Wherever You Are Be All There. -Jim Elliot
I’ve decidedly grown to despise the word perfect over the past few years. It’s no longer in my vocabulary as a way to compare myself to others in any way, shape, or form -and I’m glad I have because no one is. When I relate my actions today to the mom I was one, two, three, four, even five years ago…I don’t, haha. You see, removing this idea that I could become a perfect anything has saved me from a lot of pain, heartache, and especially mom guilt. The only time we should ever use the term “perfect” in a sentence is if we’re describing how a bomb meal hit the spot after a long day, how that two-hour massage was, or how a pair of high-waisted jeans shapes that hot mom tush…and the list goes on.
When it comes to who we strive to be as mothers, we have to let that false idea of “perfect” go because the truth is we’re never, ever, ever going to be perfect as mothers and that’s perfectly okay.
Motherhood is and will remain this compelling and everchanging shitshow that we love and adore and yes, sometimes even cringe over. One of the worst things we can do to ourselves is us holding this forever denied idea of perfection over our already exhausted heads.
Instead of chasing this idea of the perfect mom we need to focus on being a more present mom. That’s where all the magic is.
Wait, wait wait…
Before you start to get all these ideas on how a present mother is a mom who has no life, giving every waking moment to her children, you’ve got what a present mother is about all wrong. We can’t be present all the time!
We work, we play, we need our alone time. Hello, we’re adults, we’re not our children’s best friends we’re their parents, and it’s our responsibility to teach them how to succeed in life without us eventually.
As moms, it’s important to respect ourselves enough to follow through with our needs as individuals and teach our children that self-care and work ethic is not only a positive trait but a necessary one. We also need to teach our children that they can’t always have our time and attention. They need to use their imaginations and discover ways to entertain themselves, to be respectful, and to have patience.
So let’s get those mom-shaming, and negative thoughts removed right now and put them in the garbage where they belong. Byyeeeeeee.
Let the woman and mother you are as an individual stand tall and take your power back. Start the process of removing “perfect” from your vocabulary and replacing it with “present.”
Being a present mother means that you’re there and giving it your all. It’s realizing that bad yesterdays are normal and they hold no ground on today. It’s making the conscious decision to remain mindful and create more moments with your children instead of stressing about what’s going on outside of your home.
When we stop worrying about who we should be or what we need to change and focus on the moments in front of us, that’s when we become a present parent.
WAYS TO BE A MORE PRESENT PARENT
DITCH THE PHONE WHILE YOU WAIT: When we’re waiting what’s the first thing most of us do as adults to pass the time? We pick up and look through our phones! The next time you’re waiting; whether for a doctor’s appointment, in the line at the post office, or for a table at a restaurant instead of looking through your phone play a game instead. “I Spy,” Dots and Boxes,” “I’m thinking of…,” get creative!
BE PHYSICALLY PRESENT: Hold their hands, give them long hugs, cuddle with them while you watch television, wrap your arms around them as often as you can and never stop. Let them know that you’re not only there, but you want them to be right there next to you.
EAT YOUR MEALS TOGETHER: Turn off all electronics and enjoy each others company while you eat. Try to eat at least two meals a day at the dining room table and make these moments something the entire family looks forward to every day.
CHORES (YUP THAT’S RIGHT): Want to be more present and have your children help you clean without the whining and whimpering? Try “Ready-Set-Clean,” I can reel in the family for a little power cleaning session that’s effective and fun, and it brings us all together. We decide which living area we’re going to tackle, turn on some music, then start a timer for 10-30 minutes while we clean as fast as we can. Works like a charm in our house and the teamwork makes us as present as possible not to mention it lessens your household workload. Win, win.
GIVE INDIVIDUAL CHILDREN INDIVIDUAL ATTENTION: When you take the time to have one on one time with your child, you’ll create memories that will stay with them forever. Start a tradition where you can be present with your children separately as the individuals that they are.
TALK: It really is that simple, all you need to do is strike up a conversation -a few words go a long way in the eyes of our children. Every minute from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed is another opportunity to be a present mom.
PUT A TIME LIMIT ON ELECTRONICS: Zoning out a little too much and noticing that days are just flying by you? Try grounding yourself from electronics (phone, computer, t.v.) or setting a strict time limit for when you use them. Like Gretchen Rubin said, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
FOCUS ON YOUR FAMILY: Every family is different so why compare? When your attention is solely on the happiness of your family that’s when the magic happens. Not only will you stop looking outward as a way to compare, but your children will as well.
DISCIPLINE YOUR CHILDREN: Yes, I believe that being a present mother means that you need to be a mother that disciplines her children. Notice that I didn’t say punish.
When my daughter does something she’s not supposed to do or treats someone unkindly, I’m on it. I’m instantly on her level, striking up a conversation and making sure she understands what she’s doing isn’t okay. Next, I’m guiding her through the situation in a loving yet severe manner. Almost always we can help her work through her emotions and actions within a few minutes, before going back to our fun-filled day. Maybe something happened at school? Don’t let your child off the hook so quickly, do your best to figure out what’s going on when you’re not around. It’s important to make sure that bad behavior whether it’s inside or outside of the home won’t go by unnoticed.
Being present when it comes to discipline doesn’t hurt your children it lets them know that you care and you’re helping them learn how to be a kind and responsible person.
PLAY!: Seriously, forget the laundry and dirty dishes and go play. Put down your phone, stop taking photos, stop overthinking, be present and enjoy every second for what it is.
FIND A WAY TO SHARE PERSONAL INTERESTS: It’s essential that we pay attention to the things our children enjoy so that we can strengthen communication and build a strong bond that will last a lifetime. Have you ever been to an event where you’re talking to someone who you share very little personal interests with? After a few comments back and forth the conversation gets awkward and then you’re searching for any out you can because the silence could kill- well children aren’t any different, ask any teenage parent. I mean, I was one of those teenagers.
When our children grow, they’ll develop their interests and quickly discover what makes them happiest. When we’re present and paying attention to what they like, we can learn how to be a part of it as well and forever be a part of something that always brings you back together.
SLOW THE PACE: Slow down. Learn to manage your time more efficiently, so you’re not running around trying to play catch up all the time. When you’re time is measured, and your priorities cared for, you can say “yes” more and “no” less.
Relax, focus, and slow your roll.
Start to change up your mindset and get back to your ultimate goals as a mother are and recognize that being present and enjoying time with your children can happen if you let it.
“As a mom you have to look at how much time you’re spending with your kids there is nothing you will regret more in your life -nothing- than not being present for your children.” Jamie Lee Curtis
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN HOW TO GROW & HEAL: We all make mistakes. Like I said, no one is perfect. Be the example that your children need when it comes to handling life’s many ups and down. Show them that even after a not so great moment, hours, a day, or even a week there’s always an opportunity for growth and healing.
The truth is, if anyone can use the term perfect to describe you, it would be your children. That’s because they love you for everything that you are right now. They can’t understand why you feel like you need to change nor do they see the ideas that you’re chasing in your head and comparing yourself too. All our children see, is us, and they love us exactly how we are. So take a page from their book and just be in the moment. You Momma, already have all that you need to be that mother you strive to be for you children: your love, attention, and time.