Defining Success as a Mom

Moms don’t earn a paycheck, a promotion or an award for their work – so how do you know if you’re getting it right?

Author Connie Sokol suggests how to define success, as a mom.

How do you define success as a mom? Every woman might define it differently. For one, it’s seeing her daughter go to college. For another, it’s just trying to get her toddler daughter from acting up in public. And even if you wake up feeling successful, you go outside and see the kids didn’t put garbage away and it starts all over the driveway, again.

In the book “Families Who Laugh,” author Janene Wolsey Badsgaard shares an experience many moms will relate to. One day, her child’s teacher sent a note home saying: “Please fully dress your child when he comes to school.” Janene sent back a note saying: “He’s fully dressed when he’s leaves my house. What does he look like when he gets there?”

That story prompts perhaps an even more important question: what makes us feel unsuccessful?

When kids don’t choose as we hoped, we need to remember they are learning – which mean they will make mistakes. We simply encourage them to learn from those mistakes, and stand back and see what they do with a situation – rather than bear down on them for not doing it right. Which means, we can only define success by what we can control, as parents.

The most ideal ways to define success are those that don’t rely on outer variables. Success is not technically based on how our children turn out. Yes, often our children will turn out well if we’ve done a good job – but not always. I know parents who are fabulous and have wayward struggling kids. Kids have choice, and they’ll use it. And then there are parents who are borderline neglect, but their kids turn out great. Success, truly, is more about what we have individually brought to the table as parents.

As I thought about how to define success as a mother, six questions came to mind:

1. Have I done my best to teach and exemplify core principles and practices?
I’m not perfect at this, not a chance. I’m learning and changing, too. But generally speaking, things like putting what’s best for the family before what’s convenient or ideal is something I try to do. Have I taught my children solid emotional, spiritual, physical, financial, principles and practices? Am I living those values as best as I can? Again, it’s not about living perfectly. It’s about sharing what I’m learning along the way.

2. Am I preparing them for real life?
It’s an easy trap to fall into: keeping your kids from hard lessons that will help them grow up. In this day and age, research shows one out of ten young adults ages 16-25 are struggling with how to cope with life, including handle problems, anxiety, and rejection. We can’t make things too easy, or too convenient.

3. Am I enjoying motherhood?
As moms, we have to keep perspective, prioritize and enjoy! Try to budget one-on-one time with each child. Pow-wow at the beginning of each day and plan a routine…but work in a little fun! Success to me is how much I’m enjoying the process.

4. Am I showing I love them?
Giving them a simple compliment can go so far; telling your child something great about their personality, or praising an accomplishment will lift them in an instant. Try taking just five-seconds to share a compliment, and sprinkle those five second compliments throughout the day.

5. Am I disciplining with kindness?
Not hardly. But if I stop and redo, I feel successful.

6. Am I a better mother today?
This speaks to progress – am I a better mother than I was last week, or last month, or five years ago? If I’m real with my kids about my growth (just like I am about theirs), I feel like they get the concept that it’s a process, and we just keep doing our best, and laughing along the way. That makes me feel like I’m becoming a better mother all the time.

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