Mums are failing at accountability. And it needs to change

Accountability is considered one of the most important traits of a good leader, manager or employee. It builds trust, improves performance and inspires confidence. It means honouring your commitments, even if other areas have to suffer a little.

It’s also an important trait of a good mum. It seems that mums are pretty great at being accountable to everyone around them — their children, their partners, their workplace and the extended family. But what many of us are failing at, is being accountable to ourselves. 

This is arguably the most important area of accountability — and we need to get better at it.

The benefits of being accountable to ourselves

Think of self-accountability as the foundation for building a house. It doesn’t matter how good the walls and roof are, without a great foundation, eventually everything else crumbles. ‘Everything else’ in this case, is your energy, your mental health and your ability to keep going. Self-accountability means recharging your batteries — let’s call it ‘self care’. And as mums — you need this more than anyone. It’s physically impossible to just keep going without ever taking a break. And if you’re always conscious about recharging your batteries, you’ll have the energy to keep doing what you do for those around you. 

The other significant benefit of being self-accountable is setting a good example for our children. Our children follow what we do, more than what we say. It teaches them that they need to look after themselves, keep their promises and not always be swayed by their external environment — particularly in the era of social media where they’re always plugged in to the external world. They need to learn to have time for themselves. And they need to learn how to say no. So instead of seeing your own self care as ‘letting them down’ — see it as teaching them a great lesson about their own accountability. 

How to practice accountability

We’re not always going to get it right. And that’s ok. But we can practice accountability and get better at it over time. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Work out what your priorities are. Write down all of your priorities. The most important things that need to occur in your life. This can be anything from working out, cooking for your family, taking your kids to activities or having some me-time.
  2. I can guarantee that once you’ve worked out what they are, some of them will be competing. So the next step is to prioritise your priorities. What are the absolute deal breakers without which your life won’t work? What’s urgent? And conversely — what can be postponed? And what can be dropped without having too much of an impact on your life?
  3. If you’re a typical mum, chances are your self care is way down that list. So include at least one of your self care items in the top three things on your list.
  4. Once you’ve sorted that out, work out what you need to do yourself, and what others can help with. Then, ask for help. There’s no shame in it. As they say, it takes a village.
  5. Create a to-do list. You can either write it down on a piece of paper, or use an app like Wunderlist. Lists are great because not only do they allow you to look at everything you need to do, there’s immense satisfaction in ticking things off and seeing how much you’ve accomplished.
  6. Commit to yourself. This can sometimes be the hardest part. And you won’t always get it right. But keep at it. Soon it won’t feel like effort.

As a mum, accountability to yourself should be a way of life. Be accountable to yourself first, so that you can keep doing the amazing things you do for others.