Mom guilt sucks! If you are reading this article, you probably know exactly what I mean. Let me start with defining it. Mom guilt is that yucky feeling that you get when you feel like you are doing something, parenting wise, that society deems as wrong or bad. Example being, looking at your phone while your kids play at the park or taking a vacation without the kids.
I quickly learned about mom guilt after having my first child. It was something that I never had to deal with because I wasn’t a mom yet. Heck, I didn’t even know what it was. Then, BAM, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I suddenly felt guilty for spending time without my child, doing things that made me happy, not being in baby bliss all the time, and even for having a messy house. I spent many years battling with this horrible feeling that I wasn’t living up to society’s expectation of a “good” mom. Not to mention I am a working mom, and my husband is a stay-at-home dad. I’ll write a whole post on that later!
Now, I have four kids and, although I still have my moments, I have mostly abandoned that feeling of mom guilt. I look back on those early years and wish that I could have done it so much sooner. I am not going to sit here and tell you HOW to let it go because that is up to you. I, personally, just make a conscious decision to say I am not going to battle with this feeling. I really want to give you some great reasons WHY you should abandon mom guilt now.
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Happiness and Health
People say it all the time, you only get one life, so you better do it right. Mom guilt takes away from your happiness, your family’s happiness, and your quality of life. When you constantly feel guilty, it becomes a part of your personality and bleeds into your everyday life. Sometimes you do not even realize how it affects you or those around you. Just ask your kids if you seem happy. They will tell you.
In order to take care of your family, you must take care of yourself. Do NOT feel guilty for taking care of yourself. It is not bad or wrong. That includes alone time, exercising, hanging with friends, looking at social media, journaling, and many many other things. Ask yourself one question when you begin feeling guilty for having me time. Would your family rather have a healthy happy you or an unhealthy unhappy you? If you are not healthy (mentally and physically) you can NOT take care of them.
Moms tend to feel like we have to do it all and not complain. Society sets that expectation for us and it is just simply not true. That is where the saying “it takes a village” comes from. You can not do it all and that is okay. There is a wonderful book called, “You Don’t Have to Carry It All: Ditch the Mom Guilt and Find a Better Way Forward”. I recommend that all moms read it!
Mom Guilt is Not Realistic
If you think about mom guilt and that feeling that you are fighting, you realize that it does not even make sense. It’s silly. I mean really think about it. Let’s say you fed your kids cereal for dinner. It is not healthy, and you did not take the time to cook a healthier meal. You begin to feel guilty and then your child tells their friend. Oh no. Now you immediately jump to defend yourself and are beyond embarrassed. But the other mom may be shaming you!?! Now, does this feeling even make sense? It is a real expectation to cook healthy food every night for your kid’s whole childhood? Do you really think that other moms do? I know I don’t.
Let’s flip this mentality. Using this example, let’s change the thought pattern. When you begin feeling that mom guilt, ask yourself more realistic questions. Is that bowl of cereal going to harm your child? Will they be scarred from having cereal for dinner? I bet you that other mom has done the same thing. I mean I know other moms that gave Oreos for breakfast. Tell yourself I had a long day, and I am going to be gentle on myself today. I don’t feel like cooking tonight, my kid loves cereal, and it will make us both happy. There is no need to feel guilty. Not for this or anything else.
There’s Not a Perfect Mom
There is no such thing as a perfect mom. So, who are we comparing ourselves against? There are influencer moms, celebrity moms, crunchy moms, crafty moms, strict moms, playful moms, and there are 500 other types of moms. There is not a set standard to be a mom and we are all different. All your child knows is that you are THEIR mom. We have to stop comparing ourselves to something that does not exist!
I struggled, for many years, feeling guilty that I do not “play” with my kids. I don’t enjoy sitting in front of a Barbie house, crashing cars together, or playing tag. I used to be so hard on myself about it and then I realized that I am just not THAT mom. I had to embrace that I am just not the playful mom. I love to do other things with my kids, like travel or crafts, and that is perfectly okay. I literally had to let that guilt go and just say I am not going to feel bad about who I am. I am a great mom and there is no possible way I can wear every different hat.
At the end of the day, there are so many great reasons for you to let go of the mom guilt. I know it is easier said than done but practice makes perfect. Every time you get that yucky feeling, reframe your thoughts and be realistic. Journal about it, if you need to. Over time that feeling will fade and you can be free from mom guilt! Like I said, I still have my days, but the goal is not to be unrealistically perfect.
Kristy M., Mommy to Many