The Mindset Shift That Saved My Sanity As A Mom

A realistic goal for imperfect parents.

Mindset shift as a single mother that saved sanity Barbara Olsen | Canva

One recent evening while trying desperately to fall asleep, I played a scenario with my daughter over and over in my head. That morning, she had lost something she got from a birthday party gift bag, and I wasn’t particularly patient. I was trying to get everything ready for school and a 50-cent pen truly wasn’t on the top of my priority list. But the pen was important to her.

As I tried to fall asleep that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about how, in a perfect world, if I were a perfect mom, I might have done things differently. How I might have dropped everything to help her search for the pen, with a smile on my face and a determined, can-do attitude. And then I realized that’s ridiculous. Good enough is more than good enough.


If you worry you yell too much, get frustrated too often, don’t know what you’re doing (ever), say something you didn’t mean to, or forget something important to them — know that you’re good enough. This is true for one reason: if you weren’t a great mom, you wouldn’t worry about these things.

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We all mess up. There is no such thing as the perfect parent. But the good ones are the ones who acknowledge and worry about what they may have done “wrong.”

I can’t tell you the amount of times I have done this — replayed a scene with my kids over and over in my head. Maybe I said something that I didn’t mean to. Maybe I was quick to anger one too many times that day. Maybe I forgot dance class, the thing my daughter looks forward to most each week. These scenes play on a loop like an old-fashioned, black-and-white film entitled You’re A Terrible Mom: Here’s The Evidence. I’ve watched that film so many times, I know it forward and back.

But the fact that this happens is evidence of the exact opposite. Of course, maybe it’s a little bit of evidence of anxiety, but it’s also proof that I care. Proof that I’m out here, trying my best when it comes to my kids.

Yes, I mess up. A lot. I don’t know a mom who doesn’t. And if you know a mom who says she never messes up (especially if she does so for likes and follows on your favorite social media platform), she’s lying. And she’s also probably a little bit toxic. Ain’t nobody got time for that.


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There is no such thing as the perfect parent. One who never makes mistakes. One who raises perfectly adjusted children who also never make mistakes. The perfect parent is a myth. A legend.

The goal as a parent shouldn’t be some mythical, unattainable ever-moving goalpost. It should be to do your best with what you have.

We all come from different backgrounds and have varying levels of support. We don’t all have the same opportunities. So we all can’t be expected to complete every parenting task like robots, as if our own lives don’t influence how we parent today.

Psychology and parenting research say that well-adjusted children have parents who meet their needs only 30% of the time. In what world is 30% of anything considered good? If you got a 30% on your English final in 10th grade, it wouldn’t even be close to an A. This gives you some indication of how difficult, complicated, and ever-changing parenting is. That’s what we’re trying to meet — 30%. Nowhere near perfection.

@ownitmama I’m here to tell you you are doing amazing.Always remember there is no such thing as a perfect Mom. No matter what stage of motherhood you are currently experiencing remember to always own it, mama.#sahm #fypシ゚viralf#fyppppppppppppppppppppppp #relatable ♬ som original - clovmsc

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I promise you, if you’re lying awake at night worrying about one little aspect of your day, you’re meeting that 30%. If you yelled a little too much, didn’t acknowledge something with enough enthusiasm, or were a little too distracted at breakfast, it’s OK. There were probably so many more moments in your day that were nurturing, enriching, and positive for your children.

This idea that we have to be meeting all of our children’s needs at all times — in a perfectly perfect June Cleaver kind of way — just isn’t realistic, or even possible. So let it go. I know, easier said than done.


But when you lie awake, ruminating on one single thing you said that day that wasn’t ideal, try to remember that the fact that you're worrying about it is proof that you’re doing a good job. I’ll say it again. And I’ll say it to myself, too.

Cue the Poodle mom on Bluey: You’re doing a good job.

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Stephanie Rondeau is a freelance writer, editor, and author of children's fiction. She has been featured in Boston Voyager, Self, and in top publications on Medium, among others. Stephanie's work often features feminism, wellness, parenting, and humor.