Why Putting Your Needs First Fuels Good Parenting

good parenting

When you welcome a new bundle of joy into your life, it’s only natural that you want to give her the world. It’s also true that a baby requires a lot of attention and nurturing. As she grows and gains independence, her needs may change but they will always remain a top priority for you as a parent. 

Any mom or dad will tell you, it can get exhausting. For moms, the struggle of balancing it all can really take a toll and it oftentimes leads to putting your needs on the back burner. When this becomes a pattern, not only you but your family can suffer. That’s why we’ve enlisted Eirene Heidelberger, nationally-renowned parenting expert and founder of GIT Mom (Get It Together, Mom!) to offer her guidance on how and why to practice a “mom-first” parenting approach. Here are the six greatest lessons we learned from talking with Eirene.

If you’re a hot mess, who’s taking care of the baby?
“Mom is the most important person in the family,” says Eirene. You brought the baby into the world and understand what the baby needs most. If you become forgotten in the family lineup, the seamless flowing family may just well fall apart. Your needs must be met first to set the tone with the family. When this happens, you can feel happy and confident instead of overwhelmed and frustrated. One of the most important things Eirene preaches is that “a rested parent comes from a calm place.” Being sleep deprived helps no one.

It’s imperative that you find your mom village.
For parents looking to take back their lives, awareness is everything, says Eirene. It is crucial to have your mom village to help support and guide you. “Everyone has their own style, so it’s really important that you hook onto like-minded families who are doing things similar or whose style you want to emulate.” She also suggests reaching out to experts like parenting coaches, psychologists, and pediatricians for advice. If you are struggling, you can’t be afraid to speak up and take the steps necessary for positive change to occur.

Your kids benefit from you putting yourself first.
When your children see you putting yourself first, it creates a level of respect in which they see their parents as the creators of the family. “As parents, we are there to nurture and love and teach our little ones that they aren’t living in a bubble. They are in a world with other people and they need to exist with other people,” says Eirene.

You can get rid of your mom guilt.
Eirene wants all moms to remember that you are, first and foremost, women with your own needs, goals, and passions. Therefore, you need to give yourself permission to pursue your own life in these regards. Your personal fulfillment will make you a better parent.

Communication is key to achieving parenting balance between spouses.
It’s not uncommon for many moms to take on the brunt of the work when it comes to raising their families. It’s up to you to shift the balance so that you aren’t drowning in responsibilities. “You needs to accept that your partner isn’t a mind reader and communicate what’s going on. Have a professional, calm conversation about what you need to feel supported and to get off mommy island.” She also suggests creating a schedule so that each parent can pursue their own activities. That way, everyone will know when their needs are going to be met.

Juggling career ambitions, your health, and downtime can be done.
Eirene herself is a great model for making it all work. She juggles a career, marriage, and raising three kids while still putting her needs first. For those with young kids, she emphasizes the importance of a schedule. “If your child is on a schedule and you know when your child needs to eat, sleep, and play, you’ll know when you can fit your needs around your child. Your child comes first, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t matter.” So work while the baby sleeps, plan your workouts with the baby in tow or without—whatever you need to do to fit your “me” time in, just do it. It may be the difference between having a happier life.

Eirene Heidelberger is a nationally-renowned parenting expert and founder of GIT Mom (Get It Together, Mom!). Through GIT Mom’s 7-step method, Eirene empowers mothers and mothers-to-be by teaching a “mom-first” parenting approach. She is the only parenting coach in the country who advocates parenting techniques that puts the mother’s needs center stage.