Menu
6 ways to model self-compassion for your kids

There's a lot of talk these days about self-care. And while we're all for mamas treating themselves in whatever way they need—be it a mani-pedi, a long run, or simply a morning where you actually get to sleep in as much as you want—we think it's even more important for mamas to practice regular amounts of self-compassion.

Think about it: You're constantly practicing empathy for those around you, whether it's sending solidarity vibes to the fellow mama at the store with the tantruming toddler or getting on your kid's level after he's had a rough day at kindergarten. And while modeling empathy for others is one of the best ways to raise children to be empathetic themselves, we would argue that it's just as important to set the example when it comes to self-empathy and compassion.

So where's a selfless mama to start? Here are six simple ways to model self-compassion for your children from clinical psychologist and co-founder of Harmony in Parenting, Dr. Azine Graff.

1. Give yourself two minutes

When our to-do lists feel longer than the number of hours we have in a day, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of rushing from one responsibility to the next without taking time for ourselves. Our expert's tip? Start with two minutes.

"What would be different if you gave yourself two minutes in the car before entering your home? What if you could spend those two minutes to reflect on what you want the rest of your day to look like?" Graff says. "Two minutes gives us the time to prepare ourselves for what is next rather than rushing and diving headfirst into challenges that can lead us to lose our cool."

Try this: Instead of rushing ahead to that next to-do, take a minute to clear your head. Try a deep-breathing exercise, sneak a healthy snack, or simply close your eyes and enjoy the (oh-so-rare) quiet.

2. Fuel yourself as nutritiously as you do your children

We've all succumbed to the 2 p.m. sugary snack trap—and lived to regret it. But for most of us, it's easier to turn our children to healthier choices because we believe a simple truth: It's better for them. Show yourself the same love by viewing your food as fuel and eating what you really need to sustain yourself.

Bonus: Setting the example will make your child a lot more likely to follow suit when you're not there making the choice between carrot sticks or chocolate for them.

Try this: Craving something sweet? Skip the candy and opt for a probiotic-rich dairy free yogurt drink from Califia Farms. It will satisfy your sweet tooth while also providing the right balance of healthy bacteria for your gut.

3. Take off the perfection pressure

Forgiving yourself for mistakes—or simply giving yourself permission to make them—is not just showing yourself kindness. It's also a great way to cut down on stress. "Being kind to ourselves can also reduce the pressure that creeps into our children leading to lack of self-worth, anxiety, and fear," says Graff.

Try this: Made a mistake? Don't beat yourself up. Instead, remind yourself (and your child) that no one gets it right every time—next time, you'll take the lessons you learned to do better.

4. Say "no" more

You would never force your child to take on more than they can handle. And while it can be difficult to decline invitations, opportunities, or extracurriculars, leaving no room for balance is a quick way to deplete yourself—as well as your children. Take a cue from Graff: "Finding that balance between boredom and active allows our brains to meet a combination of our needs."

Try this: Until you get comfortable saying no when you need to, "schedule" a free day every week in your calendar. That way, if you get any invitations you're not ready to handle, you can honestly tell them that your day is already booked!

5. Embrace hobbies and projects that make you feel like "you"

Especially when children are young, it's easy to set aside our own interests to focus on our children's needs. But by modeling the importance of doing what we enjoy (and maintaining a strong sense of self), we model what taking care of ourselves looks like. "As a result, not only are we a positive example for our children, but we feel more whole as a person by incorporating the activities that keep us inspired and engaged," Graff says.

Try this: Think about what you used to do before kids for fun. If you loved working with your hands, check your local library for a free art or gardening class. Fan of the outdoors? Book a sitter and plan a long hike or bike ride to get yourself a little sunshine. Love spending time in the kitchen? Use nap time as dinner prep so you can enjoy the process, or involve your kids in preparing simple, healthy snacks you can both enjoy.

6. Validate your own feelings

Just like our children, adults often have feelings that are difficult to cope with. "If we can acknowledge our own anger, disappointment, sadness, fears or frustration, for example, we are more likely to take ownership of these feelings and practice coping to address our feelings," Graff says. Plus, it's a great way to model healthy expression and reflection of difficult emotions for our little ones.

Try this: Make time to talk about the not-so-pleasant feelings with your kids too. Try saying, "Sometimes things don't go the way Mommy planned, and that makes me frustrated. Do you feel frustrated sometimes too?" It's a great way to open the conversation and raise both of your emotional intelligences.


This article was sponsored by Califia Farms. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly + mamas.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

Shop

Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play