As soon as Cal was born, and life got even more nuts than I thought possible, it was hard some days to think that I was doing a good job as a mother. Self-doubt, you are relentless.
Then, I decided that that is nonsense and the way to fix it was to think about the good things. This led to me giving myself an award every day. This award is similar to Michael Scott giving me a Dundie in that it’s pretty easy to earn most days. (If you don’t know what a Dundie is: A. We can’t be friends, and B. It’s a reference from one of my favorite TV shows on the planet, The Office). My award is called Mother of the Year. And like I said, I try to give it to myself every day because chances are, I’ve either done at least one thing that ACTUALLY earns me Mother of the Year, or I facetiously award it to myself on a day where we all barely survived by the skin of our teeth.
So how can you become Mother of the Year too?
- Count EVERYTHING: This is the first thing I started doing to get in the habit. Follow me on this one. Ketchup is made from tomatoes. Tomatoes are a fruit. Josie ate 7 gallons of ketchup with a spoon for dinner. Boom. Mother of the Year.
- Kids to bed early: Two wins here. Your kid wins with lots of great sleep. Josie is almost 3 and still goes to bed at 7pm, and sleeps until 7am. Girl goes hard during the day and needs her rest. (She also still naps, FYI). Cal is on the same schedule. Both kids are growing and restoring their bodies for 12 hours each night. And guess what mom is doing? Hopefully not growing, but definitely restoring my mind and body. When the kids go to bed, magic and miracles abound. Even if that means I’m folding laundry on the couch while watching Netflix. I’m winning. Kids are winning. Boom. Mother of the Year.
- Keep the schedule: I’m a BIG schedule person. A planner. A Babywise Mom if you’re in the mom circles. That means I wake Cal up every morning at 7 for his first feeding so we can keep on schedule and know what to expect from our day…well, as much as you can know what to expect with a newborn and a toddler. And I make plans around the schedule, for my sanity. And keeping my sanity means…you guessed it! Boom. Mother of the Year.
- Break the schedule: Well now that’s just confusing. But seriously. Breaking the schedule for GREAT reasons is the reason you have a schedule in the first place. A few weeks ago Josie stayed up until midnight. But it was so she could go to her first theatre experience, Beauty and the Beast. It was worth EVERY MINUTE! To see her enthralled in the music and story was a gift to me. And a gift I had to keep reopening as the next day and for a few days after the sleeplessness got to her and she lost her ever-loving mind on several occasions. Making memories. Boom. Mother of the Year.
- Self-Care: Guys, obviously I preach this, and try to practice this as well. But any time during the day that I do something for myself – even something as necessary and elusive as taking a shower – I call it self-care. And I call it a win. Boom. Mother of the Year.
- Adios Mom Guilt: This is a topic I want to tread very lightly into, because it is such a real thing for most moms. But not for me. I decided a long time ago that I had too many other things that demand my emotional and intellectual capacity that I would not subscribe to Mom Guilt. And I haven’t. If a guilty thought comes my way, I dismiss it immediately. I’m a great mom. I’m doing my best. Boom. Mother of the Year.
- Invest in relationships: Although lately these have been few and far between, Ryan and I still do date nights. Our goal is to sit in the same room, relatively undistracted, with each other one night a week. Sometimes we talk and plan and dream. Sometimes we watch Netflix and he falls asleep. And then when we can, we go out on real dates. And those are solid gold. And marriage isn’t the only relationship I’m investing in. Obviously we love spending time with our families, and I also still keep my standing Monday night with my Monday Night Girls to watch The Bachelor(ette). And I schedule play dates and coffee dates and girls’ weekends with Mom friends. I’ve got a wide circle of people who continue to know me and love me. Boom. Mother of the Year.
- Hone your Mom hands: Oh my gosh, this is my new favorite skill. I think the instant you become a mother, out of instinct or necessity you are able to see a glass fall a split second before it slips out of your kid’s hand and catch it. I seriously can’t count the times that I’ve saved the day with my Mom hands. Plus, I’ve also mastered several other skills while only using one hand – like making a PBJ sandwich while holding a baby. One-handed people. I dare you. Boom. Mother of the Year.
- Use the TV: For the first couple years of Josie’s life I was very adamant about NO TV. I’ve read lots of studies about limiting it for kids of all ages, but especially for kids under 2. So I did. But now, partly for my sanity and partly because it’s awesome, Daniel Tiger is teaching my kid things I wouldn’t have thought to teach….and teaching it in song. Brilliant! He’s got a song about everything from potty-training to sharing to saying goodbye to mom and dad at school. My personal favorite, which DOES NOT work in the heat of the toddler meltdown, is singing, “Mad, mad, mad. It helps to say I’m mad.” Boom. Mother of the Year.
- Stop over-thinking: Classic woman problem. Classic mom problem. But we were given women’s intuition for this very reason. Problem with your kid? You probably already know the right answer. Check your gut, and move forward. And if that turns out not to be the fix, cool, try something else. But to stand paralyzed (usually in front of the computer pouring over mommy forums) thinking through every single possible solution is exhausting and debilitating. I’m trying to do this less. Boom. Mother of the Year.
So what about you? I’m sure you would be Mother of the Year too if you even thought to give yourself this award! And if I earn it 3 days a week for counting ketchup as a serving of fruits and vegetables, then I just know you deserve it too. You’re doing great. And keep telling yourself that.