The One Question I Started Asking Myself Every Night That Has Made Me a Better Mother

Just like most moms of my generation (and probably many generations past), I go through periods of really struggling with mom guilt. The main source of my angst? The state of my relationship with my kids. Do I spend enough time with them individually? Do we spend enough time together as a family? Am I too hard on them? Do I expect too much? Will they be irrevocably psychologically damaged from when I yelled at them last week for fighting with each other? These are the questions that haunt me as I lay in bed at night.

OK, maybe “haunt” is overstating it a bit. Truth be told, I fall asleep just fine most nights. (After waking up with the baby at 6 a.m., working and being on mommy duty each day, my big, comfy bed is usually a welcomed respite.) But I do think about my relationship with my kids a lot.

The problem, you see, is that they are growing up so darn quickly. The perfectionist in me wants to slow down and make sure I do this parenting thing exactly right. But the kids, and their incessant growing, seem to have other ideas. In fact, I had the bone-chilling realization the other day that we’re already one-third of the way done raising our kindergartner!

It’s become clear to me that I’m just not going to have time to research and test the myriad of parenting techniques out there — I’m going to have to wing it. And, scary as that realization is, I’ve come up with a daily ritual that has put my mind at ease a bit about the situation. Here’s how it works: Every night before going to bed, I ask myself one simple question for each of my children —

In what specific way did I connect with ____ today?

Just knowing that I’m going to have to answer that question at night has really helped me come to this daily conclusion:

Find stolen moments during the day with each child.

  • Linger over breakfast a few extra minutes with my daughter.
  • Walk my son home from the bus stop instead of driving (despite the frigid cold).
  • Play a quick game of peek-a-boo with the baby after changing him.

Now when I lay my head on my pillow each night, I smile at these precious memories and don’t worry so much about my shortcomings. It’s a very small thing but it really has impacted me, and hopefully my children, greatly.

Photo credit: iStockphoto