3 ways I was a selfish mom this week and my kids are better for it


selfish mommy

I am one selfish mother.


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.mom put self first .jpg

-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.



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Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, 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, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.

The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.

Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.

Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.

7 thoughts on “3 ways I was a selfish mom this week and my kids are better for it

  1. Emma, I have been enjoying the last two posts by you. As I work with hundreds of parents in my private practice, I always emphasize the importance of meeting one’s needs first (put your mask first). Children have needs and parents have needs. It is parents’ responsibility to meet their children’s needs (needs and wants are different) but it should never be the other way around (but as we know, unfortunately, it’s not always the case). By taking care of yourself, your needs and by nurturing yourself-you simply become an effective parent, and that’s what kids need. By doing so, you teach by example. Ultimately, it is our goal as parents to teach our kids to be able to meet their own needs by themselves. If we as parents fail to do so, we do not deliver a good lesson.

  2. Emma, I’ve been lurking by your blog for a while now. I’m a techie, and mom to a 5yr old. I had to just stop by and say how much I love your posts, and how much I relate to them. Keep it coming!

    Eariler I made my son, the husband, and running the house my priority. Over the last year or so, I’m reclaiming my space. Recently I started working from home at times. Now my son sees me glued to the laptop while he plays by himself. The other day he came and asked me “Mumma, what are you becoming? What are you making?” and I explained to him what I was working on… we both learnt a bit.

  3. YES! Do you know how many &(@#% therapy sessions it took for me to do those things?! I’m there now and not looking back-thanks for the post.

  4. I admit, I’m not the best at putting myself first. My boyfriend gets on me all the time to think about myself first because the kids are happier when mom is happier.. And it’s true. They can sense when I’m less stressed, which means things go much smoother around the house.

    1. Yes it works very fine on my page, but only after I disabled my Facebook likes you -pluginb4s.This is rellay a shame, because I would rather not do without

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