I just finished interviewing a group of moms about the challenges of parenthood.  One of the questions I asked was, “Are you too hard on yourself?”  The feedback I received was pretty eye-opening!

Moms these days are constantly flooded with “helpful tips” to improve your looks, please your hubs, raise super-smart kids, and do it in a wheat-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free environment.  Virtually every mom I interviewed reported feeling pressure to know everything and to be “the perfect mom.”  In fact, I just read a BabyCenter article reporting that nearly 80% of millennial moms claim it’s important to be “the perfect mom.”

So, the consensus on “Are you hard on yourself” was an emphatic YES!  Today’s busy moms strive for perfection and balance in their life, while she juggles time with her kids, her partner, and herself… and then falls painfully short.

Are you too hard on yourself?

My goal today is to help you answer that question with a “no.”  Contrary to popular belief, your first task as a mom is to focus less on your children, your hubs, and being perfect, and focus more on taking excellent care of yourself.  Let me say that again, your first task is to focus less on your children and focus more on taking excellent care of yourself.  I know this sounds crazy because this type of parenting is counter-intuitive. But let’s be honest for a moment. When you are exhausted, you are not much help to anyone, especially your kids.

Yes, taking care of yourself and putting your needs before your kids can generate feelings of guilt, especially if you are too hard on yourself.  But here’s the bottom line:  if you don’t promote your true and authentic needs (like some alone time away from your kids so you can relax and feel human again), then you are likely to feel worn out, irritable, and lack the patience that you need to be a warm and patient parent.  So why are you too hard on yourself?  Thankfully, science can give us some clues.

Being too hard on yourself starts when that little voice inside your head lays out an exhaustive list of things that you “should” do for your children. For example:

You should always put your kids first.
You should sacrifice for the sake of your kids.
You should raise kids who are always happy.
You should meet all of the physical, emotional, and social needs of your kids.

Do any of these self-statements sound familiar?

If so, you are starting to fall into the trap of what the great American Psychologist Albert Ellis called “shoulding” on yourself.  Ellis taught us that those rigid and dogmatic beliefs (I should, I must, I’m supposed to, I have to) are irrational, unreasonable, and out of touch with reality. Yes, you may prefer, wish, want, or desire to do things for your children. But should? Not so much.

Truth be told, when you are too hard on yourself making a habit out of shoulding on yourself is sure to follow.  As a result, you will feel trapped, guilty, and miserable. Even more, telling yourself “you should, you must, you’re supposed to” will drain your energy, destroy your peace, and steal your joy!

A Point To Ponder

Don’t ever feel guilty or selfish about the need to take good care of yourself.  Start by identifying your basic needs (Hungry, lonely, or tired) and then promote those needs by asking for help, saying “no,” or stop trying to be all things to all people.


If you are too hard on yourself, if you ever struggle in this key area of parenting (self-care), then consider attending my next parenting seminar on Saturday March 18 from 1p.m.- 5p.m..  I’m excited to share more details in just a few days so stay tuned!


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Steve Cuffari

Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more affective. He is the founder of inTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today's parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive.         read more about Steve Cuffari here...

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