Whether you’re a new parent or seasoned pro, bad mommy habits can be easy to pick up and all too tough to break. Neglecting yourself for the sake of your kids, blaming your partner when things go wrong, letting your DS or DD get way too much of the UH (that’s upper-hand to you and me)…sound familiar?
Be mindful of these seven common mommy traps, so you can skirt them before you get snared.
“Just one more cookie/story/TV show/minute on the computer, etc.” Start bargaining over these pleas (and their implied threats—”Let me have what I want, and I won’t scream, cry or otherwise upset or publicly embarrass you”), and you’ll soon find the tables turned, and yourself on the begging side. Negotiating is for international peace treaties. When it comes your kids, set limits and stick to them, for everyone’s benefit.
It’s dinnertime and the special requests are flooding in. “No green.” “Just cheese and butter.” “Mushrooms? Ew!” There’s nothing more exhausting than trying to cater to each child’s (and, occasionally, a picky partner’s) individual food demands. Cooking four different meals for four different mouths can also be expensive and wasteful. Instead, each week let each family member pick one evening’s main course, and everyone can eat it together at one harmonious meal.
Neglecting your needs
Whether it’s new clothes that fit your post-pregnancy body, a haircut, time for the gym or time with your partner, there’s probably something—probably LOTS of things—you need, and simply don’t get now that you’re a mommy. Neglecting your own needs, though, can lead to depression and resentment. Show yourself and your family how much respect and appreciation you deserve by respecting and appreciating yourself.
Playing the blame game
When your child walks into an open cabinet door or Sharpies a mural on the living room wall, it’s hard to fight the impulse to lay blame on your better half. But fight it you should. Your partner undoubtedly feels bad enough already, and your blame, especially in the heat of frustration and/or concern for your child, will only make matters worse. Plus, it’s more than likely that the next time your little one uses your great-grandmother’s silk pillowcase for an art canvas, it’ll be you who left the long-wear lipstick unattended. Touché.
When it comes to parenting, there’s always going to be someone who seems to be handling a situation better—more patiently, less loudly, more rationally—than you. And it’s fine to learn from another mom’s example, as long as you don’t judge yourself harshly based on what she does. Just remember that every parent is different, every child is unique in temperament and needs, and, frankly, you’re just getting a glimpse of someone else’s parenting, not the whole picture.
Sacrificing social time
These days, it might seem like you need an alignment of the planets just to get a few hours out with your friends. Despite the extra effort, social time with your friends—whether a relaxing lunch, chi-chi cocktails, or a side-by-side spa pedi—is more important now than ever. The experience gives you the chance to unwind and connect with people who nourish your mind and soul. And it lets you be just plain you for a while, rather than somebody’s mommy. Which, ultimately, can make you a happier, healthier, better mommy in the end.
Striving for Supermom status
Working (either outside your home or in it), raising children, being a good partner, being a good friend…being a mom is a huge job as it is without baking homemade Snickerdoodles every afternoon and hand-stenciling the nursery walls. Nobody’s going to love you more if you prove you can do it all. And even if they did, you’d be too tired to notice. So cut yourself some slack: You automatically became a superhero the day you became a mom.