To encourage you in whatever part of your parenting journey, just remember that as long as you are doing the best you can to keep your kid safe, cared for and loved the rest will work it’s self out. One of the first pieces of parenting advice I got from my pediatrician was, “Go with your gut, you’re a parent now.” While that doesn’t apply to any and all situations, for the most part, when I go with my gut I get through things just fine.
When fails happen, and they will, move on with a lesson learned for the next kid or the BFF that calls you, freaking out because they just caught their toddler eating dog kibble. Let your fails be your wisdom and do your best to prevent history from repeating itself. This is why failing makes you a good parent.
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!