If you are reading this, you are a perfect mom or a dad.
P.S. I use the word mom loosely so it involves dads, step-moms or dads, foster parents, grandparents who dutifully tend to their kids.
Signs of a perfect mom
- House is a mess (even though you’ve just cleaned up the night before).
- Haven’t washed your hair for a week (busy playing catch up with kids’ schedule).
- Drink a glass of wine at 4:00 in the afternoon ( everyone at home is gnawing at you).
- Your toenails need a good scrub and polish, but who has that time?
- You can pass out by 8:00 pm standing.
- You catch up on your dose of showtime tv shows at carpool.
- French toast seems like an excellent dinner idea.
- You listen to Eminem on your headphones as you clean.
- You envy moms who are dressed head to toe and wonder why you are still in your sweat pants smelling of Clorox instead of Chanel.
- Add to this list… I am sure you have plenty to add to it.
The point here is we are moms. Rich or poor. Working or stay-at-home. Moms work hard. We want the best for our kids and our family. And we all want to be is a perfect mom. We all want our kids to know that. Then no matter what we do, why do we feel short? At least I do.
I have been a mother to two beautiful girls for ten years. The first three years, I was always sleep-deprived and hungry. Now I am just sleep-deprived. I raised these girls with very little family help since we didn’t have any living close by. When both my girls started school a few years ago, I was excited. Finally, I would have the time to work out and write. It didn’t happen. It’s almost ten years and I hadn’t written a word. I began to feel depressed. Then shame. Then guilt.
Last week, while I was giving my girls a bath, I wrote down on my tiny phone my job description as a mother. I am like a single mom with a great husband. My husband works long hours and travels frequently. My job description was long. At first, I casually wrote my list. Like grocery, laundry, activities then very naturally, it got serious. Here is my partial list…
- Spiritual Support/guide
- Financial manager
- Health manager
- Procurement manager
- Emotional support person
- Academic support person
- Physical activities coordinator
- Executive support to husband/kids
- Event planner
- Fashion Merchandiser
- Meal planner
- Budget planner
- Appointment Setter
- Community activity organizer
You get the idea. When I saw this long list and all that I have achieved or tried to do single-handedly, I realized it was a very daunting task. In our home, for health reasons, we try to eat organic and locally sourced food. That means I shop at three different places and spend hours in the kitchen. Just one job description of the many took me at least 15 hours of my week.
It got me thinking. A lifetime ago, I had managed my own company. If this was my company, I am the CEO what would I do. Yes, I would hire people. I can’t afford that. So I had to get creative. I started to search for mommy advice on blogs and books. I read on housekeeping and management. I wanted to get a handle on this. I tried to find time to write and work out while I kept my job as a full-time mom. Here are my insights, and I hope somewhere out there it helps one mom or a dad.
The first is to know that you are perfect. There are no annual reviews for us to assess our achievements. Our work is not quantifiable. If your child is kind to someone, give yourself a gold star. The external demand of this corporate commercial pressure to be perfect – trash it. Be your own. We live in a culture of shortage and shame. Whatever you do all day if your kids are alive and are in bed with a smile you’ve done your job. If your in-laws criticize the way, you raise your kids thank them. But in your head give them the middle finger and move on. You haven’t killed your kids today. (P.S. I have been blessed with great in-laws and are always very supportive)
Secondly, have a goal. For yourself. My goal is to write and walk every day. Still working on it but time management and productivity I found was vital to success. More on it later. I realized that I am never getting that time block for myself. Even if its 15 minutes I walk. If I a not healthy, this house will fall apart.
The remaining ideas/suggestions are an amalgam of many moms and dads whom I talked to.
- Wake up early to get your most creative work done.
- Meal planning is annoying but essential
- Pick a day for groceries. I shop for two weeks.
- Have a day for each meal that the kids get excited about. Ours is Taco nights on Tuesdays/Thursdays. Burgers on Saturday mornings. Bake cookies on Sunday. (incentive for cleaning)
- Make a box or place for snacks. Kids can easily pick out their own, or when you are on the run, you can quickly grab one for yourself.
- Make at least two good parent friends to rely on.
- Do a load of laundry every night.
- Clean up your kitchen every night. It truly helps to start the day on a positive note.
- Designate a day for each event/activity. I make all my appointments on Mondays. Grocery on Tuesday. Cook & Prep on Wednesday. Personal day on Thursdays. Volunteer on Fridays.
- Make a manageable cleaning schedule. On Sunday, I ask all the kids to pitch in for an hour. Every night I ask the girls to pick up. It helps you calmly start your day.
- Read every night with the kids. Create a quiet time. That way you get to catch up on your own reading too.
- Outsource help if you can afford one. Give up that fancy dinner and get a monthly house cleaner or whatever you need help with. I use Instacart and many online services.
- Have a reliable teenage baby sitter.
- Talk to a friend when you walk or clean. I set up phone appointments with my friends around my chores.
Please add any great ideas and send them to me. All moms have a few tricks that I could learn from.
The bottom line here is you are genuinely doing the best you can. You are amazing. Your flaws are human. Your strengths keep the ship afloat. Shame and shortage is a hindrance that gets in your way of being perfect.
Here is my trick to a perfect cocktail.
Always have a great gin or vodka on hand. And if you don’t drink alcohol, make fancy drinks for yourself with spritzers or sodas.
Lots of mints, freshly squeezed juice, oranges, cinnamon, ice, and tall glasses. I make fancy non-alcoholic drinks with kombucha or mango juice for the girls for their game nights. They think I am the best mom in the world.