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How to be a good mother

As a therapist for over 20 years, one of the most common recurring themes that comes up in therapy is moms striving to be a perfect mother. I take it on as a clinical mission to help moms let go of this notion of being a 'perfect mother' and instead start to embrace imperfection.


Simply stated, there is no such thing as a perfect mother.

The definition of 'perfect' is to be flawless, complete in all aspects and demonstrating excellent skills. When we are 'perfect,' we have no need to grow or advance any further.

When we strive to be 'perfect,' we let our children down.

Why? Because we begin to show our children, model through our beliefs and behaviors, that anything less than perfect is a failure.

Our children need to learn through our example. Part of the process of growing up means making mistakes through trial and error. As a child grows up, so too does a mother, gaining wisdom and experience along the way, including making mistakes and failing.

Here are 10 ways to be a great, imperfect mom:

1. Take care of yourself.

One of the greatest gifts you can give to your family is to take care of yourself; your body, mind, feelings and spirit. So many women are used to putting themselves last on the to-do list. They become so focused on giving everything without ever having a limit that they either get sick, become resentful, or forget what it's like to nurture themselves.

By taking the time to care for yourself, you create a healthier, stronger way of being which allows you to care for the children and other people in your life more fully and with enjoyment.

2. Love and accept yourself.

Mothers are amazing at being able to unconditionally love their children. But what about unconditionally loving yourself? How often do you have a critical voice in your mind, judging your efforts, putting yourself down and criticizing yourself?

Silence the critic and increase positive self-talk in the same way you'd talk to a friend or your child.

3. Realize that you're a mom for life.

In the span of a lifetime, your child will have many relationships. Being a mother to your child is by far one of the most, if not the most, impactful relationship. Understand that mothering a child is a lifelong commitment to nurturing, teaching, caring for, guiding, loving and supporting another person's growth through the lifespan.

4. Create a life for yourself separate from your child.

Your child will need you in different ways across the lifespan. A baby needs its mother to be attentive at a moment's notice to feed, change and cuddle. As the child moves into toddlerhood,childhood and the teenage years, the needs change.

Being available to your child is critical, but so is having a life of friends, interests, and activities separate from your child.

5. Learn to apologize.

When you make a mistake, do something hurtful, lose your temper or forget to do something, it is important to learn the skill of apologizing. This is not to be confused with the overuse of saying "sorry" experienced by women for asserting themselves or having a thought or feeling. I'm not talking about saying sorry for just anything, rather, learn to apologize when you make a mistake or engage in behavior that hurts someone else or impacts a situation with your child.

6. Be open to your child's feedback.

Children communicate many things through behavior as well as words. Listen to your child when they have something to say, focus your attention on them. You may not agree with their feedback, but giving your child the time and space to hear their thoughts goes a long way in their development and self-confidence.

7. Spend quality time with your children.

Parents are busier than ever these days. As mothers, we are pulled in different directions to support our children that have little to do with spending quality time with them. Your child needs regular and routine quality time with you. Make this a priority every day. Ask questions and be curious. The answers they give you may just delight and surprise you.

8. Don't take your child's misbehavior personally.

You've heard the expression "growing pains"—well that not only includes children. Parents also feel the growing pains in reaction to the push-pull of independence and autonomy as a child grows up.

Independence and growth often result in conflict—your agenda versus the agenda of your child. Sometimes it's easier to understand a toddler saying "no" and throwing a tantrum than when a tween or teen does similar behavior.

In moments of frustration, try to see the message your child is trying to communicate and don't take his/her behavior personally. It likely has more to do with child development than you as a person.

9. Show your feelings, but don't overwhelm your child.

Modeling how to manage your emotions is an important lesson for children. When you're feeling an emotion, for example having a bad day, own your feelings if it is impacting your behavior. Saying to your child, "Mommy is feeling upset about something that happened today so I may be a little quieter, I just want you to know."

Not only does this type of dialogue and interaction help model healthy mood management, but it also allows your child to understand your behaviors and feelings are not the results of something they did. Children often like to fill in the gap to make sense of the world, and they do so by sometimes making assumptions it was their fault.

10. Allow your child to be who they are.

Personality and temperament are strong characteristics of a child. Of course as mothers, we want to influence, shape and expose our children to many opportunities. Children often know who they are and what they want. Part of our job as parents is to find a balance between encouragement and influence;exposure and independence.

Allow your child to be who they are with guidance, love and support from you.

Motherhood is an individual journey with many universal shared experiences and feelings: moments of worry, fear, anger, frustration, annoyance, sadness, exhaustion heartache, embarrassment, joy, gratitude, happiness and contentment.

When we buy into perfection, we lose an opportunity to understand how challenging emotions— the ones that stretch us and push us—are the feelings where we learn the most about ourselves.

The more moms are willing to share how they feel, what they need, or what may be going on beneath the picture perfect surface, the closer they'll gets to improving their well-being and happiness.

A healthy mom is the foundation for creating good moms. And remember: Your child needs you—a healthy version of you—not a perfect you.


Mom life demands efficiency. Because while the amount of hours in the day are the same as before kids, now a sizable chunk of that time is spent caring for and loving on those little people. Compromises happen—and let's just be honest, the old beauty routine is one of the first things to get cut.

But, wait! You don't have to sacrifice putting on mascara or, worse, skipping the SPF. Instead, why not flip it, reverse it, and look at the bright side? Here's your opportunity to streamline your morning makeup routine. With some savvy skin care and beauty hacks, you can get your radiant glow on in record time.

Here are our tried-and-true hacks passed down from Motherly mamas:

1. Embrace multipurpose items

If the most pressing issue is limited time, consolidate multiple steps of your beauty routine with a multipurpose item. For example, instead of starting with a SPF moisturizer, followed by spot concealer and a blendable foundation, you can take care of all of that in one go with one of our favorites: Earth Mama's 3-in-one Lady Face™ Tinted Mineral Sunscreen. The beauty stick also allows you to easily fold SPF 40 into your routine, because Lady Face doubles as super-safe, clean sun protection. Even better? The sunscreen blocks blue light from those ever-present digital screens with a ray-scattering, non-nano formula.

2. Revive dried mascara

Especially after a sleepless night (#motherhood), mascara can make a major difference in how well rested you appear to be. If you realize your tube of mascara is dried out, don't write it off as a lost cause. Simply soak the sealed tube in warm water to loosen up the mascara — or add a drop of a multi-purpose saline solution into the tube. That should do the trick until you have time to buy a replacement. (But let's face it: You're a mom. It's okay if you're tired.)

3. Keep coconut oil handy

Coconut oil isn't just for the kitchen. From a DIY hair mask to an in-a-pinch lip balm or naturally removing makeup at the end of the day, coconut oil's cosmetic hack-list is long. For summer, we especially like adding a thin swipe of organic extra virgin coconut oil to the cheekbones at the end of the makeup routine for a bit of an extra glow.

4. Multitask while deep conditioning

If your hair needs a bit of TLC, consider applying a natural, paraben-free deep conditioner before doing chores around the house or even a short workout. By working up a bit of a sweat, the conditioner will set even better before you rinse off in the shower.

5. Start your hair care routine the night before

As you work to find your new normal morning routine, it can help to simply reschedule a task or two—like hair. If you shower the night before, get a jumpstart on your look by blowdrying, straightening or even braiding it for loose waves in the morning.

6. Even out your skin tone

Between multiple wake-ups during the night and wavering hormones, complexion issues can become a thing for most mamas. Thankfully, the hack for managing that is as simple as finding a great foundation that goes on smoothly and doesn't cake or crack through a morning of momming. Scope out the ingredient list for naturally nourishing components like coconut oil, shea butter or beeswax — and skip the stress (and the return process if the shade doesn't match) by going for something that easily blends with most skin tones.

7. Find brands your feel great about

As a mom, you might find yourself considering bigger life questions: Are my cosmetics safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding? Are they helping the world my children will grow up in? Can I trust the ingredients and mission? Pro tip: read the ingredients on all your personal care products, memorize the ones you want to avoid, and look for third-party certification to ensure the product is actually what it says it is. When you find a brand that walks the talk, you're going to want to be loyal.

8. When in doubt, go for a bold lip

With happy hours swapped for play dates, your daily routine may look a bit different than it used to. But who says you have to leave your personal style behind? If you've always been a fan of makeup and going a bit glam, keep going for it, mama! The extra 60 seconds it takes to apply lipstick or whatever else gives you a bit of pep in your step is well worth it.


This article was sponsored by Earth Mama Organics. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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