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In the age of Scary Mommy, where women are owning up to ignoring the five-second rule, sobbing in the shower about their lives and doing anything but having sex with their partner, “bad” mothering is getting a bad rep.

Why your selfishness is good for your kids

It’s OK to put yourself first. Stop reading the celeb mags about how these gazillionaires have it all together (they also have nannies and — most importantly — night nurses) and focus on your own life.

It’s OK not to play with your child every time it’s demanded, it’s OK to have a bad day, it’s OK to go to work. Motherhood can sometimes feel like a permanent guilt trip. It’s time to stop judging yourself so you can truly live, enjoy your child and love your daily life instead of feeling like you’re never doing quite enough. The thing to worry about is whether you’re truly doing enough for yourself.

Get some mom perspective

As a mother, you are the heart of your family — food, comfort, creativity and love revolve around you. That’s a lot of pressure. And as soon as you start to “slip” you can feel like a bad mother. If you’re feeling like your tenuous collection of spinning plates is about to come crashing down, that’s the sign that it’s time to check out and regroup, even when you feel like you have no time to spare. “To be a good mother, you say, ‘I am worth it, and so is my sanity,’” says Rose, mother of four. “We have to be half-sane anyway to keep up with our children in this fast-paced world. Be a mother, not an entertainer!”

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Recruit your partner

“We don’t have a problem being selfish,” says Kim, a mom of three who enjoys the occasional girls’ weekend. “You need that time to yourself to be a better parent. I just wish we could spend more time as a couple.” There is zero selfishness in admitting that time alone with your partner is one of your needs. Ask for what you need. No one can read your mind, especially not with the million thoughts constantly rolling around in there!

Free your moods

How often do you allow yourself to have a bad day? Probably not often enough since it’s true for many moms that if they’re in a horrible mood, the kids will follow suit. (And the only thing worse than suffering through your own bad mood is feeling guilty for causing your child’s orneriness.)

"Your kids are allowed to know that sometimes you cry or are unhappy."

So we stuff emotions down, we paste on a smile, we forge ahead at warp speed. And we slowly deteriorate in the process.

Your kids are allowed to know that sometimes you cry or are unhappy. But you don’t have to take your moods out on them. So when you’re feeling like you’re ready to blow and give new meaning to bad mothering, leave the room or turn on the TV or iPad for five minutes. And, as soon as possible, carve out some serious alone time for yourself. Chances are, the people who know you best will be more than happy to give you space so they can get back the woman they know and love.

Determine your priorities

Your kids are tops on the priority list, right? But you’re a close second, if not tied for first. You can’t be the mom you want to be if you feel like you’re missing something, if you’re with your kids but constantly thinking about what you’re not getting done. Who’s putting this pressure on you to finish the dishes, be in perfect shape, check your work email after hours and so on? The truth is, you cannot have it all, at least not all at once. You’ll feel more in control of your life if you’re the one to decide where and when something has to give.

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You can find yourself again

With two girls and a job she loved, Gina spent all of her waking hours on both. “It took me a long time to realize that I had to make time for myself… almost eight years.” After encouragement from her own mother and her husband, she ticked one item off the bucket list — and went on a New Kids on the Block Cruise, completely solo and feeling completely liberated. “I had taken my daughter (of course!) to a concert and it reignited my teenage obsession with the band.” But how does one leave their family and go off on a whimsy? “The fact that my own mom told me to ‘just go’ sealed the deal. Knowing that I had finally found myself again, that I was no longer suppressing my desire to be ‘me’ was incredible.”

This trip kicked off a new way of life for Gina who now schedules in friends, exercise and down time. “It's made me a better mom. Knowing that I will have down time in sight gives me a sense of peace and increased patience to make the most of every moment we spend together. Oh, and I'm going on the cruise again this May. Mommy needs a recharge!”

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Comments

Comments on "Embrace the art of “bad” mothering"

Tiffany March 18, 2013 | 7:43 PM

This was perfect for me to read. Just today I was feeling guilty over leaving my daughter in her crib for an hour to fall asleep while I worked (she wasn't crying, just quietly playing yet I still felt guilty). Mom guilt can definitely get the best of you. I need to remember it's OK (and impossible) not to be the perfect mom all the time.

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