Mom guilt! The single, most detrimental feeling a mom experiences. Guilt is something everyone experiences but it can magnify ten fold if you give energy to it. You know that feeling that you need to rush home because you don’t get enough time with your children, that feeling that creeps in because you are a working mom that feels bad about the lack of time at home or you’re a stay at home mom that wants a break, that feeling that comes over you when you compare yourself to other moms, that feeling that says you aren’t good enough, that feeling that completely consumes you and takes away any peace you might have felt.
As moms, we experience this feeling before children are even born. Mom stigmas, shaming and societal pressures condition moms early on with this feeling of mom guilt. Social media has only exacerbated this fear mongering monster. Mom guilt is something that creeps in at your most vulnerable moments and is so common that it is almost normalized. As moms, none of us are immune.
I feel super passionate about helping women get out of this cycle of mom guilt because i know how awful it feels. It can truly affect the way you live your life. I have seen, personally, how it steals joy from the most precious time of your life. I have felt that overwhelming burden of what if I had done this, what if I had done that, I have been in states where I have put sole responsibility of my son’s cries, illnesses, allergies, sleep issues on my ability to parent. I have also felt massive guilt for calling off work, in the past, because of my son being sick. I have put responsibility of things that are out of my control on to myself. That is just not fair. We can only control our responses and actions to people and situations. My son wasn’t crying because of me, he wasn’t sick because of me, he doesn’t have allergies because of something I did, these situations happen and I am here to make him feel safe and loved and do the best I can to get him better. So why would we, as mothers, feel guilt about things we can’t control?!
This exact topic is one of the reasons why I have expanded my coaching business into “Mom Coaching”. Mom guilt causes an array of issues that can take you away from being your best self. It can take you down a dark hole that can turn into bigger issues such as anxiety or even depression. I don’t believe we can force mom guilt from not popping into our lives completely, but I believe when it pops through our mind that we can use tools to release it. Motherhood isn’t always a light of sunshine but if we have the tools to bring us back to center, we can confidently conquer anything and live true to our authentic selves.
How can you release and conquer mom guilt?
- Know and Align with your Personal Values
Values are the importance or worth you put on something. Evaluate, specify, and differentiate between career/home/personal care values. This means spending some time with yourself, really drowning out the noise of others. This will help you align with your own personal moral compass.
Ask yourself... Are my actions in alignment with my values? What values are competing with each other?
- Differentiate between Natural Guilt and Toxic Mom Guilt
After aligning with your moral compass, you can more clearly differentiate between real, natural guilt and toxic guilt that follows you around like a shadow. Guilt is an important feeling that drives our actions. It is an appropriate feeling when we have done something hurtful someone or we are living out of alignment of our personal values. When you are able to differentiate between the two you can spend less time dwelling on the toxic guilt and more time moving forward.
Natural guilt arises when we have hurt someone, physically or emotionally, or maybe even after you spent too much money on something out of your budget. Clearing this natural guilt takes an apology or maybe even returning the item out of your budget.
Toxic Mom guilt, on the other hand, is like a shadow that follows us around, it’s there, it doesn’t go away, but we don’t give it attention and keep moving forward. This guilt can be consuming and heavy. It can come from unrealistic expectations that leads to false responsibility that then leads to false toxic guilt. So an example could be feeling guilt from allowing your kids to have “too” much screen time while you got something accomplished, or taking time away from your kids to do something for yourself or you feel like you aren’t doing enough. It comes in many forms and starts early on but differentiating between the two guilts can help you put a name to it and move forward, but there are still steps you can do to release this guilt when it arises.
- You do you!
You know what’s best for you and your family. Let go of societal, cultural, and personal unrealistic expectations. Release the comparisons. This is easier said than done, but the moment you can be confident that you are doing your best because you know your family best, you can move forward faster when mom guilt creeps in. Also, unfollow any social media pages that make you feel bad or guilty. When you find yourself comparing, go deeper into those feelings.
What are triggering these feelings?
What insecurity do you have that needs addressed?
- Go with the Flow
Let go of perfectionism by lower expectations. Comparing your life before kids to after kids is not a fair comparison. Studies have shown a link between perfectionism and situational guilt. If you can start focusing on what you have accomplished (even the smallest of things) instead of what you didn’t do, it can change your perspective, build confidence and allow more flow in your life.
Are my own standards realistic?
What self-imposed expectations can I let go of?
- Organize your priorities and set boundaries
Get clear on communication with others. Where do you need help in your life? Who can help you with these tasks? Remember, just because you can do everything doesn’t mean you should do everything. Ask for the help you need without guilt.
Start by making a list of 5 important commitments each day that take priority of everything else and get comfortable saying no to anything that is a barrier to accomplishing them. These commitments don’t have to be elaborate, meet yourself where you are.
- Quality over Quantity
There is never enough time in the world to live life, work, and parent. If we had our choice our days would be much longer than 24 hours. But that just isn’t the case and we do have to ration our time. So,make the most of the time you have with your children. 1 hour of quality time is much more impactful than 8 hours of being there but not really being present. Being attentive and listening makes the time we do have with our children that much more meaningful.
- Prioritize Self-Care
Think of self-care as a part of your duties or priorities. Self care is not selfish, it is necessary. A lot of mom guilt comes from moms believing their self care is not as important as everyone else’s and this is just not true. As a mom, you have a lot on your plate, which comes along with big responsibilities and an even bigger mental load. This means we are at higher risk of becoming depleted than before having children. Our children’s well being depends on our own well being. One of the best gifts you can give your children is a well taken care of Mother!
- Accept the Things you cannot Change
You can only control you and your actions. Allowing room for life to happen and surrendering to that flow will help you keep a positive mindset during challenging times.
Know that there will be compromises, sacrifices, and trade offs. This is a part of life and we have to keep in mind that “this too shall pass”.
Evaluate your priorities time to time.
- Make a list or organize your priorities for each day or week, you will be able to visualize, tackle, and feel accomplished when completing each task. Always include your self care duties within this list. This will help keep you flowing at your best. It will ease your mind when you are able to see what you have done versus what you haven’t done.
There is no mom immune to the feeling of mom guilt. It is a shadow that follows us around, but are you going to give your complete attention to that empty shadow, or move forward confidently, knowing you are doing your best, shadow or not?