You Are Not a Bad Mom If…

ID-10091061My kids found stale pancakes in the freezer today and yelled, “JACKPOT!” This tells you in one word how attentive I’ve been to cooking lately. I have lots and lots of excuses. Want to hear them? They go like this:

1. It’s so hot! Turning on the oven would be a HUGE mistake.

2. It’s important — critical, really — that kids learn self-sufficiency and life skills. Like how to forage for food. Good for me for giving them this opportunity.

OK, fine. Two excuses. But that’s, like, twice as many as one excuse. 100% more excuses!

The truth is, after running them to swim lessons and dance classes and doctors’ appointments and play dates and youth groups and parties and barbecues and overnights and, you know, remembering all of the things I have to remember, I don’t have any energy left to invent food plans beyond this one: There is food in our house. Eat some.

This is probably when I should feel bad about myself as a mom. I mean, isn’t feeding our children one of the things we do? And isn’t how well we do it one of the ways we define our self-worth?

Yeah, well. Screw that. (<– How I feel about Should in a nutshell.)

In honor of that profound statement, I’ve decided today is the day we’re going to play You’re Not a Bad Mom If.

I’ll go first.

You Are Not a Bad Mom If

1. You are not a bad mom if you didn’t make dinner. All month.

2. You are not a bad mom if you detest kid crafts and keep accidentally losing the Playdoh. In the trash.

3. You are not a bad mom if you don’t remember when your kids last bathed. Everyone knows that summer sunshine and stagnant kiddie pool water kills whatever germs get through the protective layer of dirt.

4. You are not a bad mom if your kid has a store-bought birthday cake. Or a homemade birthday cake that looks like homemade birthday cakes looked in 1976; baked in a casserole dish with fake frosting from a tub and partially used candles from the back of the silverware drawer.

5. You are not a bad mom if your kids find and eat stuff off the floor. Or if you do. In fact, this is no longer called Finding and Eating Stuff off the Floor. Now it is called Search and Rescue. And if the food is chocolate, you’re a downright hero.

OK. Your turn! What can you add to the list?

You are not a bad mom if…

(You can also play You Are Not a Bad Dad If or You Are Not a Bad Person If. This game is open to all comers.)


Refrigerator image credit to patpitchaya via
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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. You’re not a bad mom if letting them play with shaving cream and then rinse off in the kiddie pool is the summer time version of a bath!

    1. Oops didn’t see that my other post went through. 🙂

      1. You’re not a bad mom if you didn’t notice. 🙂

  2. You’re not a bad mom if you are wondering, after just one day of her being home, if it is too late to sign her up for three more weeks of sleep away camp. Where someone else feeds her. And bathes her.

    1. I signed my son (4.5) up for summer pre-school. We’re both happier when I’m not his only source of entertainment.

  3. Oh, I wish my kids were old enough for “there is food in the house. eat some”. Seriously! At least is applies to the husband and sometimes he will actually cook something with said food!
    I’m too tired to think of anything this morning…

  4. Everyone’s posts have made me feel so much better. My house is a pig sty right now…

    You’re not a bad mom if…. you have your 12 year old cook dinner on the nights you don’t feel like it. Especially if she’s a decent cook and can totally follow directions.

    You’re not a bad mom if…. “clean up this room” means “clear a walk way and take the dishes to the kitchen”.

    1. doing this has pushed my daughter into wanting to be a chef thank god cause she practices different recipes at home ( I havent cooked in about 2 years except for my spagetti or crock pot dinners) on days my oldest works my almost 13 year old learns the basics of practice practice practice, which does not make me a bad mom, it actually makes me a better mom because they learn life skills ( as in what to do when your out of milk for the mac and cheese thats already cooked and you refuse to go to the store which you can see if you look over the backyard wall) he he

  5. Your not a bad mom when you tell your son that he’ll grow boobies if he eats his boogers.

  6. You’re not a bad mom if…as you’re putting the lid on your child’s medicine, you spill it on the floor and as you’re picking it up off the floor to put back in the bottle you put your hand in an invisible spider web and just wipe it off and then put the med back in the bottle.

  7. You’re not a bad mom if your kids eat their grandfather’s Father’s Day cinnamon rolls they found while foraging in the freezer. The Apostle’s Creed refers to the “quick and the dead.” The old man should have been quicker; now his cinnamon rolls are dead.

    1. Would that be “the quick get the bread?”

  8. You are not a bad mom if you have to think about how old your three children are, especially the 3 mth (who is really like 14 weeks) when the lady stops your mad dash through the grocery store while you are pushing the basket, holding the 3 mth old and trying to keep the 6 yr old and 2 yr wrangled. Seriously miss lady… Yes I had to stop and make my brain work. Yes they are mine. do you really think I would be going through all this if they weren’t.

  9. You’re not a bad wife if…
    You have cooked dinner exactly 2 times in as many weeks and your poor husband has had to get food himself or starve,
    Your kitchen is stacked with dishes and your husband has been forced to eat off the same plate 3 meals in a row,
    Your house hasn’t been cleaned in weeks and you simply don’t care anymore.

    Great post btw! 🙂

  10. You’re not a bad mommy if you let your kids watch movie after movie in the air conditioning instead of going to the pool or playground, on the grounds that you’re protecting them from heat exhaustion. For real, though – MIL had them out running ALL DAY on Tuesday – pool, VBS, etc. and 8 y.o. boy came home vomiting from heat sickness. 11 y.o. girl just felt dizzy and queasy. We’ve been staying inside and taking it easy this week. But I did figure out that I can bake a cake in the crock pot by putting in on low for 3 hours. And if you make cake with coconut flour and lots of eggs, it’s totally breakfast and lunch. Even if you just make a regular cake, it counts too. It’s like real food.

    1. Cake in the crock pot? That’s awesome. Of course it’s real food!

  11. You’re not a bad mom if you send one kid out of the house to separate the bickerers. Divide and conquer!

  12. You’re not a bad mom if you feed your kids cereal for dinner and then an hour later when they say they are hungry you give them a donut.

  13. You are not a bad mom if you totally take advantage of your child’s inability to tell time. “Oh, look how late it is! Time for bed!”…at six thirty. =)

    1. Hmmm…

      Except for me, it is more like:

      You are not a bad mom if…your child’s actual bedtime, even in summer, is 6:30!

      (That was the case when my oldest 2 were both under 5; now, my current toddler has a 7 pm bedtime, the 8 and 10 yo’s have 7:30, the 12 and 14 yo’s have between 8 and 8:30. Yes, my incoming high school freshman goes to bed at 8:30…)

      1. I do this all the time!

      2. As a high school teacher and mother, I approve of the 8:30 bedtime for your high schooler! My 16 month old is in bed by 6 most nights, no later than 6:30 otherwise and I hope to keep it this way for several years! 🙂 You’ve given me hope.

  14. You’re not a bad mom if playing with shaving cream and then rinsing off in the kiddie pool is the summer version of a bath.

    1. I taught my preschooler his letters by letting him shower with me and drawing in shaving cream on the wall. He’d get clean, smarter and I got to take 30 minute showers without worrying he was tearing apart the house.

      1. julie, im only going to say this once, You. Are. A. Genius! And my hero. will you marry me? ok you may return to your own daily events.

  15. Okay, LOVE this post! Thank you for once again telling me just what I needed to hear today.

    I want to be creative but I am. Just. So. Tired. How ’bout:

    You’re not a bad mom if the floor/bathroom/laundry/whole house stays dirty/sticky/smelly/peed-on while mama has some ice cream and quiet time.

    Anyone ever tried wine on ice cream? Worth a try? Maybe a cider float?

    1. Try a Guiness Float!

    2. Carolan’s Irish Cream is to die for on ice cream. Rum, kahlua and frangelico are also lovely. Don’t know about wine, though.

    3. Bailey’s Irish Cream is AWESOME on ice cream. Dang, now I need to go get some before kids wake up….

  16. You are not a bad mom if your kid’s pee mattress has been flipped three times in the last couple weeks and the original peed on bedding has not yet made it into the washer, thus requiring four year old boy to sleep with girly comforter.

    1. You flipped the mattress, that’s something to be proud of! I’m too lazy for that. I make my kids keep plastic covers on their beds that make them sweat cause mattress flipping is too much effort! Although I do have to wipe the pee off the plastic. Hmmm, you might be on to something.

      1. Hell, I just throw a towel over it!

        1. Tried that one many a nights. He won’t tolerate the towel!

      2. I need to invest in a plastic only cover I suppose. The flipping is a result of 1. letting him sleep on the bed without protection once his mattress protector (which requires washing) was already wet. and 2. when said “protection” I guess no longer protects because the pee went right through. The flipping is simple because it is an old hand me down mattress, quite small.

        1. Incontinence pads! They are a plastic sheet with an absorbent top, usually marketed to seniors. You put one under the fitted sheet and the mattress stays bone dry. Don’t put it over the sheet, though, restless sleepers will end up kicking it out of the way.

          1. Ooh! great idea! Thanks!

          2. I almost always see bags of opened or unopened incontinence pads at our Goodwill. Great way to get them cheap. (Same goes for Depends if you’ve got large bedwetters…)

        2. This is my first post to this website….I’ve been lurking for a couple of weeks after finding this blog in one of those random internet accidents 🙂
          My just-turned-5 still has the occasional accident. And the best thing we found is a product from New Zealand (we live in Australia). They are special covers – absorbent but breathable – so it doesn’t feel like you’re sleeping on a plastic sheet! You can wash them and throw them in the dryer! They sit on top of the fitted sheet – so if the child wets you just take it off and put another one on. You don’t need to change any sheets, the mattress is fully protected – we have found them the best thing ever!
          They are called Brolly Sheets. I’m pretty sure you can now buy them in the US and UK. Thoroughly recommend them as they have improved our routine immensely 🙂

      3. Ok, here’s how this works at our house – mattress then fitted waterproof mattress pad then fitted sheet then washable waterproof mat then better fitted sheet. This sounds complicated but here’s the magic – it’s hubby’s job to make up the kid’s bed and he has agreed to this process. When kid wets the bed, one fitted sheet plus washable waterproof mat get peeled off and the bed is ready to be slept in. No midnight sheet changes or mattress flipping, just bedding removal. Fitted sheet plus mat get washed by me and returned to bed by hubs the next day. The magic is in the layers (and getting hubs to do it).

        1. Genius. That is all.

  17. You’re not a bad mom if at 9 PM realize you didn’t feed the kids and so scoop them up an extra scoop of ice cream to compensate.

    You’re also not a bad mom if you want to throttle the one who is done eating ice cream and says. You never fed us dinner, what are you making. Look, kid, do like your sister does and take the extra ice cream and run!!!

  18. You are not a bad Mom if you can’t understand the point of pajamas and could care less if the kids sleep in their same day clothes and/or underwear. Less laundry too. And also, could care less if they wear the slept in clothes to the sitter the next day.

    1. We have started relishing in the joy of sleeping in a tshirt. Preferably one that they will wear the next day!!

  19. Do I have to pick just one?? How about letting your kid have ice cream for breakfast just so she’ll go away and let you sleep? Or not cleaning the bathroom all summer cause you know it will just get dirty again?

  20. You are not a bad mom if you need a break from your teething, fussy baby; and whining, tantrum throwing three year old… and you are pretty sure they need a break from you too. So, everyone has been sent to their rooms for 15 minutes … including me. Breathe in, breathe out…. Only 3 more hours until Daddy gets home. It is definitely one of those days….

  21. You are not a bad mom if “camping bathing” is the same as a dip in the campground pool or Lake Michigan. Or scrubbing feet, faces, and hands before putting kids in their sleeping bags.

    You are not a bad mom if you plan on parking your kids in front of a movie while you unpack the trailer you used on said camping trip.

  22. I’m not a bad mom….if I researched every vbs within 30 miles of us to take my 6 yr old son to. So far we have done 3 & it’s free & awesome…. The last one even had a free BBQ last night. Dinner= done.

      1. We just finished up a VBS where they served dinner *before each class*~ gotta LOVE that!

  23. You’re not a bad wife-who-goes-against-societal-norms not to wash the floors all summer and determine this is life’s way of building strong immune systems for your crawling/scooting/floor licking baby. And dogs.

    1. I’m so there!

      1. Good thing about this is that when your kids are grown and have their kids who come to visit your house, they DON’T put them in cute white outfits–knowing that YOUR floors weren’t mopped every day. so everyone gets to relax and enjoy each other 🙂

    2. Whew! I’m not the only one! Thank God!

    3. I thought that was the whole point of dogs… you never have to wash the floors again!

  24. You are not a bad mom if you let your kids eat hot dogs three meals in a row. Honestly, this third time is a fluke because their dad offered to take them out for cheap at Costco. You can’t get in the way of bonding time with Daddy.

  25. Ha, ha! Can I just ditto items 1-4! (and I do sometimes go with #5)

    As far as dinners go, I blame either the heat (which even my husband agrees with) and hormones…really there seems to be that pms week when I feel pregnant all over again, meaning I can’t think or remember anything. Do as far as dinner goes, yup, it’s a fend for yourself week.

    Bathing kids, my rule. If they don’t stink, and I can still run a brush through their hair (with lots of detangling spray mind you) then they are still good. When it is bath time they look at it like it’s pool time, so it ends up being a win for everyone, except that I still have to bend over the tub and wrestle their slippery wet bodies with soap and deal with the drama of “it’s too cold out here!”

    The birthday cake thing…umm I always use the candles over again….I thought that would be more environmentally acceptable. And frosting is frosting, they don’t care how it looks as much as they care about how much of the sugary concoction they are allowed to eat!

    I used to try to keep the kids crafts and I thought play dough would be a great idea…now I slip things out the the recycle bin when they are sleeping and I like the fact that they seem to have forgotten about the play dough in favor of legos.

    I would like to add…Your not a bad mom if…You give your kids the food you don’t like to eat because their palates are not as sophisticated as yours are. (i.e. the stale leftover chips or bread or veggies)

    1. I love your add! I do the same thing. 🙂

    2. I do that last one, too. My toddler will eat almost anything, unlike his two picky-eater-parents.

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