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Family Matters

8 Surprising Signs You’re Doing a Great Job, Mom

Pat yourself on the back for all moments you're actually getting it right

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Unlike most jobs, mommyhood doesn’t come with a yearly review. Instead, we self-judge our performance and we are usually pretty critical. Relax! It turns out that experts say having good intentions count for a lot—and you're doing better than you might think. Here's proof:

1. You cut yourself some slack—and that's a great thing. It’s easy to feel you’re not measuring up when you scroll through your Facebook feed. But resisting the pressure to be perfect actually makes you a better parent, according to an Ohio State University study. Researchers found that moms who settled for being good-enough were less stressed, more confident, and ultimately more able to address their kids' needs.

2. You get a compliment about your child's good habits. “If you hear about your child saying ‘Thank you’ or being kind to another child, it’s glorious,” says Michele Borba, Ed.D, the author of Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. “It means your child has picked up whatever trait you’ve been trying to instill.”

3. Your child melts down at pickup. If your baby or toddler turns on the waterworks when he catches sight of you, you’re doing something right, says Dr. Borba. “Kids are doing everything possible to hold it together when they’re away from you. And they know they can let go a little bit at home because we accept them.” Later, you can teach your little one better ways to decompress.

4. You honor your needs. Moms are awesome at putting themselves last. But you can’t function effectively if you’re constantly sleep deprived and not eating right, says Paula Spencer, author of Momfidence. And that’s not good for you nor your family.

5. You wait a moment before trying to save the day. Kids take their cues from us. So, if you want to raise a child who’s comfortable making mistakes and taking (reasonable) risks, don’t overreact when they take a tumble or can’t figure out the monkey bars. “Wait an extra beat—unless you see blood,” says Spencer.

6. But you usually shower your babies with kisses. Showing your love and support in words, hugs, or snuggles helps children feel secure, says Spencer. And it makes their brains bigger, too, according to science!

7. You find time to play. Playtime fuels your child’s creativity while boosting motor and problem-solving skills. But when you join the fun, you’re strengthening your relationship, according to research published in Pediatrics. Your kiddo recognizes you’re paying attention to her, and you’re gaining valuable insights into her thoughts and, yes, frustrations.

8. Your child wants to do it solo. Every day you tie shoes, brush teeth, zip up jackets, and read the same story over and over—and one day your kid will reward you by taking over those tasks. Be proud of your accomplishment, says Dr. Borba. “Your whole role is to make sure your kids can thrive in the world without you.”