The number one request I get from clients is “how do I become a better mother?”
And while there’s no one-size-fits-all (and at times certain values will conflict), there is a way of thinking about motherhood differently that can lead to a much more empowering experience for you and your family.
That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best ways to be a better mother based on my professional experience working with thousands of moms, helping them grow into the very best versions of themselves.
How To Be A Better Mom
Below is a list of the top 21 ways of becoming the best version of yourself that you can be, as a mom.
1. Let go of being an “amazing mom”.
The most toxic thought I hear from moms is “I just want to be a better mom.”
This thought seems lovely at first glance, but the truth is that this thought creates a lot of pain because it compares human moms (who naturally make mistakes) to some unobtainable standard of a “perfect mom”.
Instead, I say become the “World’s okayest mom.” Yes, you’ll try to do better, but also you won’t beat yourself up for falling short. You’ll always be half amazing and half mess, and that’s how it’s supposed to be.
P.s. I have this on a shirt—see it here on Instagram.
2. Pre-plan self-care.
If you wait until you need time away from your family, it becomes an “escape.” However, if you plan your self-care ahead of time, it becomes a positive experience.
So, instead of waiting until you desperately need some time away, make it a point to plan your favorite type of self care.
This could be daily journaling or a night out with the girls or anything in between. The point is that it’s a way for you to take care of you (so it should energize you).
3. Play in their world once per day.
One of the best ways to connect with your kids is to be distraction free, in their world. This means putting your phone away, getting on the floor, and being in their world.
This doesn’t have to be for hours upon hours every day. Fifteen minutes here and there can make all the difference.
4. Stop saying “you hurt mommy’s feelings.”
When you say something like this, you blame your kids for your feelings. This not only disempowers you and them, it also isn’t how feelings work.
You create your feelings by what you’re thinking. Thoughts create feelings. Your kid’s actions can never create your feelings—they’re not that powerful (thank goodness!).
5. Think of yourself as the watcher of their movie.
Many of the moms I coach have movies playing in their minds of how their kids should act. They have visions of who their child should become that is completely made up based on their own desires.
Instead of doing it this way (which creates a lot of control and separation), think of your kids as having their own movies, that you’re the watcher of. They’re the leading stars of their own movies. You’re the mentor, teacher, or guide. You don’t know what’s going to happen for sure but you can certainly help them forward.
This releases control and instead allows kids to become who they want to be (which of course they will do anyways).
6. Start with respect no matter how old they are.
Seeing your child as a human, with whom you respect will change the way you parent forever. This sounds obvious, but it’s often a lot harder to do in practice because (as we all know) babies and kids don’t have fully developed brains, so there are many times when we, as parents, “know better” and that can come across in a way where we don’t see our kids, and they don’t feel respected.
Respect doesn’t mean yes, either. You can have expectations and consequences and still respect your child through the process
7. Hold yourself accountable to your own expectations.
When you have expectations (i.e. rules) and your kids don’t follow them, what do you expect of yourself?
Sometimes kids don’t follow the rules (no surprises here). As the parent, it’s important to know what you expect of yourself in those moments.
My suggestion is to have a plan for how you’ll follow through with the consequence. And then only create expectations and consequences that you’ll actually follow through with.
Part of your job as a parent is to hold yourself accountable for holding your kids accountable. So, if you don’t want to have to be accountable to too much, consider fewer expectations to make your job easier.
8. Separate actions from feelings.
Most people (even adults) equate feelings and actions as one in the same. “I was so mad that I went over and told her off,” someone says. And yet being mad is a feeling you experience in your body. “Telling someone off” is an action (or reaction in this case) to what you’re feeling.
Behind every action is a feeling. Behind every misbehavior is a negative emotion. If your child hits, that’s the action. Behind that action is a negative emotion (examples: anger, frustration, sadness, etc.).
If you can teach your kids the difference between feelings and actions, you’ll not only make their lives easier now, but you’ll set them up for success longterm because there’s no place in time where they’re done with “mad”—feelings are forever.
9. Embrace and encourage all feelings.
While all actions are not okay, all feelings are. There’s no feeling that should be avoided, even the hard feelings.
The key is to welcome and encourage all feelings, including the challenging ones, while having expectations around behavior.
For example, it’s okay to feel really mad but it’s not okay to hit or name call. The feeling is welcome. The action is not.
In Grow You, I teach a course on how to teach your kids about thoughts and feelings, which is exactly what you’ll want to do, so your kids learn how to process feelings without reacting to them.
10. Restore the relationship when you make a mistake.
Instead of trying to be the “perfect” mom and ignoring when you make a mistake, acknowledge your shortcomings, give yourself compassion, and communicate with your child when they happen. This leads to repairing the relationship.
Compassion + communication = restored relationship.
11. Be direct about the other roles you have outside of being a mom.
When mom guilt creeps in, instead of ignoring it and avoiding talking about it with your child, face it head on, with honest, open communication.
When your child says, “but I don’t want you to go! I want to come with you!” tell your child that you love being his mom and you will be back after your dinner, but you also have other roles that you love, too, like being a friend. This helps normalize leaving the house without any avoidance or guilt.
12. Don’t try to fix their feelings.
As hard as this one is for the mamas with big hearts, letting kids feel their negative emotions serves them so well longterm. Why? Because there’s no point in the future where they’re “done” with anger or sadness or disappointment. So if they learn how to feel negative feelings at home when they’re young, they’ll be better prepared for their lives.
This doesn’t mean help them avoid their feelings. It means you sit with them in the pain of their negative emotions. “I see this is hard for you. How are you feeling? I’m here for you.” (Obviously, adjust based on the age.)
13. Create traditions.
Traditions are powerful because they create consistent memories for everyone in your family. They can be big or small, it’s that they’re meaningful that’s important.
For example, growing up I got a new ornament from my parents on Christmas Eve. This is something small and memorable that I think back on fondly.
Spend a little bit of time thoughtfully creating traditions that you want to create for your family—you won’t regret it!
14. Reward character more than achievement.
More than achievement, focus on character, which is always something within your kids’ control. This means that as much as you praise doing homework and getting good grades, you should praise being kind, thoughtful, and considerate even more.
Start to point out and notice when your kids exemplify good character and make it a big deal to celebrate. This teaches kids that their character matters and is important to develop.
15. Prioritize loving your spouse or partner.
When you prioritize loving your spouse or partner you show your kids what a healthy, loving partnership can be like. In this way, the love you have in your marriage can be a positive example for your kids to see and use as a model as they become adults.
16. Outsource household responsibilities.
As a mom, you likely are “house manager”, too (at least that’s what I like to call myself!). This means, you’re in charge of many of the household chores, like cleaning, laundry, and preparing meals.
If you find yourself short on time, one of the best ways to solve this is to hire out some of your responsibilities, so you can buy back some of your time. You don’t have to hire everything out, but give yourself permission to start with at least something and test it out to see whether it’s helpful. You’ll be surprised how doable it really is once you give it a shot.
17. Prioritize fun and play.
With so much going on (and a never ending to-do list), it can feel like there’s not room for fun and play. To overcome the tendency to be serious all the time, make fun a priority every day. It may be something you schedule in, or if you’re more laid back, you may take to it naturally. Just remind yourself that play is important, that there’s no right or wrong way to do it, and that you can let loose, regardless of what’s left “undone” for the day. Your kids will love this, and you might, too!
18. Set the tone and culture for your home on purpose.
I like to think of myself as Chief Culture Officer (COO) of my home. While I can’t control how everyone else feels, I can “set the tone” as head of the home, in the same way leadership at a company sets the culture.
This doesn’t mean I’m always happy or everything is always perfect. It just means on most days, I’m showing up with a positive mindset, I’m open and supportive, and I show respect to everyone. For you, it may be different.
Think of what you want the culture of your home to be and how you can exemplify those traits.
- Related: How To Stop Yelling At Your Kids (podcast)
19. Create family values and live by them.
We all have values we live by, even if they’re not articulated. For example, someone who is a high achiever may accomplish things exceptionally well and live by the value of a “commitment to excellence.” One of my mentors has a value of “let this be fun.” So, values can be anything, but it’s important to note they’re not what you want them to be. They’re what they already are.
A few examples of common family values are:
- Work hard, play hard
- Take responsibility
- Always try your best
- Be kind
- Failures are a good thing
- Education is important
- Pursue individual interests, while still prioritizing family
- Give everyone the benefit of the doubt
Think about the values you live by and that your family lives by and write them down so you can all create a team environment, where you’re connected through your values.
20. Let your kids have big feelings.
One of the most important jobs we have as moms is to let (and encourage) our kids have big feelings.
This is easier said than done. When we see our child hurting (e.g.: feeling sadness, loneliness, disappointment, frustration, etc.), it’s human nature to want to “fix it” but in so doing, we teach them that negative emotions aren’t okay.
This is why your own emotional growth is so important—when you model “big feelings are okay” it’s easier for your kids to believe it’s true. (this is the work we do inside Grow You, my mindfulness community for moms).
21. Help them see that they create their own results.
All your results are created by your mindset.
For example, if you’re a teacher, you first had to have the thought “I think I’ll go to school to become a teacher.” Then you went about doing all the things needed to be a teacher and those actions resulted in becoming a teacher.
One of the best ways we can empower our kids to lead amazing lives, with whatever that means to them, is to encourage them through the lens of “you can do anything you truly want to do.” If you believe this for yourself, it will be a lot easier.
It doesn’t mean you ignore challenges, but instead say that if you keep going on whatever path you feel called toward, you will create your dreams.
A Final Note!
The best advice I have to give you when it comes to being a better mother is to give yourself grace and compassion. You can do all the things on this list, and you’ll still be a human, which means you’ll still make mistakes—and that’s okay; that’s how it’s supposed to be. From a place of love and acceptance you can become the mom you were made to be.