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9 Parenting Habits That Make You An Amazing Mom

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For the first 3 months of my daughter's life, I was in survival mode. When she'd finally go down for the night, I'd high-five my husband for making it through another day with her alive and relatively happy. As the months went on and we started to thrive (instead of barely survive) I realized we could start putting a little more thought into how we wanted to parent, making plans and building parenting habits that make me an amazing mom (or at least a good mom, so I'll take it).

I remember the day it occurred to me that we could actually make plans with our daughter. Ha! Isn't that a hilarious realization. I remember what it felt like to come out of survival mode and realize we could put structure to our day and that I could make decisions about what kind of a mom I wanted to be. For those first few months, I wasn't running the show. I think that's fairly normal (especially with a newborn) to feel like their needs and demands are dictating most of what you do (and how much time you spend Googling the latest weird thing they just did). However, when the power begins to shift and you start to realize you have the opportunity to call the shots, that's when it starts to become really fun.

Before I get cracking on these nine awesome parenting habits, I'll offer one little caveat. If you do none of these habits, you're still an amazing mom. Simply by virtue of being a mom, you are inherently amazing and I hope you know that in your soul. If you're hoping to become a better mom, which I think we all are when we can get past our sleep deprivation and have some coherent thoughts, know there's a light at the end of the tunnel when you can start choosing these habits that will make you an even more amazing mother than you one you already are (sleep depravation and all).

You Sleep As Often As Possible

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Sleep when the baby sleeps, nap when the kids nap, and put the phone away and go to bed early.

OK, so I'm guilty of not following these one 99 percent of the time, but when I do I feel like I could take on the world (or at least a non-stop toddler). When my daughter was still waking in the night during her first few months, I used to use her first nap of the day to catch up. Instead of getting the day started when she did, I just told myself that my day would start after her first nap. In fact, I didn't even change out of my pajamas until that nape happened.

You Take Deep Breaths

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At least once a week, it feels like the world is ending and I want to scream at the top of my lungs about something, even though that "something" is pretty trivial. Motherhood has a way of making the small things feel big.

Rather than scream from the top of my lungs and alarm the neighbors, I force myself to take several deep breaths. I usually hit the end of my rope when my daughter decides 20 minutes is a long enough nap and I start to feel the walls closing in. Before going to rescue her from the crib, I take several deep breaths (sometimes it's a little reminiscent of Carl in Family Matters) before greeting her with a smile on my face. It certainly doesn't always work, but it sure beats how guilty I feel when I snap at her for something she really can't be blamed for.

You Get Some Fresh Air Every Day

Climates don't always allow this, but in the hot Houston summer I'm reminded how much both I and my children need fresh air and room to move. My best days as a mom involve walking the neighborhood and watching my daughter toddle around our local park. I know it's proper winter in some locations still, but apparently even taking your kids out in the freezing cold (fully bundled, of course) gives everyone a good break.

You Get Over The Dirt

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This might have been one of the hardest adjustments I had to make when my daughter started walking and tracking animal cracker crumbs all over the house. Sometimes you've just got to get over the dirt in order to be a better mom. I try to remember that I want my daughter to remember me playing with her more than she remembers me sweeping floors and wiping banana goo from under her booster seat. There's more value in me hanging out on the crumb-covered floor than there is trying to vacuum up from underneath her.

You Let Them Eat Cake

Despite my enormous sweet tooth, I often have to remember that it's OK to sometimes let my daughter have sugar.

However, flipping back through photos of her first ice cream cone instantly reminds me. Sometimes that little bit of sheer joy a treat provides makes you a better mom than making sure she's only eating kale chips.

You Treat Yo-Self

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While you're treating your kiddo, don't forget to treat yourself, too. Whether with sugary treats as is my wont or with a manicure or massage, you need to make time to care for and celebrate you. Even a walk without pushing a stroller can be a treat, or sitting by yourself in a local coffee shop with a book for an hour.

You Take Time Away From Your Partner

Nurturing your relationships as a couple makes you both better parents. Having time to talk without interruption or someone pointing and say a bunch of incoherent toddler nonsense over and over again is refreshing and restorative and totally worth the babysitter.

You Let Your Partner Take Over

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For the last 15 months, I've been a stay at home mom. It's been a luxury, for sure, to be able to be with my daughter so long, but it's also created some patterns that I know I need to start breaking.

I do the day-to-day most days with our daughter, so I'm efficient and have systems that work and sometimes have a hard time letting my husband take over when he's home. Even though I sometimes have to walk away when he's feeding her dinner and letting goo smear down her shirt and get flung across the room, it makes me a better parent not to feel like I'm doing all the kid stuff all the time.

You Plan (A Little)

Naps used to dictate our days, with 90 minute stretches spread out through her 12 hours of awake time. Now that she's dropped down to one nap a day, I know our days need more of a plan. A friend with a daughter 6 months older explained her system: mornings are for outings and errands, afternoons are for naps and the park. You can swap that up however you like, but having a little direction for each day makes me feel less like I'm trying to entertain a tiny human for hours on end and more like we're having adventures together all day long.