Here is a very simple recipe that works only if you try it!

Mother your kids with less reactivity and more responsiveness – in 10 easy steps


How often have you felt that your mothering is a series of reactions, a moment by moment putting out of fires? Take a moment to check in and see what that kind of stress does to you? Do you feel overwhelmed by constant demands that take you away from the things you need to do? Do you feel guilty when you blow up and lose it? Do you feel hopeless because all your good intentions fall by the wayside?

Here is a simple 10-step recipe for mothering with intention. There are three parts to it:

A. What to do the afternoon before
B. What to do when you wake up
C. How to check in during the day

  1. Close your eyes and think about the kind of atmosphere you want in your home. I think the key is to minimize our reactivity (automatic, knee-jerk reactions to having our buttons pushed), and increase or responsiveness (calmer, more productive and through responses).

A. What to do the afternoon before

2. Start the night before: Get yourself a notebook or diary and write down a structure for the following day. Start with the appointments you and your children have. Next fill in the routine activities such as meals, bath times, naptimes, homework, bedtimes. Now if you have any gaps, spend a few moments thinking about how you would like to use that time and write down your plans.

3. If your children are old enough, get them involved in preparations – clothes and equipment needed for the appointments, for school etc. Have them help with preparing packed lunches and anything else that can be arranged the day before.

4. If your kids wake earlier than you, start teaching them to respect your bedroom and morning space. If you love having them jump on your in the morning, fine. If jumping on you ends up in chaos and sibling rivalry before you have even opened your eyes, it’s time to ask for something different. Something that works for you and gives you time to wake up. Let them know what you need in the morning and what you expect from them. Boundaries!

5. Set a calm tone for bedtime. Decide upon a routine bedtime ritual and stick to it. It might include bathing, stories, prayers etc. Put the kids to bed.

6. Once the kids are in bed, give yourself time to do something for you – a relaxing bath, time with your partner, read a novel, write in your journal, call a friend etc. Remember you have organized everything for tomorrow so now you are free! Before you go to sleep, set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you usually do. Don’t stay up too late. Get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be different!


7. You will wake with an extra 30 minutes. Open your eyes, stretch and yawn. Get your diary out and review the day. Spend 5 minutes on something that will give you sustenance for the day ahead – stretches, a walk, prayers, meditation, an affirmation, reading something inspirational. Make this a morning habit!

8. Let the day begin and follow the routine you have set.

C. How to check in during the day

9. In the beginning while you are setting up this new habit, check in regularly with yourself – at least every hour. Remind yourself that you are not reacting to crises anymore. You are now the one in charge, the one who sets the tone. Notice when you revert to old habits and think about what could have caused that. Are you tired, hungry, rushed or distracted? Is there something you can do to get back to your calmer self? Eat something, start getting ready earlier, call someone?

10. You made it. One day of calmer mothering. Celebrate by repeating the recipe. Prepare for tomorrow the way you did yesterday, making adjustments and improvements where necessary. Use what you have learned during today to make tomorrow that little bit better.

Remember: progress, not perfection. And one day a time!


3 thoughts on “10 steps to mothering without exploding!

  1. Hi Kim,
    liked your article! Most of your suggestions I put into practice already. But where is the time that a mother works? I haven’t seen a word about working (like in a job or at home. I find it the biggest challenge from going form full-time mom to full-time work plus full-time mom.

    • Hi J,
      Thanks for taking the trouble to read and comment. This is so much appreciated and you are right, I did not gear this article to moms who are working full time and are away from their children all day. I would be so interested to hear from you how you manage full-time work and full-time mom using some of the suggestions. Hope to hear from you soon,

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