3 Tips to be a “GOOD ENOUGH” PARENT














You didn’t want a life of loneliness?

Figured that having children would end that?

Congratulations! Now LAUNDRY is your constant companion!

My Mom used to tell me, “Everything comes out in the wash…” .

Since I was eight years old my plan was: To raise some wonderful kids and leave the world a better place than I found it…

Now – MY place was a wreck and so was I

So while shoveling the mud uphill every day, I reminded myself of what every older mom I’d ever met had shared with me: “Enjoy your kids while they are little – the housework will still be there long after they are gone!” 


I read once, “No success in the world can compensate for failure at home…”

My grown daughter, Lisa, aptly said: “Success is what we all strive for in life. But the truth is, that behind every success sits a pile of failures.”

…And a pile of laundry, I say!

Thank Goodness we somehow survive our parents’ imperfect parenting, and our children survive ours – all living proof of Guardian Angels.

 Nobody is Perfect…

BUT – Can we be ‘Good Enough’?

If you are doing your best, that probably IS the best you CAN do – but there is always more to learn.

Now that I have survived, I can see mistakes to avoid, and identified things that DID work – not to make me a millionaire – but to provide a life of fewer regrets.

The way I see it, after unconditional love for your children, these three things are essential to being a ‘Good Enough’ Parent:

  • Interruptability
  • Energy
  • Preparation


Paying attention to someone else means: NOT MINDING BEING INTERRUPTED.

Let’s FACE it – it’s GOING to happen, and a LOT – so at first you might have to pretend you don’t mind…

Studies show that children need both attunement and eye contact from a parent or caregiver to develop a sense of security and a capacity for proper emotional self regulation as they grow. That means undistracted parenting.

According to Dr. Claudia Gold:

“When a parent gazes into her baby’s eyes, she literally promotes the growth of her baby’s brain, helping it to be wired for a secure sense of self. The MPC (The medial prefrontal cortex) has been referred to as the “observing brain.” It is where our sense of self lies. When a mother looks at a baby in a way that communicates with him, not with words but with feelings, “I understand you,” he begins to recognize himself, both physically and psychologically. This mutual gaze, literally and figuratively being “seen,” actually facilitates the development of the baby’s brain. As the MPC matures in this kind of secure loving relationship, the brain is wired in a way that will serve him well for the rest of his life. He will be able to think clearly and to regulate feelings in the face of stressful experiences.”

Read more here: http://claudiamgoldmd.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-to-grow-childs-brain.html

Dr.Gabor Mate says that when a child does not feel someone is watching, they become anxious and can be at an increased risk for ADHD. References: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TdVlgh6yK_A

I learned to force myself to stop, smell the roses… and hold my nose while changing the next dirty diaper, again and again… and look at it as an opportunity to communicate caring and love with this little one in front of me.

chng_diap_tshirt72Eventually a lot more changed besides the diapers.

I did.

In the space of 7 kids and decades of mothering duties, the good news was that I DID get used to it and even began enjoying it without pretending.

I guess what Kurt Vonnegut said is true:

Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut


Kids are wonderful when we have the energy to keep up with them.

We get to re-experience life and delight in each new discovery along with them.

But keeping that energy up can be a difficult thing, when there is so much to get done… (did someone say, “laundry”?)














My son actually said, “DAD, MOM HAD A NERVOUS WRECK!” when the father of my seven children came through the door one day.

I had thought it was possible to “get everything done”. Sadly, I was mistaken.

So what was an ‘idealistic, try-to-get-too-much-done mother’ like myself supposed to do?

I absolutely HATE being tired, and can’t imagine anyone liking it.

After research and experience, I learned the things that gave me more energy, and what things made me tired and sad. Here are a few things that worked for me:


HA! Not surprising, it was the hardest thing for me to do – Because so many things needed to get done, I felt those things wouldn’t ‘LET ME’ get the sleep I needed. But it wasn’t true. I was the one who wouldn’t let me.

Give yourself permission to get what you need, and lower your expectations of what you can get done in a day. 


Adequate Protein – A MUST to keep up your endurance.

DRINK More WATER! It prevents stress and constipation. Constipation is the thief of Health.

Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, said,  “You’re not sick; you’re thirsty. Don’t treat thirst with medication.” http://www.watercure.com/index.html


TAKE VITAMINS! They really help.

There are many problems a healthy diet will cure that aren’t addressed by most doctors. I found Brenda Watson has a lot to say about it. http://www.brendawatson.com/

C- AVOID Energy Vampires:

  • Sugar makes you tired, after the first rush is over.
  • Avoid Negative people and Perfectionism
  • Avoid too much TV or Computer time…


From 0-3 years the brain of a child grows at skyrocketing speed, as they make new connections and learn new things. They ‘outsmart’ us regularly! All this nonstop growth can be exhausting, unless you PLAN for it.

One day I thought, “Why are the TERRIBLE TWOS so terrible? Because:You keep THEM from doing what THEY want to do, and they keep YOU from doing what YOU want to do!”

Before I had children of my own, one day I saw an overweight grandmother waiting for someone to arrive at an office.  She was watching a sprightly 2 year old girl. The old woman just wanted to sit there, and have the little girl do the same. Barely turning to look at her, she barked out orders to the toddler, “SIT! Come BACK HERE! DON’T touch that!”

 The little girl’s eyes darted back and forth, like a squirrel looking for a chance  to escape and run.  I felt the same way. Since we were both obliged to stay there for a bit, I sensed emergency measures were needed.  Grabbing a magazine on a nearby table, I opened it up to a photo of a person’s head. I quickly pulled out a small rectangular mirror from my purse, and placed the long side of the mirror down the center of their face.  I showed the little girl how she could create funny distorted faces in the reflected image, by moving it back and forth. Soon we were laughing and making the people ‘talk’ in the magazine! Keeping her occupied was a joy, until the grandma had to leave with her. By then, the little girl wanted to stay with me.

I wondered how the girl’s experience would have been if I had not been there to engage her with something interesting to think about.

After that, I resolved to always have something on hand to entertain a child with: A magic trick, paper and pen, or just a good story to make the time go by pleasantly, instead of painfully. 


Did I already mention that no one is perfect? With one exception. BEFORE we have kids we THINK we know it all.  After we have kids we are humbled to find out how little we know.

By the time I had 4 children between the ages of 2-9, I found myself yelling at the kids. What happened? Ashamed of myself,  I ran into the bathroom and cried,

 “I USED to be such a NICE PERSON!”

I returned to the kids and apologized – that it wasn’t their fault –  I loved them, but I was just really tired and needed their help.

I asked them, “Do you like it when I yell?”

Their answer was, “No.”

I told them “I don’t either.”

Then and there we decided we needed a system to organize tasks. We had our first family meeting of minds that night. I agreed I wouldn’t yell and they agreed to help. We wrote down all the chores on small pieces of paper and drew them out of a hat. When someone thought they couldn’t do the job they had picked out, we traded chores, until everyone felt confident he had one he could handle. That night I made our first chart with the chores we had settled upon, with pictures instead of words, since some of the kids couldn’t read yet. At the end of the week we would all go to the dollar store, and they would each be allowed to pick out one thing  – anything they wanted! Though it was usually candy (Since I didn’t allow them ANY candy the rest of the week), once in a while they’d pick out a toy or some other treasure that appealed to them.

That’s how my personal system of illustrated charts began.  It worked so well, I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t someone do this for mom’s who can’t draw?” After 27 years in the animation industry, I concluded that that someone should be me.

You can take my charts and customize them to your needs.

Download them here: http://www.gomommygo.com/thankdontspank.html


What makes us YELL?

Why do we get angry?

Anger is a secondary emotion.

Another feeling comes before it: Some type of Pain.

Frustration. Exhaustion.  Being TIRED can lead to being Angry…


When a car runs out of gas it has nothing in the tank but fumes to run on.  So we get frustrated when we can no longer handle it.

Think about the mechanics of what goes on when you have spent all your energy:  As soon as you have nothing left to give, everything inside of you wants to STOP.

But, if you are not allowed to stop, it just takes one more demand upon you, and the knee-jerk reaction is to  ‘fume’, explode, and Voila – Instant energy.

However it’s not the kind of energy you want…

ANTIDOTE: REFILL BEFORE you run out of Gas!

You may have started out with a full pitcher of ‘Love Juice’ in the morning to give out to everyone,  but after pouring it out all day, you need to refill your pitcher, too!

So –

Before you begin  ‘fuming’,  STOP!

Get a glass of water, cup of tea or coffee, and run into a quiet place – the bathroom, bedroom or just close your eyes for a moment – to call out for help – BEFORE you need it.

For myself, usually I would dash to the bathroom and pray, “HELP, GOD! I can’t make it without you!”,  and God and I came to be good friends.

Every little bit – not only helps – it’s ESSENTIAL.

Think of it this way:

You are the HOSE, not the water.  Let it flow.

Tomorrow is another day…

There’s so much more to share, but it will have to wait until another time.

For now –  I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day!





Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon

Director, EDUDESIGNS.ORG, GoMommyGO.com