The good thing about this hyper-connected world we live in is that we have access to lots of information. For instance, we moms have access to an endless supply of advice about feeding our families right, helping our kids to succeed in a million endeavors, and making holidays and other occasions extra-special. It helps give us ideas as we attempt to conquer our mommy duties. The problem is that it is overwhelming. We begin to believe that we’re supposed to be good at all of these things, all of the time and that anything less is bad parenting.
But the truth is that we all have different gifts and strengths, and that’s okay! To help take the monkey off your back, we’ve broken mom-world down into the more and less important areas of focus. We hope it will help you be free!
What to Sweat
- Teaching Core Values and Good Character. Whether it’s tracking chores to teach the value of hard work or taking the kids to church to help them understand their relationship to God, core values are worth the effort.
- Academic Success. Making sure that your children are on track academically and learning how to seek extra resources when necessary is vitally important to their future. But remember, learning all the spelling words for the test and making the “world’s biggest baking soda volcano” for the science fair are two different things. The spelling words are non-negotiable. The volcano, you could probably dial down a notch or two.
- Fitness and Nutrition. These are two areas that deserve your attention and consistency where the kids are concerned. But even knowing that, don’t be too hard on yourself if junk food levels rise on vacation, or you have a couch potato week during bad weather. Think big picture and your kids will benefit in the long run.
- Personal Responsibility. Remember, the idea is for them to be able to take care of themselves one day. Go to the trouble to train them to do more for themselves as they grow and one day you’ll thank yourself.
What to Forget
- Appearances. Yes, you want your child to learn to be groomed and neat, but don’t forget that they are children. Some moms are burning up too much energy (and money) trying to make their children appear as if they just walked out of a catalog shoot for a kids’ boutique. Chill out. Let them get dirty occasionally or wear a play outfit that you don’t worry about stains on. Ditto for the decor in your kids’ bedrooms and/or playroom. The whole world doesn’t have to look like the Pottery Barn Kids catalog to be great.
- Hyped-Up Holidays. In the world where I grew up, Christmas was a biggie but all other holidays would likely garner little more than a themed coloring sheet at school. Now we’re making elaborate costumes for trick-or-treating, spending a full month moving a mythical elf around the house before Christmas, and baking intricate cookies shaped like a leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day. Our point? Buying the box of pre-made valentines from the drug store instead of making the crafty ones from Pinterest does not make you a bad mom. It makes you a mom who knows her limits. (Exception: if you are a mom who derives deep personal pleasure from creating crafty and culinary treats, press on with our blessings. Just make some extra for our kids.)
- School Project Overkill. Grammar school teachers could write volumes about simple project assignments (meant to be completed by, ahem, children) that turned into elaborate “mompetitions.” Book report costumes that were Broadway stage-worthy. Science projects that would intimidate NASA engineers. Posters that belong in The Louvre. Chill out, Mom. Your kids will learn just as much (and probably more) from the process if they do it themselves…no matter how messed-up it looks to you.
Tell us! What holiday stresses you out the most?