“Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a mom.” I sobbed into my husband’s chest before bed. It had been a day. Nap schedules were off, the house was a mess, and the kids were beyond cranky (and still in their pajamas from the night before). I gave up on cooking dinner and ordered takeout. And we hadn’t even gone anywhere that day. I felt like I had failed at momming. I expressed this all to my husband through tear-filled eyes, and that’s when the truth bells came ringing. He reassured me that none of the things I rattled off made me a successful mom or a failure.
At first, I was irritated with him. “Of course these things matter! These things are my JOB!” And then he went and rang the bells again: “No one is keeping score, Samantha.” Yikes. He was right. There is no person with a tiny notepad keeping a list of my accomplishments, waiting to give or withhold a gold star. The only standard I wasn’t meeting was my own. Are you doing the same? Here are 6 things that don’t make you a successful mom.
1. A Full Calendar
Whether it’s a work calendar or a home calendar, we are often tempted to fill the white spaces in our daily schedules and add more bullets to our weekly to-do lists. As moms, we should ignore the urge to constantly stay busy. Culture tells us that productivity is the key to success, but it’s in the white spaces where the magic happens—especially in motherhood. We can use these pockets of free time to do something spontaneous with the kids, try something new for ourselves, or simply rest.
Culture tells us that productivity is the key to success, but it’s in the white spaces where the magic happens—especially in motherhood.
2. A Spotless Home
Being a mom is messy! We shouldn’t feel guilty for leaving the unfolded laundry in the dryer if it means we get to play a fun game of hide-and-seek with our kids or have a family movie night. Our kids aren’t going to remember that we left a dirty coffee mug on the kitchen counter all day, but they will remember how much fun they had playing with us!
3. A Gourmet Dinner Menu
Keeping our kids’ bellies full does not require a fancy cookbook and scratch meals. Although it can be fun to whip up some exquisite recipes once in a while, frozen dinosaur nuggets and some grapes make a mighty fine dinner as well! And you know what a successful mom would do on the I-really-just-can’t-cook-another-meal kind of days? Order takeout and call it a night!
4. A Perfectly Dressed Child
Guess what, mom! The quality of our kids’ lives is in no way affected by how they are dressed. The bow in your daughter’s hair does not need to match her shoes in order for her to have a good day. And a chocolate stain on your son’s shirt isn’t code for “my mom doesn’t care about me.” You can let your kids’ socks be mismatched and their hair go unbrushed and still be a good and successful mom. Especially if dressing your child is a battle, choose to lose that one to save your sanity!
5. A Rigid Schedule
Although kids crave predictability and structure, their schedules do not have to be set in stone. An occasional missed nap or late bedtime will not throw their entire life off-kilter. At the end of the week, there will be no “Perfectly Followed Schedule” trophy waiting for you. Roll with the punches and allow schedules to shift as needed instead of stressing out about unexpected changes.
6. A Happy Family
This is a tough one, but mom, our goal is not to keep everyone happy. And that includes our kids! Should we raise them in a loving and safe home? Absolutely! But should we give them anything and everything they ever want just to make them happy? Definitely not. Sometimes an unhappy kid is a sign of a successful mom—it means you haven’t spoiled your child and you have set limits. Instead of focusing on their happiness, let’s teach our kids to be joyous and content with what they’ve been given.
Are you setting too high of a “successful mom” standard for yourself?