31 Easy Ways to be a Better Mom
Are you wondering if you’re doing this whole parenting thing right? It’s totally ok if you are. We all are.
It’s common for moms to feel like we’re never doing enough for our kids. The thing is, no matter how good of a mom you are, there is always room for improvement, and there always will be. We’re humans and we’re imperfect. And we’re raising tiny humans whose behavior is unpredictable, to say the least.
You may be thinking, Yeah, I know, I really want to do better. But I’m exhausted and I’m giving all I have to give as it is. What if I’m not capable of doing better?
I hear you. Don’t beat yourself up. You are doing an amazing job, even on the days when you feel like you’re completely screwing your kids up for life. How do I know this? Because you love your kids, and at the end of the day, that is the most important thing to them. Don’t ever forget that. YOU ARE A GOOD MOM.
That being said, I’m going to challenge you to take some small, simple actions over the next 31 days that will make you and your kids happier. I know you’ve already got a gazillion things going on, so these truly are little things that don’t take up a bunch of time, yet still make a big impact.
But first, let’s define what being a “better” mom actually means.
What does being a better mom mean?
Whatever you do, don’t ask this question on Facebook. It’ll start a fierce debate! Think of all the different parenting styles, methods, and tactics out there. We have moms who co-sleep and those who sleep train. We have moms who helicopter parent and moms who free-range parent. We have moms who formula feed and moms who breastfeed.
And while many moms take the approach of “you do you”, there are just as many moms who judge. It’s all so stressful!
I don’t want to add to the pressure that we moms are already facing. So, instead of telling ourselves that we need to do “better”, let’s ask ourselves this – what is every mom’s goal?
To raise our kids into happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults.
So, for the sake of our sanity, in this article becoming a “better” mom just means taking action towards creating a peaceful, loving, and stable environment where our kids can do just that.
31 Days to Being a Better Mom
So here’s the scoop. I’ve divided these actions into 3 different phases.
The first phase focuses on YOU. This may seem counterintuitive since you want to become a better mom for your kids. But that can’t happen if you don’t take care of yourself, too.
The second phase focuses on your relationship with your significant other. However, I am far from a relationship expert, so this is a really tiny phase! That’s not to say it isn’t important – if your relationship is good, you and your significant other are happier, your home is happier, and your kids are happier.
The third phase focuses on your relationship with your kids. The cherry on top! By the time you reach this last phase, you should be feeling pretty good and ready to go the extra mile with your kids in tow.
Side note: You don’t have to follow and complete these actions over the course of 31 days. You can go ahead and hand pick which actions you think are most needed in your parenting life right now, but if you can, follow them in order.
If you do decide to commit to the full 31 days, I recommend that you either pin this post or print it out so that you can refer back to it daily.
Alright, let’s rock n roll!
Phase 1: Strengthening YOU
Before we get into the actions for this phase, watch this video first. It’s a MUST.
Done watching? Ok, good. Let’s do this.
Day 1: Let it go!
Let it goooo! Can’t hold it back anymore! Sorry, that was incredibly cheesy.
Anywho, let all of the ideas you have of what a “good” mom is fly right out the window. Odds are, your idea of a good mom is the perfect mom, and that just doesn’t exist. And if it did, it wouldn’t actually be good for our kids.
Begin training yourself to ignore other people’s perceived and actual opinions and judgements of your parenting skills.
How do you this, might you ask? Take notice of what you do today and how it makes you feel.
Did you scroll through Facebook, see pictures of the amazing weekend your high school friend had with her kids, and feel guilty that you didn’t do anything with your kids?
Or maybe you talked to your mother who unintentionally questioned one of your parenting decisions and now you’re second guessing yourself.
Or maybe you read about the latest parenting trend in your news feed and it’s the complete opposite of how you’ve been parenting.
None of this matters. The only thing that matters is how you and your partner decided to raise your kids and if your parenting is in line with your values. That’s it.
Be more aware of how you’re feeling and why, and tell yourself to let it go. If social media is really getting to you, take a break. If a loved one is offering you unwanted advice, let them know in a kind way. Protect yourself and follow your intuition.
Remind yourself that you’re a good mom and that no one knows your children and your relationship with them like you do.
Today’s Action: Grab a notebook and write down all of the triggers that you notice throughout your day.
Day 2: Give yourself grace.
Grace is having compassion for yourself. It’s giving yourself a pass when you’ve messed up. It’s forgiving yourself and allowing yourself to be without judgement. It’s taking it easy on yourself. Grace is reminding yourself that you’re doing your best and that is enough.
There are days in parenting that are easier than others. Some days, our kids behave great, our day goes smoothly, and everything feels just right. Other days (more often than not!), it’s complete chaos. You’re ordering take-out for the third night in a row, the dishes are piled high, and you haven’t showered since yesterday morning. Give yourself grace. Tomorrow is a new day.
Giving yourself grace is really hard to do, so be mindful when you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, and then take a break. Repeat to yourself “I am enough”.
To make this a bit easier, you need to figure out your “non-negotiables”. For instance, a non-negotiable for me is having a clean kitchen before going to bed. If I have an awful day, I’m ok with nothing else getting done so long as my kitchen is clean.
Your non-negotiables don’t have to be housework related. They just need to be something so important to you that not doing these things means sacrificing your peace of mind. On crazy days, do your non-negotiables and give yourself grace for all the things left undone.
Today’s Action: Think about what’s absolutely non-negotiable for you, write it down, and let everything else slide if it all goes to shit. Don’t go overboard with your non-negotiables! Try to pick only 1-3.
Day 3: Make Time for Yourself.
This one kind of feels laughable, doesn’t it? There aren’t enough hours in the day as it is, and now you have to figure out how to carve out alone time for yourself? You can’t even pee alone in peace!
Well, yes. You need to figure out how to get some alone time. And not just today, although that’s a good start. You need to do it consistently.
It’s not easy, I know. There’s a lot of guilt that can come along with this. But you know that it’s harder to take care of others when you haven’t been taking care of yourself.
When you’re not well taken care of, it’s much easier to reach your breaking point and snap at your kids. It’s harder to be patient enough to guide them through tough emotions that they don’t know how to handle. It’s more exhausting to be present and take time to play with them.
And just as importantly, you are a person and deserve to be happy and taken care of. Swallow your pride, push aside the guilt and the fear, and let your significant other know that you’re going to do something for yourself once a week. It can be as small as taking a bath with a good book, just as long as it’s something that you like to do, that it recharges you, and that it’s 100% kids-free.
Today’s Action: Do something, anything, for yourself today. Then plan out what your self-care is going to look like over the next few weeks and tell your significant other about it. If you don’t have a significant other, then try to line up a babysitter or make a date with yourself after the kids are in bed.
Day 4: Wake up before your kids and have some quiet time.
This is a big one for all my fellow moms who are NOT morning people.
The way you start off your morning often dictates how the rest of your day will go. If you hit snooze a bunch of times then pop out of bed in a hurry, your morning is going to be super stressful, your kids are going to be super difficult, and you’re heading into your day already in a bad mood.
Waking up before your kids do gives you some quiet time to set intentions for your day. I’m not saying you have to do something crazy, like wake up at 4 am. Hell to the no. Even just 15 minutes earlier can make a world of difference.
Use that time to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, meditate, journal, read, or to make your to-do list for the day.
Today’s Action: Set your alarm clock for at least 15 minutes before your kids usually wake up. Then decide what you’ll do with that time. Do something that will set a positive tone for the rest of your day.
Day 5: Get a solid 8 hours of sleep.
If you’re doing these actions in order and one day at a time, that means you got up earlier than usual today. Woohoo! Today’s action is rather fitting.
Get at least 8 hours of sleep tonight. Put your phone down and turn the TV off. Go through a relaxing night time routine, and settle into bed.
I’m sure you’ve realized how irritable you can be with little sleep. There are certainly seasons (like the newborn phase) where getting a straight 8 hours of sleep isn’t exactly realistic. But if you’re at a point where your kids are sleeping through the night, then make yourself go to bed early.
If you lay down in bed and have trouble shutting your mind off, try a meditation app. I can’t get myself to meditate (one day I will, but not today), however, there is a free meditation app that I use at night when I feel restless. It has me out in 5 minutes flat when I would otherwise be tossing, turning, and overthinking every little thing. Try searching your phone’s app store for something that piques your interest. The one that I use is “Insight Timer” and it’s free (yay).
Today’s Action: Decide on the bedtime that will get you 8 hours of sleep. Put your phone down an hour beforehand, wind down with a relaxing bedtime routine, and drift off into a peaceful sleep (don’t forget to try a meditation app if needed!).
Day 6: Oustource, if possible.
If you have the means, outsource a responsibility. Some options are getting a house cleaning service, ordering a meal prep kit, and doing your food shopping online so all you have to do is pick it up.
I promise you that it is worth the money. It will save your sanity! A more sane you means you can be even more awesome at parenting than you already are.
Today’s Action: Figure out if you’re able to outsource anything. If spending the money is a worry for you, see if there is anything extra you spend money that you can give up, or go with the cheapest option, like food shopping online (People tend to save money when food shopping on line vs. shopping in the store, and that could make up the fee for the service!).
Day 7: Ask for help.
I know, I know – we’re supposed to be able to do it all. Asking for help means we’re failures. It means we’re not *gasp* superhuman!
Let go of your pride and let go of the guilt. It’s ok to ask for help. You are not burdening anyone. You are not failing at motherhood.
The people in your life love you and helping you out brings them a lot of joy! Think about if the tables were turned and a dear friend or family member of yours needed help. You offer to help, but they keep turning you down. It’s frustrating, right?
Now imagine that they came to you and said, “I’m drowning. Life is just a lot right now. Would you be able to watch my kids for a bit while I get some errands done?”. You’d say yes because you want your loved ones to be happy, and it would make you happy knowing you’re easing some of their burdens.
We all need help from time to time. Ask for it.
Today’s Action: Ask someone for help. It could be asking your significant other to divvy up the chores 50/50, or asking a co-worker to grab lunch for you from the cafeteria while you attend a meeting. Just ask for help, even if you don’t really need it today, so that you get used to the idea of doing it.
Day 8: Say no.
Give yourself permission to say no to things you don’t really want to do, or when your plate is full and taking on one more thing will push you over the edge.
It’s hard to say no because we don’t want to let anyone down. But it’s not healthy for us to constantly be going. Remember the Day 3 action of making time for yourself? Make that a top priority and protect it. A healthier, happier you means a better mom for your kids.
If taking on one more thing is going to take away time that you can have for yourself, say no. I used to really struggle with this, but I found that simply saying “Oh, I’d love to, but I have so much going on right now. Maybe in the future”, or “I would take this on for you, but I wouldn’t be able to give it my full effort and that wouldn’t be fair to you” makes it a whole lot easier.
Also remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you can’t do something.
Today’s Action: Look at your upcoming month. Is there anything on your calendar that you really don’t want to do? (doctor appointments, like that gyno appointment, don’t count) Is it something you can cancel? If it’s not, keep your commitment and do it, but don’t take it on again.
Day 9: Get organized.
I am not a naturally organized person. I’m not Type A. It took me all of my teen years, the entirety of my 20s, and the early part of my 30s to finally understand that being organized makes life a whole lot less stressful (I’m a slow learner apparently!).
There were many times that I would snap at my son because I was stressed out about not being able to find something. There were also many times when I had major mom guilt because I could never remember pajama day or funny hat day at daycare. My kid was always the kid who was never ready for that stuff.
I still show up to birthday parties on the wrong day (seriously) and lose things from time to time, but not as often as I used to. It really makes a difference in my peace of mind.
Today’s Action: Identify at least one way you can be more organized. Maybe it’s making sure you write everything on the calendar in your kitchen, or it could be designating a specific time to fill in the week of that pretty, new planner you bought.
Phase 2: Strengthening Your Relationship with Your Significant Other
Day 10: Have a Date Night!
There’s not much to say here except that kid-free date nights do wonders for relationships. But I’m sure you already know that.
Having at least 2 kid-free date nights per month is a good goal to start with if this is something you aren’t doing on the reg already.
Today’s Action: Find a sitter and get a date night on the calendar for this weekend.
Day 11: Sexy Time!
I know there are a lot of moms who have no problem squeezing in sexy time whenever they can (you go, girl!). I, however, am not one of them.
The intimate part of your relationship is often the first to go when you have kids. I think it’s completely understandable – kids take a lot of us. By the time it’s the end of the day, we’re exhausted and the thought of doing anything physical feels impossible.
Also, many of us aren’t comfortable in our mom bods. When we don’t feel attractive, it’s tough to get in the mood.
But as you’re aware, a healthy sex life with your partner will improve your relationship by leaps and bounds and will make both of you happier.
Today’s Action: Take a shower, shave your legs – do whatever you need to do to feel sexy. Then get it on!
Day 12: Work with your spouse to set boundaries for your kids.
After having a date night and some sexy time, you and your significant other should be feeling pretty good about each other. This is the perfect time to revisit how your parenting is going.
Get on the same page about which battles to fight with your kids and decide what boundaries you need to set with them. Also talk about appropriate consequences when those boundaries are crossed. Discuss how you can communicate these boundaries to your kids, and commit to backing each other up on them.
If you and your spouse are on the same page with your parenting strategies, it eliminates arguments between the two of you, and your kids are more likely to respect the boundaries.
Today’s Action: Get a date on the calendar with your husband to discuss this.
Phase 3: Strengthening Your Relationship with Your Kids
Day 13: Be present.
We live in a world full of distractions. It’s hard to stay focused on anything. We multitask like crazy.
Our kids just want our focus and attention, and you’d be amazed at how giving just 5 minutes of your undivided attention to them each day positively impacts their behavior. Our kids often misbehave because it’s the only way they can get our full attention, and bad attention is better than none.
Today’s Action: Make an effort to fully focus on your kids when they are talking to you. Put your phone away from you, get down to their level, and look them in the eye as they talk to you. Ask a question or make a meaningful comment about what they tell you to let them know you heard them.
Day 14: Say “yes” more.
What are the expectations you have of your kids? Are they age-appropriate?
I found that my husband and I had unrealistic expectations for our kids. We were pretty much expecting them to act as mini-adults. Since they weren’t capable of achieving what we expected of them (through no fault of their own), it felt like we were constantly telling them, “No! Stop that!”.
It was exhausting for all of us. We started saying “yes” more and picking our battles. As an example, if my son wants to sit in his brother’s car seat (and his brother isn’t coming), I’ll let him (they’re identical seats). In the past, we’d tell him no and that he needs to sit in his own car seat. But really, what’s the big deal?
And truly, if it’s not something that is endangering them and it’s not breaking a family rule, why fight it?
As a result, when we said no to something, our kids were more willing to listen to us.
Today’s Action: Stop yourself before you say no to your kids. Ask yourself if this is really a big deal or not in the scheme of things. If it’s not, let it slide.
Day 15: Get outside with your kids.
Research shows again and again that outside, unstructured pay is critically important to children’s development. There’s even a challenge going around right now called the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge which is exactly what it sounds like – getting your kids outside for 1000 total hours in 2020. That averages out to about 2.5 hours a day.
Depending on the age of your kids, that might be tough to accomplish, so if you’re not up to that challenge, don’t feel bad. I’m not up for it this year! Maybe in a couple years when I can trust my kids to be outside without me.
But at the very least, we can spend a bit of time outside with them everyday, weather permitting. There are so many benefits to this – we all get some Vitamin D, breathe in fresh air, give our kids a chance to burn off energy, and our connection with them will deepen through play.
Today’s Action: Get outside with your kids for at least 15 minutes. You can go for a walk, have a scavenger hunt, play tag – the options are endless! Have fun with it.
Day 16: Don’t micromanage your kids.
Hovering over our kids while they do every little thing sends the message that we don’t trust them. I’ll admit that it’s tough to stand there and watch my almost 3 year old trying to put on his own shirt. I want to grab it and just put it on him myself.
But if I do that, I know that I’m telling him I don’t think he can do it himself. Letting your kids have space to learn on their own helps to build their confidence.
Today’s Action: If your child is trying to do something themselves, and you find yourself close to taking over for them, walk away. Let them figure it out on their own, unless they ask for you help. Even then, try coaching them through it and let them do as much of the task as possible without completely taking over.
Day 17: Get some one-on-one time with each of your kids.
If you have a sibling, you might remember competing for your parents’ attention when you were little. That desire to have your parents’ full attention doesn’t go away when a sibling comes along. It can actually intensify.
Spending alone time with each of your kids on a regular basis lets them know that they are really important to you.
Today’s Action: Let each of your kids know that you’re going to take them out on an adventure – just the two of you. Ask them what they would like to do, and set the date.
Day 18: Stop Comparing Your Kids to Other Kids, Especially Siblings.
There are two facets to this. First, stop comparing how your child is behaving and developing relative to your friends’ kids. You will drive yourself insane and your child will be able to tell you’re stressed.
Second, don’t compare your kids against eachother. Meaning, “Your sister listens, why can’t you?”. This is a breeding ground for sibling rivalry, and it feels crappy.
Today’s Action: If you find yourself comparing how your child behaves, talks, walks or anything else, to someone else’s child, stop and remind yourself that every child is different. Also, if you tend to compare your child to someone else when scolding them, catch yourself before you do it.
Day 19: Don’t talk about your kids to others in front of them.
This is in the same vein as Day 19’s action. Don’t judge me, but I used to do this all the time with my first son when he was a toddler. He was especially tough to parent and I was frustrated. I would tell anyone who would listen how stubborn and hard he was, and my son was definitely in ear shot.
It never occurred to me that he was probably listening to what I was saying about him. At this age, we are our kids’ worlds. They believe pretty much everything we say, even when it’s about them.
Our voice becomes our children’s inside voice when they’re older – make it positive.
Today’s Action: Be aware of how you’re talking about your kids to others when they’re around. They hear and pick up on things that we sometimes think they can’t.
Day 20: When you feel your blood pressure rising, pause.
Our kids inevitably push our buttons. They like to test boundaries and see how serious we are about them. It’s no fun for us.
If you feel yourself getting angrier and angrier and you’re about to snap, pause. Just freeze for like 5 seconds and take a deep breath. Then deal with your kids. That pause can make all the difference in how you respond to them (read: You’ll respond to them more calmly).
Today’s Action: Practice the pause.
Related Post: How to Get Rid of Mom Anger & Be a Calmer Parent
Day 21: Right before your kids go to bed, ask them what their favorite part of the day was.
Sometimes our kids don’t know how fortunate they are, right? If we want our kids to grow into empathetic and positive people, we need to teach them gratitude.
A fun way to do this is adding this question into your child’s bedtime routine: What was your favorite part of today?
I absolutely love asking my kids this question. Sometimes they say things that surprise me. Last Saturday we went to Sesame Place so I thought my older son would say going on rides was the favorite part of his day. But you know what he said? Playing with his legos at home was his favorite part!
You’ll learn a lot about your kids, and your kids will get into the habit of recognizing all the great things in their lives.
Today’s Action: Ask your kids what the favorite part of their day was as you’re tucking them in.
Day 22: Take notice of something good your child does and let them know.
Parents easily fall into the habit of calling out their kids when they do something wrong, but ignoring them when they are being good.
Here’s the thing: Our kids are going to do more of what gets them our attention because that’s what they want – our attention. So while you still have to correct your child when they’re doing something wrong or unacceptable, remember to let them know when they’ve done something good. Try to have the positive recognition outnumber the times you correct them.
Today’s Action: Pay attention to your kids throughout the day and let them know you appreciate what they’ve done when they do something good, even the small things.
Day 23: Have a tech free day.
Screens are everywhere and a normal part of our existence. TVs, tablets, smart phones, laptops.
This might give you heart palpitations, like it does to me, but take a day to go tech free. I mean NO devices all day. You can set your cell phone up so that only certain people can get through so you’re still reachable for emergencies.
Spend the day with your kids doing what your parents did when you were a kid (assuming you grew up in a screen-free generation like me!).
Today’s Action: Decide on the day with your significant other when your family is going to go tech-free, mark it on the calendar, and do it!
Day 24: Ask Your Kids to Help Around the House.
Kids like to feel like they contribute to the family and contrary to what it may seem, they actually like to help, especially toddlers.
It’s a little strange with older kids – my kindergartner won’t willingly clean his room, but if I ask him to do something that I don’t normally ask him to do, like empty the dishwasher, he enthusiastically does it.
So I guess that’s the secret to getting your kids to help – have them do chores you don’t normally ask them to do!
You may be hesitant to do this at times because it can feel like your kids “helping” actually creates more work for you. And sometimes it does.
But it makes them feel needed and that they are a valuable part of the family. It also teaches them independence and responsibility.
Today’s Action: Ask your child to help you with a chore.
Day 25: Teach your kids something new.
Children are naturally curious and they’re like little sponges that soak everything up. They’re easily excited. It’s such a special time in their lives. We’re busy, stressed out adults and we easily forget this.
Teaching our kids something new not only makes them more knowledgeable but it can also unlock an interest that they end up being really passionate about. For example, I was at HomeGoods one day (I had no business being there, but I can’t help myself with that store), and I saw a cool picture of the solar system that would go great in my son’s room.
I brought it home and showed my son. Within a week he had all of the planets memorized AND he loves all things space now. It’s really fun to see!
Today’s Action: Think of something your kids don’t know much about yet and introduce it to them in a fun way.
Day 26: Do something kind for someone with your kids.
Don’t you feel incredibly proud when your child does something nice for someone without you suggesting it or telling them to do it? They just do it on their own. It’s kind of shocking, but really wonderful.
We all want to raise kind humans, and it starts with us. We need to show our kids how important it is to be kind. Take the time to do something kind for someone else with your kids. It could be baking cookies for a sick neighbor, sending an impromptu “I love you” video to a far away family member, or volunteer work.
Today’s Action: Decide on something kind that you can do this week with your kids and do it.
Day 27: Plan a fun activity to do with your family this month.
Every spring I get super excited for summer (I live in NJ and the winters are so depressing). The nicer weather gets me all ambitious and I swear that this summer is going to best summer ever. I tell my husband all the grand things we’re going to do and I agree with my cousin/best friedn that we’re going to get to the beach a lot this year.
Then comes Labor Day. I look back at the summer, and realize we didn’t do one thing. Time just gets away.
Time really does go fast, so on the first of each month, decide on at least one activity that you’re going to do with your family.
Today’s Action: Decide on the activity that you’re going to do this month with your family.
Day 28: Model the behavior you want your kids to exhibit.
Our kids are watching us even when we don’t think they are. They see how we talk to our significant others, how we talk to ourselves, and how we treat other people. Then they mimic that behavior.
We are their best teachers in life, and often times, they learn the most just by observing us.
Today’s Action: Think about the behaviors you want your kids to exhibit and act accordingly.
Day 29: Ask your kids if you can play with them.
Our kids ask us a million times a day if we’ll play with them. But do you ever walk up to them and ask if you can play with them?
If you haven’t, give it a try. It’ll totally catch your kids off guard and they will be so excited!
Today’s Action: Take 15 minutes out of your day to play with your kids, and make sure you are the one who initiated the play.
Day 30: Try not to yell.
This can be a tough one, for sure. But if you’ve been following along with the challenge, you should be feeling pretty good and when you’re feeling good, you’re less likely to lose it on your kids.
If you need some help in this area, read about how to discipline your kids without yelling.
Today’s Action: Instead of resorting to yelling when your kids misbehave, try one of these tactics.
Day 31: Do something crazy and unexpected!
It’s the last day of the challenge, woohoo! Go out with a bang and do something crazy and unexpected. Let the rules fly out the window for a bit.
Maybe it’s taking your kids out for ice cream when they really should be going to bed, or surprising them with tickets to the movies.
Today’s Action: Break the rules (or just the monotony) with your kids!
Continue Being an Awesome Mom
After these 31 days you should have a better idea of what you and your kids really needed. Some actions will have had a bigger impact than others. Take note of those actions and double up on them!
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