Rachel Higginson and family

The last week of school before the holiday break was a jumble of hectic school mornings and trying to motivate children already mentally vacationing. I found myself impatient and frustrated with their lack of cooperation. Our morning commute to school became consecutive lectures on all the things they were doing wrong.

By the time I dropped them off and found some perspective in a hot cup of coffee, I realized I could have been kinder and more understanding; that maybe my impatience was unjustified.

I hate that feeling of messing up my kids. Not that I can avoid it in everything, but there are times when I just want to smack my hand over my mouth. They are just kids after all.

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for discipline or that I want them to be perfect. Or that I’m the big bad ogre forever interrupting their fun. But there are times when I’m too harsh, too impatient, too busy, too — a lot of things.

And it’s not just those hard moments of shouting or lecturing. I’ve started to think about my screen time and how much I’m spending on my phone. I sometimes catch myself gossiping in front of my girls and then regretting my words later as I realize how much my tweens heard and what kind of example that is for them. I find myself tuning out when my boys go on and on about video games that make no sense to me. Do they notice the glazed-over look in my eyes or the robotic “uh-huhs” I mutter when they pause for my response?

I definitely don’t believe it’s possible to be the perfect mom. If I’m honest, I don’t even think I’m a bad mom. I do a lot of things I’m proud of. I can look at my kids with pride, knowing most of the time they’re making good choices and treating others with respect. But as I reflect over the last year, I know I could be a better mom.

So, this year, as I write out my New Year's resolutions and decide which area I need to work on in my professional, personal and spiritual life, I’m going to include parenting to the list.

How can I be a better mom to my kids? How can I engage with them more and listen to them better? What strategies can I apply to curb my impatience before it gets the better of me? How can I make school mornings smoother to avoid the sharpness of my tongue?

This isn’t an exercise in guilt. But an honest appraisal of what I can do to be the best mom possible. I’m not trying to make myself feel bad or even put unrealistic expectations of perfection on myself. But just like I’m asking my kiddos to do better and be better, to listen more and behave in a way that makes them good people, I need to be asking myself the same thing.

And I need to follow through. Not only will this give them a good example of someone they look up to becoming a better version of themselves, but it will give them a partner in this difficult journey of life.

New Years, with its resolutions and new beginnings, is a great opportunity to pause and reflect on all these things, write a list and work toward being the mom I want to be.

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Rachel Higginson is a married mom to five kids. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has received a Utopia Award for Best Contemporary Romance and Penned Con Award for Best Novella Series. She lives in Omaha.

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