You love your children more than anyone could possibly imagine and you would do just about anything for them.
You already do so much to put your kids first every single day, yet you probably feel guilty that you don’t do more.
- You work hard to plan and make nutritious food, which they promptly reject and make you wonder why you bother.
- You’re “mean” because you don’t let your preschooler wear the same shirt four days in a row.
- You kiss boo boos and soothe fevers.
- You (try to) tackle the never ending battle of cleaning and dishes and laundry.
- You read stories and tuck your little munchkins into bed.
- You bathe and scrub behind ears.
- You change diapers and potty train.
- You breastfeed or bottle feed (or maybe both.)
- You take your children to the doctor, specialist, or therapist appointments.
- There are school drop-offs and pick-ups and afternoon and evening activities.
- You work full time or part time. You work from home. Or you stay at home, which doesn’t mean you do anything less.
- You help with homework and read out loud more books than you could ever count.
- You deal with whining and fighting and drama.
- You kiss away the tears when your child is bullied.
That’s just a handful of the many things you do every day. In fact, you juggle and balance so much, it’s a wonder you have any sanity left at all!
You, dear mom, put your heart and soul into raising your children.
You know you’re only human. You can’t do everything, and certainly not all perfectly, but you still worry that you’re not a good enough mother.
Then you see quotes and memes shared all over social media and the internet.
“Motherhood is a choice you make every day to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own..”
“The moment you created a human being was the moment you chose to spend the rest of your life putting somebody else before yourself.”
“Anyone can have a child and call themselves ‘a parent.’ A real parent is someone who puts that child above their own selfish needs and wants.”
“Love is putting someone else’s needs before your own.”
“When you’re a good parent, your children always come first.”
The recurring theme is just like the last quote says: Good moms put their kids first.
End of story.
Or is it?
You see, Dear Mom who is guilted into “putting your kids first”, I beg to differ with those so-called quotes.
Since when is it selfish to take care of your own needs?!
Since when is it wrong to tell your child “no?”
I call bull.
What if you considered not putting your kids first for a change?
I quit putting my kids first and my life began to turn around.
There are two interesting benefits to NOT putting your children first.
1. You can prioritize other important things.
“But what could possibly be more important than my children?” you ask.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever prioritize your kids; they are and always will be one of your top priorities.
But your children shouldn’t be your only focus and priority, especially when it comes at the expense of other things, like your marriage, your health and sanity, and the overall well-being of your whole family.
How many marriages have fallen apart because life was all about the kids and not enough time was invested in one another?
Yes, it is okay to leave your kids with grandma or a babysitter so you can go on a date night. Little Joey may cry and want Mommy, but he will survive!
This also includes you! It’s very common to feel like taking time for yourself is selfish, but let’s get one thing straight: it’s not!
If you constantly do and take care of others, including your kids, and don’t give yourself time to recharge and rest, you will burn yourself out. There’s just no getting around it.
When you take care of yourself, you’re likely to be happier, healthier, less stressed, and better able to deal with life.
By investing in yourself, you are investing in your family too, including your children.
2. You’ll teach your kids to have an awareness of others.
Between the elaborate birthday parties, endless sports and activities, and so much catered to kids these days, it’s quite common for children to think the world revolves around them.
They don’t see the sacrifices you make for them day after day. Often they will never fully understand or appreciate what you do until they are grown and become parents themselves.
You can’t do much about that. But you can teach your children to think about others. One of the simplest ways to do this is to not always put your kids first.
It’s important and good for your kids to realize that they cannot have or do everything. Maybe that new after school activity is simply not right for your child or you already have too many things on the calendar. Maybe you don’t have the money.
Yes, it may not seem “fair” (and you will hear that from your kids, especially if this is new to you and them), but it’s part of life.
And just like the lesson of “the world does not revolve around you”, “life is not fair” is a lesson better learned when they are young, then when they are grown and life throws them a harsh reality check.
Where’s the line between selfishness and balance?
Let me make this clear; I am not condoning neglect of children. As parents, it is our job and privilege to care for, nurture, and love them. There are clear examples of mothers who neglect their children in order to do what they want.
But for the majority of mothers – you included – you do care for your children deeply and simply need more balance in life. There is not always an obvious “right” or “wrong” answer when it comes to balancing your life as a mother.
Is it selfish to leave a sick child with dad on your much anticipated and deserved night out with your girlfriends?
Perhaps it was recommended that your child begins ABA therapy, but you’ve learned the expense will be enormous and the time involved impossible to fit into your schedule.
If you’re struggling with what to do, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- What are the pros and cons of this decision?
- Will this decision have a negative effect on my child? (A little occasional discomfort is different and not always the worst thing.)
- How will this affect my child?
- How will this affect me and the rest of my family? (sometimes something may be wonderful for your individual child, but it does not work for the rest of the family.)
Since I began to recognize those guilt-inducing ‘quotes’ for what they truly are – lies – my life is so different.
I’m not a perfect mom by any means, but I know I am doing a better, more balanced job than before when I used to think I was a horrible mother for not putting my kids first all the time. Since making this simple mindset change, I am happier and my children are happier too!
Dear Mom, it’s okay to not always put your kids first. It might just be one of the best things you can do!