Is That What a Good Mom Is?

That sounds right, right?

If you are a good parent, you always put your kids first.

Simple logic.

But I don’t agree.

I think it’s wrong.

While I do think we need to make sure our kids are taken care of, safe, and hopefully happy, they can’t always come first. They can be our priority, but coming first all the time?

Sometimes work has to come first.. As much as it would be nice to ignore it all and just play with the kids, the kids want to be able to eat and have a place to live, so we need to bring in that paycheck. While a balance needs to be found somewhere, work still needs to get done.

And sometimes, we put date night with our husbands first.

We send them off to grandma’s where they get spoiled rotten anyway.

True, they aren’t with us and they might prefer if we had done something else that night- like make an impromptu trip to Disney World or gone to Toys R Us and bought every single Lego set ever made, but trust me, they aren’t suffering at Grandma’s. And you are spending much needed time with your spouse.

And sometimes we have to shut the bedroom door and nap or stay home from a soccer game to get some rest.

This past weekend, I ended up with a fever of 102. I was dizzy and queasy and weak.

So I took the time to rest and get myself better.

Not something I can always do- especially if my husband is out of town. But in this case, he was home and perfectly capable of handling breakfast and soccer games 5 and 6 of the weekend.

I’m still not back to 100% but I’m sure I’m feeling much better than if I had attempted to do it all.

So, while I think that a good mom puts her kids first a lot, it’s can’t be all of the time. What do you think?


  1. says

    If you’re sick, you are no good to anyone anyhow. You have to rest and take care of yourself, and like you said, your husband was there and could pick up every bit of the slack. 

    As with everything, there is balance, and it’s ok for kids to know that!

  2. says

    I completely agree, I wrote about something similar awhile back.  We can’t be good moms and women if we aren’t putting ourselves first sometimes too, kids need a  mommy who is there for them, puts them first most of the time but also shows them it’s okay to take care of you too.  If I was always putting everyone else first and myself last, one, I would never get to me and two, I don’t think it would be a good example for my kids because they would think they needed to put themselves last too.  Hopefully I explained that well enough haha.  Great post!!
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    • Shell says

      That’s true- kids need to know that they can put themselves first- and we do need to set that example!

  3. says

    I think that in order to be a good mom, sometimes you have to know when you need to put yourself first for the good of everyone.

    Also, children need to be taught limits and boundaries.  Sometimes those limits and boundaries mean that the kids can’t come first.

    I hope you feel better soon!
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  4. says

    It’s so true that we need to remember ourselves, too. We aren’t any good to anyone if we’re beyond exhausted, beyond sick, or beyond stressed. And in a way, that IS putting our kids first. Maybe we’re not putting them first THAT SECOND, but we’re doing what we can to keep our families functioning happily in the long run.
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  5. says

    I think you are definitely right. I think when we put them first 100% of the time our health suffers, marriage, etc. I know I focus on my kids so much sometimes I leave my poor husband out more times than not.. its not fair to him!
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  6. says

    I hate the conditions of what makes a good mom. There is no one thing, first of all and second of all, what works for one family might not work for another family. I have suffered a lot of guilt because I felt like a bad mom for needing to go away with my husband, just the two of us. I’ve heard that people don’t understand when I need a night to myself (I’ve even heard the world selfish because my little one cried when I left). What happens when my husband and I end up divorced because we stopped connecting and finding “us” in the chaos that is our family? What happens when I fall apart and feel crazy because I don’t have one second to have my own thoughts? What then? How will the kids be then? Wow…sorry. I went off a little but it’s only because I think you are soooo right.

    • Shell says

      Exactly- we have to take care of our marriages and ourselves or we won’t have those strong foundations for our kids.

  7. says

    I couldn’t agree more, Shell. I LOVE my kids… but they are temporary residents in my home. If we don’t make ourselves and our partners a priority once in awhile, what will happen when the kids move out of your house & onto their own life? I’ll love my kids for the rest of their lives, but they have to learn that life doesn’t revolve around them. Good for you for putting yourself first, Shell. Excellent post.
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  8. Cindy King Colucy says

    Awesome awesome awesome. As I often remind my friends and hubby on the airplane they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before you help others.

  9. says

    This is an interesting post. My husban and I are starting to think about kids, and we have collectively decided that we should put ourselves first instead of kids. Reason being that if we take care of eachother and set an example of a happy marriage, then that’ll only be good for the kids. I’m curious to hear what other moms think of this concept. Thanks for sharing!
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    • says

      Sandra, I think the best thing you can do for your children is to provide them with a mom & dad with a strong marriage relationship for security and for a role model. Of course, that doesn’t mean you become so selfish that you don’t ever do take time with the kids. :-) There will come a time when your kids leave the nest, and it is just the two of you again. If the focus has been on the kids and not at all on the marriage, I think it will be very hard when the kids leave.

      I’d like to share an excerpt of a gift of writing my oldest daughter gave us on our 25th anniversary. I do so only to show you that all those lessons you pour into your kids and the love you share with your husband will pay off later on :
      “I know that for your anniversary, I’m the one that’s supposed to be giving you something. But really, it’s what you have given me each time you celebrate an anniversary that’s important. Every year since I was born, you both have taught me so much about love-how to make it work, the importance of compromise, and also about taking time for yourself. Your love and support of each other has in turn supported me.”
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  10. says

    I couldn’t agree more. A healthy family starts with mom (and dad) feeling healthy, both physically and mentally. And modelling “me time” for our kids is also important. I want my children to see me take time for myself, and for them to realize that, while they make me incredibly happy, my happiness is not dependent entirely on them. I want them to know that, when they go off to college or get married or what have you, I have my own things that make me happy and my life hasn’t been entirely about them and I won’t be sitting at home wasting away, waiting for them to call or come visit. Because saddling them with that guilt would NOT be doing them any kind of favour.
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  11. shannon says

    totally totally totally agree. my son is awesome and we have tons of good times, but if i didn’t say okay, go entertain yourself i’m gonna take a bubble bath and read for awhile, i wouldn’t be as worthwhile or as present in the moment during the time that we do spend together. the only time your kid should always come first is when it comes to food, if you’re poor feed the kid and go hungry. otherwise, it’s the same strike-a-balance game as the rest of life. with all this hoohah lately about MOMMYMOMMYMOMMY whatnot, it’s nice to see that people are still saying being a mom rocks the house, but thank goodness i still have my own identity.

  12. says

    I completely agree with you! If you put the kids first all the time, you lose a sense of who you are. Taking time for yourself is just as important as taking time to do something with the kids. Taking time for yourself — whether it be locking the door and soaking in the tub for 20 minutes, or shipping the kids off to grandma’s for the night to spend time with hubby — makes you a better mom in my opinion. Because if you’re feeling more relaxed after a little me time, you’ll be a better person around the kids.

    Feel better soon
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  13. says

    I struggle with this so much lately…and definitely more so since I started working full-time last January. Before that, I felt better about taking time for myself…and now the guilt kicks in more often than not. The paycheck means we don’t worry about money as much anymore…but then I feel so bad if I am with anyone other than my little dude when I’m not working. UGH. Vicious cycle for sure. But I have definitely noticed that I’m not paying myself as much attention lately. Maybe that’s why my pants are too tight. LOL.
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  14. says

    Absolutely. In fact, I think that doing all those things you described actually IS putting them first, albeit indirectly. They benefit from the work income, the stronger marriage, the rested parents. Buying them every Lego toy known to man (or, in my case, letting Ryan watch 13 straight hours of Dinosaur Train) might be fun, but isn’t really in their best interest anyway. We’re teaching them valuable life lessons/skills: the difference between needs and wants, the fact that the world doesn’t revolve around them, patience, sacrifice, yada yada.

    I’m pretty much convinced now that it’s time for me to get that pedicure I’ve been putting off…
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    • Shell says

      I agree- it does benefit them to have a mom who isn’t so stressed, parents who are happily married, and what comes from a job, too.

  15. says

    Absolutely – I’m with Tiffany!  Besides, how are kids supposed to learn to be self-sufficient if parents always put the ‘kids first’?  The idea that the kids wants outweigh other needs flies in the face of the balance that most people strive to find.
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    • Shell says

      That’s true- they’ll be shellshocked later in life to find out they aren’t always first if we don’t teach them early. 😉

  16. says

    Amen! I couldn’t agree more. If I don’t sometimes put my needs first and our marriage needs first, I believe my kids will suffer in the long run. I want to model for our girls taking care of myself and enjoying my husband. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel guilty about putting myself/our marriage first! But I get over it pretty quickly, especially when a movie date is involved ;-). Great post! Hope you’re feeling better soon!
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  17. says

    It’s hard to take care of your family when you are ill. I hope you are feeling better! It’s good for your hubby to take care of the kids once in a while. It helps him appreciate you more.
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    • Shell says

      So nice for him to have to take care of the kids all by himself- makes him appreciate when I have to do it!

  18. says

    I certainly think they came before many things, but not stuff like health or shoes! Kidding. But, yeah being a mom has so many expectations and one of those needs to be taking care of yourself for sure! Hope you’re feeling better. I was on my death bed last week too and Sandy made it so everyone had to stay in the same room and I could actually nap without worrying about anyone playing in traffic.
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    • Shell says

      Today is my first day w/o a fever. Do not remember feeling this awful before. Maybe I need to go celebrate with a pair of shoes…

  19. says

    I also agree. As hard as it is sometimes we must take care of ourselves and take time for us. Being a mom is hard enough already if we don’t give ourselves some time it can open the door for emotional issues and resentment. We ready have enough to deal with.
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  20. says

    I agree completely. You have to take care of yourself sometimes to be able to take care of your little ones. I’m a better mom when I put myself first from time to time.

  21. says

    You are 100% right. Children who know they come first become a terror when they’re older and mom goes off and does something irresponsible like going on a Mom’s weekend. Or when , Mom gets an outfit that looks like it’s from this century and they don’t necessarily get something of equal or greater value at the same time.

    It makes them tyrants. And mom too weak of a subject to right the course.

    Ask. Me. How. I. Know.
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  22. says

    My MIL was a counselor before she retired. She would always tell people who came in with their kids to focus on their marriage first. She gives me this advice all the time too. 

    I would add that if I don’t give myself a little time to be still and recharge that I am one crappy, impatient mother. 

  23. says

    I think the sign of a good mom is knowing what she needs to keep herself healthy and sane so that she can be there for her children. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
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    • Shell says

      I wanted to gag when I saw this ecard- I figure it was made by someone who was trying to shame one of her fb friends for actually taking time for herself. I couldn’t let it go.

  24. says

    Life is very hard always and on everyone. A good parent prepares his child to all circumstances. If the mother makes her child a priority, he will expect that from everyone in the future, and the mother will be frustrated from the lack of gratitude her child would have.
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    • Shell says

      Children can’t expect to always be the center of the universe- think of the fits they’d have later in life!

  25. Jeanine says

    It’s easy to agree with this, and I do, up to a point.  Definitely, putting your marriage first is almost always the best thing you can do for your kids.  There are a million statistics that show that kids do much, much better over the long haul in a two parent household.  On the other hand, I have witnessed an extended family member who totally subscribed to this theory, and her child ended up cutting himself as a teenager just to get the attention he so desperately missed.  I’m not saying this is you at all.  I just found your blog, so I have no opinion about your parenting at all.  I’m just saying that there needs to be a balance.  If you’re sick, you need your rest in order to be a good mom, and I hope you’re feeling better now.  There is always a balance, and it’s hard.  I have three sons also, and they are all grown now.  I’m glad I was able to give them plenty of time when they were young, because that’s how kids spell love.  They grow up so fast, and now that I have the perspective of time, I gladly give my adopted twelve year old daughter all the time I possibly can.  It passes so fast!  Also, at age 52, I’m so glad I didn’t miss the opportunity to have a little girl.  I just have to say this to moms of all boys, because a girl is the best gift we ever gave our sons as well as ourselves.

    • Shell says

      And that’s why I said “sometimes” marriage/job/self has to come first- definitely not all the time. Kids need attention and to feel important- just that it can’t be all the time. :) 

  26. says

    that’s the most ridiculous card I’ve ever seen…
    a good mom puts her kids first? One might say I put God first as we’re taught in church…
    Or I put my mental health first, because a happy mom means everyone else is happy and taken care of…
    Or I put my husband first, because if I don’t nurture that relationship then there will be no relationship…
    Or depending on the situation, we’ll see who comes first right then….

    Ugh, cards like that is why moms feel like crap about themselves…
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  27. says

    What a ridiculous card. If I put the kids first ALWAYS I wouldn’t be a properly functioning mom for very long. So glad you wrote this post because I’ve been suffering a little from lack of self-care recently. Time for a pedicure! Glad you’re feeling better!
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  28. says

    A good mom takes time for herself – to recharge her batteries. I could never be the best mom I could be if I didn’t take time for myself, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. I try to get to the gym or a zumba class – ALONE- every day because it really helps me refocus.
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  29. says

    I agree. It is a balance. I think your kids are always on your mind and you always have a plan for their care and well being…like gifting grandma some time with them…but ultimately, we have to take care of mama too. Kinda like the airplane mask for are only helpful if you put your mask on first.
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