If you’ve read this blog this week you can tell I’ve been thinking a lot about why it is so important to put yourself before your kids. I believe that if you are a happy, full woman you are a better mom. And if you stop buying into the message that good mothers suffer for their children, and put their kids above all else, then you feel guilty. Guilty for, say, earning a living, or dating or exercising. Which is all bull.
I, too, struggle with this idea, but the more I lean into it, the easier it is to put myself first. And the more I put myself first, the more I see — plain-as-day — that my kids profit. Here are 3 recent examples:
1. I exercised. I try to sweat every day and Saturdays can be a challenge. That is the one weekend day I have with my children (they spend Saturday evening through Sunday evening with their dad) and I like to enjoy fun stuff with them on Saturdays. So instead of worry whether I could make it to a yoga class after I dropped them off, or whether it was too frigid to jog in the streets, last week I dragged them to the outdoor track at our local park, gave my 5-year-old an old iPod loaded with Disney tunes and told her: Go! Lucas, 3, kicked a soccer ball around the grass in the middle where I could keep an eye on them.
-I got in my work out and I was a happier mom for it.
-The kids got much-needed exercise.
-I set an example of good fitness habits.
-They were engaged in something I enjoy, but that the mostly see me doing from afar since I usually jog after I drop them at school.
-We all had guilt-free fun.
2. I read the paper. On Saturday mornings after I’ve whipped up chocolate chip pancakes or pigs in the blanket, I like to read the Sunday New York Times. I used to squelch that urge because I worried it took away from family time. But lately I’ve fired up the iPad, sat in my favorite glider and read to my heart’s content. My daughter asks to sit on my lap. I simply read aloud what I’m enjoying. One week it was an op-ed by a dad about monitoring his kids’ screen time. I was stunned a few days later when Helena suggested we borrow from the writer father’s policy of daily “quiet time” when the kids are allowed to play with a tablet or phone.
-My kids have to play by themselves. That is good for them. Parents constantly hovering and entertaining make for neurotic and needy children.
-My kids saw me engaging in a pursuit that I enjoy and find important. Then they organically found it enjoyable and important, too.
3. I worked when my kids were home. Last week I found myself on deadline and wrote in my office after they came home from school. I hardly ever do that, priding myself in being a fully engaged mom once I pick up my daughter at the bus stop. Instead of checkers, or running errands together, Helena and Lucas watched Cars.
-They saw their mom working. Because that is what adults do and that is normal. Then we had dinner and I told them about the story I wrote and they learned about business and about their mother.
-They learned: Sometimes life happens.
-They learned: It’s not all about them.
- Dear Dudes: Stop putting your kids first (wealthysinglemommy.com)
- I have a Madonna/Whore complex about being a working mom and you do, too. And that is OK. (wealthysinglemommy.com)
- I hug my kids too much because I’m lonely (wealthysinglemommy.com)
- I don’t live for my kids — and that is my biggest gift to them (wealthysinglemommy.com)
- Single moms need to get their fat asses in shape (wealthysinglemommy.com)
- On the single-mom to-do list: Hang out with adults (wealthysinglemommy.com)
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Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.