child in bath wallpaper

7 Things That Good Mothers Do That I’m Not Going to Do Anymore – by Leigh Anderson

child in bath wallpaper1. Bathe the kids every day.

Children, unless they’ve been rolling in the mud, do not need a bath every day. In the summer I rinse off sand, sweat and sunscreen pretty much daily, but in the winter it just makes their skin dry and rashy. Twice-a-week baths are fine and save me the soggy wrestling match that is washing a screaming toddler and preschooler.

2. Do an elaborate bedtime routine.

Literally everyone told us we needed to do a bedtime routine. Bath, infant massage, dim lights while nursing—this was bad enough and clocked in at about an hour. Now, with our 4-year-old, more rituals have crept in, like:

  1. sing a song;
  2. read three books;
  3. listen to Freight Train Boogie;
  4. dance;
  5. play a game he and daddy made up, called “crashies,” in which I always get injured;
  6. a good-night “wrestle” with his brother;
  7. tooth-brushing;
  8. a game called “burrito” in which he is rolled in a blanket, then unrolled like Cleopatra at Caesar’s feet;
  9. prayers;
  10. a dozen good-night hugs and kisses in a specific order and if we mess up we have to start over;
  11. one more drink of water;
  12. one more pee;
  13. one more drink of water.

The bedtime routine starts at 3:45. In the interest of recapturing those hours, I’m eliminating all but tooth-brushing and prayers, which, mumbled at high speed while inching towards the cocktail cabinet, are more true to my Episcopalian faith anyway.

3. Buy organic.

I’ve spent the last five years standing in the fruit aisle debating whether to spend $2 for an organic apple or 50 cents for a regular one, and then, confused, I buy no apple at all. I am just not going to worry about it anymore. It’s better that they eat fruits and vegetables than not, and we can’t spend $200 a week on apples.

4. Force my kids to eat vegetables.

With my first child, we forced him to eat a certain number of bites of his dinner to get dessert. This resulted in bargains and negotiations and debates over exactly how much food on the fork counted as a “bite.” (It was a little like arguing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.)

By the time my second arrived, we started following Ellyn Satters division of responsibility, which makes meals a lot more peaceful. I mean, mostly.

My son sat down at the table the other night, looked at what I’d made, and said, “This looks like an old head.”

So yeah, it’s not all wine and roses, but at least I’m not squabbling about whether gently touching your tongue to a piece of broccoli counts as a bite.

5. Be eternally patient.

I try so, so hard to control my temper. But sometimes, one child is repeatedly pressing the “Oh Susannah” button on his music machine, the phone is ringing and I can’t find it, the oatmeal is burning, and the other child is experimenting with asking questions in a barely audible voice. (Remember the scene in The Office when Michael Scott negotiates for a raise by speaking very softly? This is what my son is doing.) And then sometimes I lose my temper.

But the thing is—it’s not good for children to have infinitely patient, saintly mothers, because the world is not infinitely patient and saintly. Normal people lose their shit at too much loud-noise stimulus and burgeoning stove fires and a child requesting a cheese stick without moving his lips. It’s good for kids to recognize the incipient stages of someone losing their shit. This will serve them well in the world.

6. Have a perfectly clean house.

A friend recently said, “I wish I had known that motherhood is really just becoming a cleaning lady.”

And it’s true. I clean the kitchen four times a day. I scrape things off the floor with my fingernails. I pick up so many little balled-up socks. But now—partly because I hate to clean, and partly because I think kids, especially boys, shouldn’t think that someone is always going to pick up after them—I’ve started a gentle insistence that they put their clothes in the hamper with no intermediate stop on the floor, that they return their bath toys to the basket, and that they help out with weekly dusting and vacuuming.

It would be quicker to do it myself, and the house isn’t especially clean, but I hate feeling like a martyr. I’d rather have a slightly dirty house than be a servant, and eventually they’ll learn that small daily efforts are better for housekeeping than quarterly fumigations.

7. Spend all weekend with my kids.

The No. 1 thing I miss about singledom is time alone at home, to non-productively putter. So we’re starting a half-day-off policy; like the servants in Downton Abbey, we each get from 8 a.m. to noon, once a week, with no kids, work, or chores responsibilities. The other parent takes the kids out of the house. I am going to put spare change in the change jar and corral all my hair elastics and stack random pieces of paper on my desk. It’s going to be glorious.

Leigh Anderson

Leigh Anderson is the author of The Games Bible (Workman, 2010) and has contributed articles to Men’s Health, Jane,, Parenting, and Salon.
Connect with Leigh on Twitter


21 thoughts on “7 Things That Good Mothers Do That I’m Not Going to Do Anymore – by Leigh Anderson

  1. Great post, so funny because it is so true!! I have four children all grown now but I remember those days well and now I can watch my children do all of this with their children, so cool to watch, and makes me proud that they are all doing such a good job of parenting! Thank you for posting this. Michelle

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay this had me nearly peeing my pants (the bedtime ritual), nodding in sage agreement (getting the kids to clean up after themselves, spending all weekend with the kids, eating all their veggies). So good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on enjoymumhood and commented:

    A terrific post by a terrific blog. It’s both funny and interesting how when we start out as parents, we worry about every little thing, eventually, we realize what really needs to change if for nothing else but our sanity. Check them out if you haven’t already.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this! Why do we first decide what the perfect mom is and then kill ourselves trying to achieve that robbing ourselves of the joy of being a mom and our kids of a happy much less stressed mom.


  5. Oh my God, I freaking love this! The half day off idea is superb! Right now my husband and I revel in the beauty of sleeping in because we each take a weekend morning to stay in bed till 9 or 10am. A whole morning? My mind is racing with the possibilities. Peace in a book store perhaps?


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