We often give our mums flowers and a card for Mother’s Day to say thanks for all she’s done for us over our lifetime – and that’s plenty. But it’s not until we become mums ourselves that we can REALLY understand the gifts she has bestowed on us; all the truly valuable parenting lessons we have absorbed as we grew up beside her.
These are the lessons that we can apply to our own lives with our own children on the daily and they are gems that are worth acknowledging and celebrating, Here are 8 things we’ve learned from our mums, without even realising how they’ve shaped us into the mothers we are today …
1. You can never give too many cuddles
My mum told me that when I was born in the late ‘70s, there was a crazy notion floating around parenting circles that picking your baby up too often or giving them too many cuddles could “spoil them”. But that didn’t feel right to my mum, so she flipped the bird to convention and cuddled the heck out of me. Three decades later, I did the same with my kids. Thanks, Mum.
2. Your patience will grow over time
You know how you lose your bananas when the slightest whinge comes out of your child’s mouth, but your mum is an eternal fountain of serenity and patience? Before you berate yourself for not being half the mother your mum is, remember that she’s had this gig for much longer than you. She’s had at least two more decades of practice at being patient with children than you have. You’ll get there too.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
These days, everyone talks about how it takes a village to raise a child and how challenging it is for modern mums because they’ve lost their villages. But most of us don’t know how to reach out to others for help, so we suffer the pressures of motherhood in silence.
Talk to your mum about it. Ask her what it was like in her day and how women came together to help each other out. She could give you some pro tips on how to form a solid sisterhood of mamas.
4. You need to take care of yourself to be able to take care of your kids
Your mum might tell you that self-care and me-time are essential for you to be a good mum – and you might ignore her like so many other first-time mothers do. But you should listen to the woman because she’s been there before.
I’ll definitely give my daughters this piece of advice because I failed to follow it when they were young, and I suffered the consequences of exhaustion and anxiety. I want my daughters to take better care of themselves than I did.
5. Forgive yourself for your mistakes
Your mum made plenty of mistakes when she was raising you, but how many do you remember? Probably not a lot. And the ones you do remember are likely faded and slightly comical. Like, “Mum, remember when you used to chase us around the house with a wooden spoon? Haha!” It all seems funny with the cushion of time softening the pain.
So, remember that it’ll be the same for you in 20 years. Your child won’t still be angry that you smashed their favourite toy with a hammer or that you accused them of eating all the chocolate when you were the actual (drunken) culprit. Try to soften your self-judgement.
6. Try not to sweat the small stuff
When one of my kids is sick or I’m stuck in school-run traffic, it sometimes feels like the apocalypse is nigh. I can get trapped in the feeling that life will always be this stressful. Mindfulness meditation helps, and also listening to your mama.
She’ll probably be the first to tell you that even though something might seem critically important today; it’ll feel way less dramatic in 10 days. And in 10 years, you’ll hardly remember it happened. So, when you feel your panic levels rising, take a deep breath and picture future you all zen-like because you’ve already dealt with this drama.
7. Don’t forget to laugh
Mums can be serious creatures, especially when we’re in the depths of exhaustion in those early years. Everything feels like a struggle and giggles don’t come easily. But laughter really is an amazing form of therapy, so try to get your silly on with the kids as often as you can.
Before I had my three girls, I met a cool mama who told me that Friday nights were disco night at her house. The whole family would whack on dress-ups and sing and dance their hearts out. I thought it sounded like so much fun and I vowed to do it when I had kids. Now we do, and we laugh until it hurts. Thanks for the tip, Cool Mama.
8. Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry
Apologising to anyone can be super-uncomfortable. Some people avoid saying “sorry” their entire lives because it feels so ick. And when the apology is meant for a child, it can be easy to squirm out of it because children never really expect grown-ups to apologise anyway.
But when I asked several veteran mums for their top parenting tips, almost all of them said that learning to say those two little words to your children is essential. It teaches them that everyone makes mistakes and the importance of offering a sincere apology. When you tell your child you’re sorry, you’re being a great role model.
And a fantastic mum … just like your own.