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Let go of perfect: 10 ways to be a ‘good enough’ mom

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

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.


These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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