Contributing Author : Leslie W
This past month practicing social distancing has been rough. On many levels. I have heard from countless friends how much this time has really taken a toll on their mental health – especially when it comes to mom guilt. But fear not, friends – I am bringing you some great tips on dealing with mom guilt today, along with some wonderful books and quotes to help your mom guilt.
For those of you who don’t know (in case there are dads or partners reading this), mom guilt, simply put, is a feeling of guilt or anxiousness that moms get because they are worried they are falling short of expectations in some form or fashion. Moms can feel mom guilt on a multitude of different levels and intensities.
In our society, we often hear about mom guilt when talking about working moms – but hear me when I say this: mom guilt does not only happen to working moms. It happens to all moms. Working moms definitely experience a great deal of mom guilt, absolutely – but so do stay at home moms, work from home moms, and any other type of mom you can imagine.
I know this is true because I have been both a working mom and a stay at home mom – and I have felt guilt in both situations, with varying intensities.
Today, I want to share with you some things that will help you with your feelings of mom guilt – 8 tips on dealing with mom guilt, quotes to make you feel better about mom guilt, and books to help you with your mom guilt. Please share this with your mom friends who may need to read this today.
8 Ways to Deal With Mom Guilt
Let’s start with ways you can actually deal with mom guilt – because I know, for me, this is what I have always searched for when experiencing my most extreme mom guilt emotions. I have 8 tips for you for dealing with mom guilt:
Trust Your Motherly Intuition
Ladies, we were naturally given a motherly intuition for a reason. (Well, for multiple reasons, really.) Please don’t forget to use this intuition to help you through mom guilt.
For example, what does your gut tell you about working? That it’s wrong? Or that it’s something you want to do (or have to do) and that your children will be okay? Whatever your gut tells you, think about it.
Recently, I had a day where I just didn’t feel great (mentally & emotionally). Unfortunately for my 2 year old son, that meant way more screen time than we are both used to – and I felt horrible about it. But you know what? I listened to my motherly instinct tell me that hey, it’s ok…he will be just fine…and mama needs to take care of mama sometimes, too. That instinct was right – because my son was absolutely fine (heck, he loved it!) and I felt so much better the next day after taking a day of rest.
Focus on The Positive
I know this is often times easier said than done, but really mama, try to focus on the good you bring to your child’s life – I guarantee you there is a lot of good you bring.
I know you may feel like you’re not doing enough at times or that you are working too much or have too much on your to do list, but try to think about all the good things you do for your child: those extra 3 books you read to him every night before bed, even when you tell yourself you won’t give in…the activities you plan for her throughout the day or weekends so that she gets a little bit of education even though she’s not in school yet…all the books you’ve ever read on motherhood and parenting (or the books you haven’t read because you trusted yourself enough to figure it out on your own)…
There is so much good you bring to your child’s life – I promise you. Just do me a favor, and remind yourself of that good from time to time. Don’t focus on the negative – just don’t.
Remember that saying “comparison is the thief of joy”? Well, whoever said that was right. Comparison is the thief of joy. Truly. It is so hard to experience joy in our hearts and lives when we are constantly comparing ourself and our lives to others’.
So stop. Now. If that means you need to take a break from social media, do it. Remember: social media is a highlight reel, plain and simple. It is not real life.
Stop comparing yourself to other moms who “seem to have figured it all out.” I promise you, they haven’t – no matter how much they seem that they have. Also, those moms experience mom guilt, too.
Stop comparing and start doing you. You will be immensely happier (I know this from experience.)
This one is the hardest for me, personally. I have OCD (like actually diagnosed OCD) so imperfection in a lot of areas is like witnessing the sounds of nails on a chalkboard over and over again – it is actually painful for me.
But, I can’t let that keep me from striving for happiness in the imperfect. I have to work on this every single day. Every single day.
There is always something that is out of place or dirty or not yet finished when you have children – it’s just part of having them. But that is ok. Nothing is perfect, including parenting, motherhood, children, our husbands and partners – the list goes on and on.
So, instead of feeling so utterly awful about your life and parenting not being perfect, try to be grateful that you have a life that is imperfect with your children and family in it – do you know how many people would give anything to be in your shoes? Lots.
The books I mention below will help you with this if you really struggle with imperfection and want to dig deeper…
Make Time for Quality Time with Your Children
Sometimes, the source of mom guilt can be lack of quality time and connection with your children. That’s actually an easy fix.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and 7 days in a week – so whether you are working full time, working at home, staying at home, or something else, make time to spend some quality time with your children. It really will make you feel better about things and make you feel less guilty as a mom. Promise.
Get Support from Others
Stop trying to do everything yourself – this is often another source of mom guilt – I know this first hand.
Ask for help. Does the house need to be vacuumed? Ask your husband or partner to do it. Does the bathroom need to be cleaned? Ask your older child to do it.
Crossing a few things off your to-do list, even if someone else has done them, can really cut down the amount of mom guilt you feel. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I have talked about self-care all over my blog – I am a huge proponent of mothers regularly practicing self-care (and self-care doesn’t always mean going to the spa or spending money, by the way).
Take a few minutes to read my post on 5 Self-Care Tips that are Actually Practical and Doable. Then, start doing them! No excuses.
Realize Mom Guilt Doesn’t Ever Completely Go Away, and That’s Okay
This one may be the hardest one for most of us. It’s the hard, cold, reality of mom guilt that is kind of shocking – it doesn’t ever go away completely.
That’s hard. That stirs up a lot of emotions for me. But you know what? It’s ok. It’s ok that we were programmed to feel guilty about things when in reality, we shouldn’t.
You know what? Sometimes, yes, sometimes, mom guilt makes you a better mom. Sometimes it forces you to do things you don’t feel you have the energy or time to do.
So, while it may be shocking to hear that it never fully goes away, just remember that we are all in this together – our mothers and grandmothers survived it and made us better women, and we can do the same with our children.
It’ll be ok, mama. It will.
Photography: Chelsea Marie Photography