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What To Do When You Feel Like a Bad Mom

What To Do When You Feel Like a Bad Mom

Have you ever felt like a bad mom?  I can tell you that I did when I accidentally locked my child in the car.  Here’s the story plus what to do when you’re having parenting challenges.

It’s one of the big parenting nightmares.

You get out of the car, you’re about to get your child out of the back, when you realize the doors are locked and your keys are inside the car.

This happened to me the other day.

I was on my way taking my daughter to the zoo.  A fun day out with my girl.

I parked, gathered everything into my big backpack so I would have everything on me and got out of the car.

I was about to put the backpack on when I realized it was a bit breezy that morning, so I started to put on my long sleeve shirt.  Suddenly the slight breeze changed into a big gust of wind that slammed the door shut.  With my backpack inside containing my keys and cell phone.

The door was locked with my 3 year old inside.

From feeling like a good mom to a bad mom in a split second

Panic started hitting me.

My cell phone was locked in the car so I couldn’t call anyone for help.

I had to get control of my panic because my daughter was starting to get upset that I wasn’t letting her out of the car.  I had to be the calm one (not easy) so I wouldn’t make her more scared.

Now I have to stop for a minute and explain our car.  We have a 2009 Honda Fit – I love our small car.  I bought it new and because I was already shelling out a lot of money, I went with the frugal package.  Meaning no extras, no power locks.  And when she was locked in the car there was no button to push from the outside to unlock the doors.

Luckily we were in a parking lot of a zoo so people were walking by.  I called over two women to tell them what happened and ask for help.

They were so kind and stayed with me the entire time until Miss O was out of the car.  One of them let me use her cell phone to call my husband at work to see if he had spare keys to the car.

We were in luck, he did.

I asked him to come right away.  Another thing is, my husband doesn’t drive to work, he walks.  So he didn’t have a vehicle.  Taking a bus would take too long.  He would have to take a cab.

That would still be less expensive than breaking a window to get her out.

Another piece of luck – his boss didn’t have any meetings to drive to so he let my husband borrow his car.

Related reading:

Trying to let go of the mom guilt

While we were waiting I tried my best to talk to Miss O through the car and keep her as calm and happy as possible.  I explained in simple terms what happened and what we were going to do about it.

My husband got there as quick as he could and we got Miss O out of the car and gave her lots of hugs.  You can bet that I bought her a new stuffed animal from the gift shop for being so brave.

I accidentally locked my daughter in the car on our trip to the zoo. Am I a bad mom? | parenting guilt | mom guilt | parenting mistakes | bad mom

I realize how lucky we were.

There were so many things that could have gone a lot more wrong than they did.

We could have been parked somewhere that wasn’t as busy.

It could have been a hot day (I am so so grateful that it was cooler that day)

I could have been unable to get in touch with my husband.

Somebody could have mom shamed me.

A note on that last one.  I’m very grateful that the people I spoke with and who were helping us were ALL positive and lovely.  One of the women even told me after that I handled it so well and that I was a great mom for staying calm and keeping Miss O calm.

Well that brought tears to my eyes because in those situations, the last thing you are feeling like is a great mom.

After struggling with some parenting guilt and what ifs and totally not feeling like mother of the year, I turned to my favorite parenting resource to help.


Things that can make you feel like a bad mom

Maybe you didn’t lock your child in the car like I did, but perhaps you:

– find yourself losing your patience more than you’d like

– are struggling with how to get your child to cooperate

– want to connect more with your child but don’t know exactly how

– wonder why other parents seem to be getting the hang of parenting more than you

– aren’t as happy about parenting as you’d like to be

– want to strengthen your bond with your child before they get into the more difficult years ahead (teenagers – eeek!)

What to do if you ever feel like a bad mom

1.Cut yourself some slack.

You’re probably doing a better job than you give yourself credit for.

2. Apologize to your child.

If you made a parenting mistake, it shows great strength and is an amazing example to your child, if you apologize to them.

3. Learn from supportive parenting experts.

I have been a fan of Aha! Parenting ever since Miss O was born.  It has been my #1 resource ANY time I’m having parenting challenges, feeling mom guilt or like I’m a bad mom who just can’t figure out this parenting thing.

It has been the most supportive source for all things parenting and I turn to it again and again.

4. Talk to other moms.

Share parenting struggles with other moms. It helps normalize the difficult times in parenting if we share the hard stuff, and don’t try to present as an Instagram-perfect parent.

5. See a counselor.

If your feelings that you’re a bad mom are getting in the way of you enjoying being a parent, get extra help by talking to a counselor. They can help you get back on track to enjoying motherhood again.

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Have you ever felt like a bad mom?

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Monday 27th of January 2020

Wow-what an educated approach I have never thought of apologizing fr my parental mistake I will do practice this as it already made me feel so great while just reading it when I apologize in front of my daughters it will sure leave a very positive impact for sure. thanks for sharing great tips.


Monday 27th of January 2020

I love that it made you feel good while you were reading it ❤️ Have a great week Nadia!

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Sunday 28th of July 2019

My goodness what a story but it's kind of like courage under fire, i salute you for not panicking and talking your daughter through it meanwhile keeping her calm. Way to go mom :)


Sunday 28th of July 2019

Thanks Christina! It made such a difference to her when I got calm myself and tried to stay upbeat for her, while explaining what was happening and that she would get out soon. It helped that I had positive people around me too :)

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