Is there a ‘right’ formula for motherhood? I think there is.
But don’t worry, it’s probably not what you think!
If you’re anything like me, you spend a good portion of your day wondering if you’re doing this whole motherhood thing right.
Then there are the books, our seemingly perfect mother friends, and post after post on Facebook – all telling us how we should parent.
Maybe we don’t need all of that.
The 5 Rules Of Being A Good Mother
The 5 rules of being a good mother are things every mama can do. They are things we all strive to do, but we might need a reminder every now and then.
This list is meant to empower and encourage you. It will remind you that you are a good mama!
Rule #1: Always Remember, You’re Enough!
Remembering you’re enough is vital to being a good mama, because then you can drop the worry and embrace how you mother your children.
“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one”
The best way to rock motherhood is to be ourselves. Sure, we must become more selfless, more organised, and more patient versions of ourselves, when we become mothers.
But we needn’t change what makes us unique to fit into some pre-cut mould of what mamas should be.
Maybe you’ll never be the Pinterest inspired mama, but you can give the best bear hugs around. Maybe you’ll never have time for the PTO activities, but you rock the silly voices during bedtime stories.
Or maybe you are the Pinterest inspired mama but the thought of wrangling 15 first graders for the holiday party is terrifying, so you send the cutest Rudolph cupcakes.
And as big as those things can seem, they’re very minor when it come to motherhood. They only feel big because they are what people see.
You – the mama hiding from your toddler who is suddenly obsessed with breastfeeding – you’re so enough!
And the mama with eyes watering from exhaustion, and wondering why your baby won’t sleep and what you’re doing wrong (nothing, by the way)… you’re enough!
Sometimes motherhood is joyous. Sometimes it’s really hard. No matter how you’re currently feeling, you are enough.
Still not convinced? Be sure to read Exhausted Mothers, You Are Enough because I promise, you really are enough.
Rule #2: Have Realistic Expectations For Yourself And Your Kids
Having realistic expectations is a must when it comes to being a good mother. Nothing sets you up for feeling down more than attempting to meet unachievable goals. If you measure your ability to mother using an unrealistic scale, you will never feel like a good mama.
Just had a baby and wondering why you can’t keep up with your housework? Can’t work out why you’re tired even though you’ve been camped on the couch breastfeeding all day?
You literally just grew a human being and now you are nourishing this little person. It makes complete sense you’re tired!
Why is the house crazy?
Because that little baby of yours is wired to be in your arms and demand your attention. This is normal. You are a good mama and you have a good baby, in touch with a baby’s normal biological needs.
Why does your three-year-old seem scared of everything? What did you do wrong that your toddler seems so insecure?
Why must your 11-year-old attempt to debate nearly everything you say? Did you drop the ball when it came to teaching your child to be respectful?
No. You did nothing wrong. So why do you feel bad about your children’s behaviour? Because so often we measure their behaviour and our ability to manage it based on unrealistic expectations.
Learn what is normal at each stage and how to best support your child in BellyBelly’s Quick Guide To Normal Behaviour For Babies, Kids And Teens.
Rule #3: Practise Self-Care
You can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t keep up with the needs of your children if you’re not meeting your own needs.
Does motherhood take sacrifice? Absolutely, yes. But it doesn’t and shouldn’t always be at the expense of your physical and mental wellbeing.
Motherhood requires resilience, but we can’t be resilient if we’re constantly depleted. So, how do we attain resilience?
We need everyday self-care and sometimes we need a ‘full-on break’ type of self-care.
Self-care will look different for everyone, but sometimes it looks like this:
- Prioritising good nutrition
- Taking time for personal interests
- Using aromatherapy in the midst of everyday child care
- Heading outside for a walk to reset even if baby is in tow
- Having a hot bath after baby’s bedtime
- Taking a solo day trip, or even a solo holiday.
There are many varying seasons of parenthood. Chances are, if you have a newborn you won’t be heading out for the solo day out, let alone a solo holiday, just yet. However, you still need to prioritise self-care, even if it only means a healthy meal and a five minute shower.
Not sure how to incorporate more self-care into your daily life? Check out What Is The Secret To Resilient Mamas? for more tips.
Rule #4: Prioritise A Healthy Parent-Child Attachment
The foundation of healthy parenthood, infancy, childhood and even adulthood is a healthy parent-child attachment. Prioritising a healthy attachment is an incredibly important part of motherhood.
While attachment parenting is a popular method of facilitating a healthy attachment, I’m not talking about a parenting style.
A healthy parent-child attachment isn’t a specific parenting style or method; it’s about laying the foundation for a healthy emotional relationship between child and caregiver.
A healthy attachment is important because it’s the foundation for:
- A healthy self-awareness for the child
- An eagerness to learn
- Developing consideration for others
- Developing the skills for healthy interpersonal relationships.
You might be surprised to learn research has shown more than 40% of US children lacked a healthy attachment with their primary caregiver.
Developing a healthy attachment begins at birth. It doesn’t end there, of course. The first year of life is a vital time for establishing a healthy bond. And as time goes on, it’s important to continue to strengthen that bond.
Prioritising a healthy bond supports all other areas of parenting, including mental health (for both you and your child), physical health, growth and development, education, and more.
Motherhood isn’t easy, but a developing a healthy bond can make it easier.
Want to know more about continuing to develop a healthy bond as your baby becomes a child? Read 25 Ways To Cherish Your Children for ideas.
Rule #5: Trust Your Instincts
If you take away just one rule after reading this list, then ‘trust your instincts’ is the most important one. Why? Because our bodies, our children, and those unexpected life events didn’t read the books.
“Her intuition was her favorite superpower”
From the moment you find out a child is entering your life, you will be bombarded with conflicting information and advice.
There are many aspects of parenthood on which even the experts don’t agree. Sometimes we feel fortunate to live in a time where evidence is sought and explained. At other times, these things seem to interfere drastically with trusting our own instincts.
Be a responsible parent and make informed decisions. There’s definitely a role in motherhood for evidence, but it’s vital you begin to trust and follow your own instincts.
If someone tells you you’re spoiling your newborn, but every fibre of your being wants to snuggle and feed that sweet baby to sleep, that’s instinct. And evidence tells us that instinct is biologically normal, healthy and vital for fostering a healthy attachment.
Research supports listening to mothers’ concerns. It can reduce the risk of stillbirth in some cases. Our intuition is powerful, and we can be our best by trusting it.
Your unique parenting style, your personality and your lifestyle don’t need to fit into a pre-cut mould for you to be a good mother. The real rules for being a good mother are finding confidence in yourself, trusting your instincts, and knowing what is normal for you and your children.
Please know, you are a good mother – whether you’re having a good day or a bad one. Even if your children seem to be running crazy (remember, this can also be normal), and even if your baby seems to be waking every two hours (again, normal).
If you’re in a rough patch and you’re not convinced, please read Dear Mama Just Surviving, This Won’t Last Forever as another reminder you’re doing a great job.