We all have bad parenting habits we need to break. See if you can relate to these habits that are too easy to fall into—and how to avoid them.
“Gotta stop doing that.”
I’ve said this so many times to myself. I know what I “should” be doing as a parent but I sometimes keep repeating bad parenting habits I mean to break.
You know they’re pretty bad not so much because its consequences are dire but because you keep telling yourself over and over not to do them anymore.
And while these won’t make or break me as a parent, they’re still annoyingly persistent, despite my best intentions.
Bad parenting habits we need to break
For you, maybe it’s those zillion times you relent and allow your kids that extra piece of candy, or when you hop on the computer or phone when you should be playing with your kids.
We all have our guilty moments when we realize we’re doing exactly what we told ourselves not to do.
If you can relate, you’re not alone. Rest assured you’re still a fantastic mom, regardless of the bad parenting habits you tell yourself you’ll stop once and for all.
And don’t get too down on yourself. Below are some of my bad parenting habits I need to break, and how I plan to break them.
1. Not preparing the night before
Here’s another bad habit: leaving tasks to the morning when I could prepare them the night before. With only one hour to spare before we need to get out the door for school, preparing the night before is a lifesaver.
For you, that might mean packing your lunch, your pump parts, the clothes you’ll wear to work. These will be much easier to handle the night before, instead of in the morning when you’re half-awake.
It could even be something as simple as a mental note, of knowing what to prepare for breakfast or pack for their lunches. You don’t even have to do these things so much as at least have it in mind for when you actually do.
Because yes, we’re tired at night after a long day and want to cave in to procrastination. But we’ll be even more tired (and groggy) the next day.
Now I do as much as I can the night before when I’m alert, so that come morning, I have less tasks to do (especially if I’m trying to get out of the house by a certain time). And for those times I still procrastinate, I at least make a mental note of what I need to pack.
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2. Not really listening to the kids
“Oh, wow…” “Uh-huh…” and “That’s so cool…” are some of the should-be-said-more-enigmatically phrases I tell my kids. Thing is, sometimes I’m not paying attention to what they’re telling or showing me.
Just the other day, one of my twins was telling me something, but my mind was so elsewhere that I knew I was completely not present for him. *Cue the guilt trip*
I always a good excuse, of course: I was cooking, tending to another kid, cleaning. Or maybe their topic of conversation makes little sense to me (“The ocean water is this thick,” they might say. Huh?). And why do they keep interrupting a zillion times an hour right when you’re in the middle of doing something?
Now I learned that, no matter how busy I get, it’s actually more effective to stop what I’m doing to look them in the eye and listen to what they’re saying.
For one thing, they feel acknowledged and know we’re truly present (which hopefully means they won’t repeat themselves or tell me the same thing again a few minutes later).
And of course, listening is simply more respectful—I’d hate for someone to say “uh-huh” absentmindedly to me, so I shouldn’t do the same to my kids.
3. (Over) reacting
Let’s just say I had a tendency of freaking out over every little thing.
I reacted when I saw my eldest plop down on his brother’s legs, as if it was the worst thing he could’ve done based on my reaction. Had I kept my mouth shut, he wouldn’t have been in tears and assumed he had just committed the worst crime on earth.
Reacting, after all, is a dis-empowering way to view your circumstances. We’re letting what happens around us determine how we’ll feel, instead of being more purposeful and mindful of what’s happening.
It’s hard to control reactions, of course, so it’s a constant work in progress for me. Yes, I might still shoot out of my chair and run for a rag when my kids spill a cup of water, but hopefully I’ll do so quietly and without comment.
4. Making requests instead of statements
Do you find yourself asking requests, like “We’re going to the grocery, okay?” or “Want to take a bath now?” Complete with the rising inflection at the end of the sentence, of course.
The thing is, we need to be careful about the questions we ask our kids because sometimes, they’re not questions at all. Going to the grocery and taking a bath can be non-negotiable situations that they actually don’t have an option about.
I suppose these “question type” comments is really us saying, “We’re going to the grocery. Do you understand?” But phrasing the necessary as a question invites their opinions when they don’t count.
Now I’m learning to simply state the task as a fact: “We’re going the grocery,” or “It’s time to take a bath now.” I then save questions for when I can honor their answers and actually accept input, like asking which shirt they want to wear or book to read.
5. Waking up at the same time as the kids
Yes, I consider the privilege of sleeping in a bad habit, but only because I hate when I’m fumbling about in the morning while the kids need my help. I end up handing them bananas while we make our way around the kitchen, hoping this buys us some times.
Because there’s nothing worse than your kids needing you for just about everything, all while you’re still half awake.
Now I know better. On school days especially, I’ll set my alarm to 5:30am in case I don’t wake up on my own before then. During that hour, I’ll wake myself up, do a bit of work, and make breakfast. Usually.
Another change that helps? Giving the kids more independence, from using the bathroom on their own to pouring their cups of water. The more self-sufficient they can be, the less they’ll need me to do everything for them.
One of the healthiest realizations we parents can have is that we’re not perfect. We won’t ever be, and that’s actually okay. Looking back on your list of bad habits, you may find you still do the things you swore you wouldn’t.
For me, that includes not preparing the night before or truly listening to my kids while they share a story. Or overreacting about every little thing, or phrasing instructions as questions. And it might even be as simple as waking up at the same time as them, groggy and dysfunctional first thing in the morning.
But over time, we do our best and hope the good habits outweigh the bad. And if they don’t? Well… a late wake up time or a forgotten lunch never really hurt anyone.
Get more tips:
- Small Habits to Improve Your Parenting
- 7 Positive Parenting Skills All Moms Need to Have
- What to Do When You Feel Like You’re Failing as a Parent
- Time Management for Moms: Tips You Can Actually Apply
- Top 5 Parenting Myths: Are You Making These Mistakes?
Free ebook: Want to better manage your time and feel less tired and overwhelmed? Join my newsletter and get my ebook, Time Management Strategies for the Overwhelmed Mom! Download it below—at no cost to you: