Admit it. If you’re a mom, you’ve thought or said or felt at one point that you’re a bad one. That you’re failing. That you’re doing something wrong.
It happens to all of us.
Let me just say that I love the movie Bad Moms. And I fully embrace the idea of being a bad mom that’s established in that movie.
Stop trying to be perfect. Stop signing your kids up for everything. Stop worrying so much about what the other parents think.
But it also sucks when you actually feel like you’re a bad mom.
It hurts your self-esteem.
And, honestly, it can hurt your relationship with your kids.
Your kids don’t want you to feel like you’re a bad mom.
So keep in mind…
You’re Not a Bad Mom If…
(Also remember that this list is not exhaustive…so give yourself a break even if your “mistake” isn’t on the list)
you need a break
If you’re a good mom, you’re supposed to love every minute with your kids, right?
You should never need a break. It should be smooth sailing all the time.
Nope. That’s not how it works at all.
Mamas, you need breaks from your kids! Yes, I know you want to soak it all in. You’ve heard time goes way too fast (it does) and you should enjoy it all.
But let’s be honest. You can only hear the same story so many times before you want to scream.
And how many times can you really watch that same TV show again?
And for the love. Why do the kids have to pick on each other and fight over the same stupid things all the time? Just ignore your sister when she’s trying to rile you up!
No one loves every minute of parenthood. It gets monotonous. You get annoyed. It’s okay.
And we need breaks!
You’re not a bad mom if you just have to step out for a minute.
You’re not a bad mom if you need a girl’s night out regularly.
You’re not a bad mom if you need a weekend away.
Breaks are good! They help you hit the reset button.
They’re necessary for your mental health.
They help you have more patience.
When you get back to your kids, you’ll feel refreshed. And you’ll be a lot more prepared to play mermaid Barbie hair salon school or whatever fun games your kids come up with next.
you lose your cool
Listen, I get it. Yelling at kids isn’t cool. You don’t want to be a total scream monster all day every day.
Trust me, it won’t get you anywhere with your kids. And if you’re always yelling, it loses its effectiveness.
But sometimes your kids might push you to the edge. And you might lose it.
And chances are you’ll feel like the worst mom on the planet after that happens.
But you’re not. You had a bad day. You had something stressing you out. You ignored the temper tantrum 99 times and the 100th time was your breaking point.
You’re not going to permanently scar your child if you lose your cool sometimes.
I’ve lost my temper with my kids at times. I mean, come one, you can only ask someone so many times to take the freaking dirty dishes out of their bedroom and to the kitchen before you lose it. (Real life when you’re raising teens.)
My kids aren’t afraid of me. They don’t have deep emotional scarring. They’re well-adjusted kids. I didn’t ruin them just because I had a real, human moment of being upset.
I really try to keep my cool. I don’t want to be the yelling parent. And I don’t lose my temper all that much (it’s a lot easier now that I have teens who understand consequences).
But when I do have a bad day or can’t keep my emotions under control, I try to take a step back and figure out what’s going on.
And I try to never blame my kids for me losing my temper. Saying things like, “If you would just behave I wouldn’t have to get mad at you,” probably won’t help the situation.
I always try to own up to my bad mood, especially if I overreact.
I’m all about admitting that I’m human to my kids. They need to know that it’s okay to get mad. But you also have to own up to that and deal with the fallout if you don’t handle your emotions well.
Sometimes I’ll explain what was going on if it’s relevant and something that I feel comfortable with the kids knowing. If I’m stressed about a writing project that isn’t going well or that’s due soon, I’ll tell them that.
Just know that if you lose your cool, you’re not a bad mom. It just might be a sign that you need some self-care or a break.
you let your kid have extra screen time
You went over the recommended screen time. Again. Like way over.
So now you’re feeling guilty because obviously your child is now ruined.
No, you don’t want a screen to raise your child. But some days? Some days you need your child to be occupied. Quietly. So you can keep your sanity.
I’m not saying plop your kid in front of a screen from morning until night.
But if you need to let your child play games on your phone to get through the grocery store without your sanity intact, you’re not a bad mom.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or have a headache or have a million things to do, you don’t have to feel like a horrible parent for turning on a movie.
In an ideal world, we would keep our kids engaged and learning and having fun without screens. But it’s not always that easy. And you’re not a bad parent for it.
you forgot about a party, dress-up day, etc
It’s a horrible feeling the moment you roll up to school or the ball field or daycare or wherever and realize you forgot something. The decorated Valentine box for today’s party. Dressing your kid up for some super random event in a really specific and annoying theme. Bringing snacks for the whole baseball team.
It sucks when you drop the ball. It feels like you won’t recover and you’ve just ruined your child’s entire childhood.
And in that moment your child might pile on the guilt.
But I can guarantee you’re not the only mom who has forgotten something.
The party will still go on.
The baseball team will survive.
Your child will somehow overcome the humiliation of not wearing mismatched socks while sporting crazy hair and a book-themed costume.
It doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you a real parent with approximately 5,448 things you have to remember at any given time.
you didn’t throw your kid a huge party
What’s that? You didn’t hire a caterer, set up a bounce house, fill your backyard with a petting zoo, and hand-deliver engraved invitations to your child’s first birthday party?
I’m guessing some parents spend about as much as I spent on my entire wedding for a single birthday party. And that’s great. For them. If that’s what they want.
But it’s okay to say no to the big parties. It’s okay to even say no to a bounce place party with friends.
You don’t show your love for your child based on how much you spend, how extravagant the party or how long the guest list.
When I was a kid, we always had our birthday parties at my grandparents’ house.
My aunts, uncles and cousins came. My mom made a homemade cake and put those little hard candy letters on top to spell out happy birthday. The kids played and entertained ourselves. The parents played poker later in the evening.
And I loved those parties. Some of my favorite memories are spending time with my family at my grandparents’ house.
You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing to give your child a memorable birthday. Stop beating yourself up if you can’t afford those big parties or just don’t want to spend the money on them.
You don’t make shaped pancakes for holidays
Pinterest is amazing. And also amazingly horrible.
It can inflate your sense of what you can handle. And it can make you feel like you should be doing more.
All of those other moms are making pancake art to coordinate with whatever obscure holiday it is today. Why aren’t you?
Other moms full-on decorate their homes for the last day of school. Why don’t you?
Other moms pack perfectly portioned homemade meals in bento boxes with sandwiches that look like cat faces and veggies cut into intricate roses. Why don’t you?
Other moms spend hours each night setting up intricate Elf on the Shelf scenarios while you’re left coming up with yet another excuse for why your elf hasn’t moved in 5 days. What’s wrong with you?
Hold on there, sister. I don’t know anyone in real life who does those things.
I mean maybe occasionally. But it’s not going to look like that Pinterest-perfect plate you’re seeing.
And even if you do have that one mom who always does everything picture perfect, why are you comparing yourself to her?
Your kids aren’t going to fail out of high school because you didn’t make them pancakes that look like bunny butts on Easter.
They’re not going to need years of therapy because they didn’t get balloon arches welcoming them home on their first day of school.
You won’t ruin the Christmas magic if the elf forgets to move a few nights in a row.
You don’t have to do it all! You don’t have to make every moment with your kids special and magical and over-the-top.
I bet they’ll remember your love and attention way more than they’ll remember those times you killed yourself to do some crazy themed experience.
you don’t make every meal from scratch
Do they know you by name at the McDonald’s drive-thru?
Does the local deli have your usual ready to go when you arrive even if you didn’t order ahead?
Are you the queen of heat-and-eat meals in the microwave?
Don’t sweat it, mama.
Your kids are fed. You’re sane. That’s what matters.
Now, I’m not advocating for fast food for every meal.
And fruits and veggies are very important.
But if you don’t grind fresh flour by hand to combine with the freshly laid eggs from your backyard chickens to make homemade pasta to toss with homemade sauce made from the tomatoes and herbs you grew in your backyard garden, you’re not failing. (And if you do all of that, hats off to you. Please tell me your secret.)
Yes, you want to feed your kids healthy meals.
Yes, you want them to develop healthy relationships with food.
But some days you also just want to get through the day. And that might involve serving a meal that’s less than 100% homemade.
And that’s okay!
(If you’re struggling to get dinner on the table, check out my tips for making dinner easier when you’re tired of cooking.)
you don’t love every moment of motherhood
Look, being a mom is hands down the BEST thing about my life. My kids are the most important thing to me. Nothing will change that.
I love being a mom.
But I don’t love every moment of motherhood.
There are some difficult things we deal with on a daily basis.
Endless diaper changes.
You don’t have to love everything about motherhood.
And even the moms who put forth their best Insta family facade don’t love every single moment. For real. Because the picture-perfect mama life isn’t real.
Just because you don’t love all the dirty work of parenting doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. It doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate your kids. It doesn’t mean you love them any less.
You’re Not a Bad Mom
So what’s the point? The point is, you don’t have to be perfect to be a good mom. Give yourself some grace.
Because if you’re constantly beating yourself up and feeling guilty for the things you do “wrong,” you’re missing out on a lot of great times with your kids. And last time I checked, feeling like crap for mistakes you make never really makes you a better person. It just leaves you feeling bad.
So keep improving. But don’t let the parenting slip-ups take away your parenting joys.