Mom guilt is a very real thing and there are so many women who feel this way, that at times it seems like it is imprinted in us. Actually, it may surprise some moms to know just how many women suffer from guilt. In a poll by Baby Center, 94% of mothers revealed that they had shame about some aspect relating to the way they parent.
These feelings can range from regret that they're feeding their baby formula, to guilt because they have to (or want to) return to work, and this causes many moms to feel like inadequate parents. Mistakes do happen, and yes, it is their job to care for their little ones, but that doesn’t mean that they are a failure because of a mistake. What it means is that women are all in this together, learning how to parent and doing the best they can. It’s also an opportunity to use these mistakes as a learning curve, and get a step closer to being the best parent you can possibly be.
Below are 10 things to know about mom guilt, and then 10 ways to overcome those feelings or use them to ignite a positive change. No mom should suffer in silence!
20 Sometimes It Feels Like It’s Never Going To End
Mom guilt is a very real thing and many moms feel as though this feeling is never going to end, and according to Scary Mommy, it never does. The mom behind the honest post confesses that there are always times when she feels guilty at various stages of her children’s lives. For example, now that they growing up, she’s focusing on herself but that’s not without guilt.
All of these feelings are incredibly normal, but not everyone feels this way forever, and many women, including TV reporter and mom, Kristen Hewitt, will tell you, you can ditch mom guilt.
19 There’s Nothing Wrong With Feeding Your Baby Formula
One of the most common feelings of guilt for moms is about feeding their baby formula, and they struggle with how other moms will perceive them for doing this. There are many reasons why moms don’t nurse, including latch-on problems and having to go back to work. Baby Center notes that in a poll they conducted, 79% of moms claimed they felt guilty about their decision to stop nursing and give their child formula.
This is such a big problem that there are even books dedicated to the subject, including Madeleine Morris’ Guilt‑Free Bottle Feeding.
18 In A Way, This Guilt Can Be A Good Thing Because It Means You Care
No mom wants to feel guilty for things that are beyond her control, but in some ways, this guilt can be viewed as a positive because it means that they care so much about the wellbeing of their child.
In a blog post shared on Today, a mom spoke about how working guilt was a good thing because, for her, it meant she wanted what was best for her daughter.
She wrote, “It means I would do anything in my power to spend time with her. It means that I value her happiness over everything else...” and if you think about it in this way, then that’s pretty empowering.
17 You Don’t Have To Feel Bad About Not Being Able To Afford Everything
As a mom, you want to give your child everything. You want only the best for them and you work hard to ensure that you can provide a good quality of life. That said, there are going to be times when you cannot afford to give your child everything, and if you can’t justify spending money on those ballet lessons or extra art classes, that’s okay!
According to Baby Center, many of the things that parents think are a must-haves, aren’t, and it’s the love and care you provide that really matters.
16 It’s Okay To Admit That Motherhood Is Not Easy
Most moms will tell you that motherhood is a rewarding experience and that you have never known love until you meet your child. But despite all the joys that come with motherhood, there are also a lot of trying and emotional times, because this journey is not easy.
Most of us can admit that being a mom is hard, but few will say it aloud. According to the mom behind Perfection Pending, when she first became a mother, she was suffering from postpartum depression and she cried a lot, and then felt guilty for being sad and never spoke about her feelings or complained. The point? Feel free to complain.
15 Guilt Can Be Used As A Positive Parenting Moment
Guilt is not always a bad thing, because as mentioned earlier, it can mean you care about your children and their happiness. It can, however, also be used as a positive parenting moment.
The Balance Careers notes what this means is you can use this guilt to determine if you have done anything wrong and if there is a reason to feel this way. The publication claims you could be feeling guilty because of a poor decision, but only you can evaluate whether that guilt you feel was unreasonable or justifiable. If it’s the latter, then instead of beating yourself up about it, use this moment as a learning curve.
14 Returning To The Office Is An Intense Struggle For Working Mamas
Some moms may be excited to return to work and get back into a bit of a routine, but for others, this is an intense struggle, and in most cases, it’s a scenario that’s filled with guilt. Parents reports that women who want to go to work feel guilty for looking forward to getting back to the office, and women who feel they have to work—and leave their child behind—also feel guilty.
There is no perfect solution to this guilt, but the one thing you will be comforted to know is that these feelings are completely normal and have been felt by millions of moms before you.
13 When You Don’t Do What The Experts Say, It’s No Big Deal
You can read 20 books on how to parent, and then disregard all that information because you don’t feel it applies, and this should be a decision that is made without guilt. According to Perfection Pending, many books offer conflicting advice and this can be confusing. Instead, it’s better to focus on what’s right for you and your family — not what some expert who has never met you says is right.
That's not to say that some books aren’t helpful, especially when you’re a first-time parent, but it is to say that they are not a gospel. If you plan on disregarding the information, that’s no biggie.
12 If You Can’t Do It On Your Own, There's No Shame In Asking For Help
Our experiences of motherhood are individual and unique, and while one mom may be a superwoman who can handle five different tasks and three children at one time, that doesn’t mean the same can be said for you. Lack of sleep, complete exhaustion, and loneliness are common feelings, and there should be no shame in asking for help. Although as Scary Mommy reports, it may be the hardest thing to do.
The reason, as the mom behind the post notes, is that there is a common misconception that help is only for impatient or lazy moms, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
11 There’s Nothing Wrong With Doing Something With Your Friends
You are always going to put the needs of your child first, and being a mother is one of the most selfless roles, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about your needs. And this is exactly why there should be no guilt if you want to do something with your friends.
Huffington Post also notes that instead of focusing on the fact that you feel guilty because you’re doing something other than being a mom, think of it like this: you are teaching your children that women have choices and that that life can have balance and joy.
10 Overcome It: Distance Yourself From The People Who Make You Feel Bad
If you are feeling guilty about something, then maybe you should look at the people who you surround yourself with and how they are impacting the way that you feel. Are you dealing with judgmental moms who have an opinion on everything you do? Or is your mother making disparaging remarks about your parenting?
According to The Balance Careers, you can get one step closer to overcoming mom guilt by removing the negative people and their harmful comments from your life. If it’s a relative, the publication suggests leaving the room when the person makes a discouraging comment.
9 Overcome It: Face The Root Of The Problem: Did You Really Do Something Bad?
You can use the guilt in a positive way because it could help you change your parenting style, but first, you have to ask yourself why you are feeling guilty and did you really do anything wrong? Most of the time, the mom guilt is irrational but Lifehacker suggests taking time to evaluate if what you have done really deserves the guilt. Some scenarios do warrant guilt, and others don’t, and you need to be reasonable about this.
If things are out of your control, and if you can’t change the situation then there is no need to feel guilty about it.
8 Overcome It: Use Those Unwanted Feelings As Motivation To Be Better
Sometimes the feelings we wish we didn’t have actually have, have the ability to benefit our lives in a positive way. Psych Central weighed up a list of pros and cons to mom guilt, and among the pros was the fact that you can use these feelings to help create a change in the way you parent. If you feel guilty for a reason that could be warranted, then this could help you get one step closer to becoming the mother you want to be.
7 Overcome It: Stop Judging Yourself — You’re Doing Great!
Almost everyone has a different approach to parenting, and because of this, there is always the issue of who is doing it “right” and who is doing it “wrong.” But it’s time to forget these comments, stop comparing ourselves to other moms that we know or have seen in the classroom, and avoid getting hung up on your perceived failures.
Huffington Post claims that your best is enough. And your best does not need to be measured against someone else because everyone’s situation is different.
6 Overcome It: Find A Supportive Community That Really Understands How You're Feeling
Sometimes things can really be put into perspective when you have someone else to speak to about what you’re going through. This is particularly effective if that person can relate to your struggles, and this is why it’s important to find a community that really understands.
According to the Huffington Post, a mother’s guilt is a natural feeling and it’s happening because of your desire to be a good mother. Other mamas will get this, and you may benefit from joining a group in which you can discuss your feelings.
5 Overcome It: Take Deep Breaths And Find A Quiet Place To Unwind
Deep breathing is a relaxation technique that moms can benefit from and according to Very Well Family, it can help create a sense of calmness. Instead of stressing, you can learn to control your emotions and take a moment away from it all by doing a deep breathing exercise, which the publication claims will help you to handle the times when you feel overwhelmed with panic or guilt.
It also helps if you find a quiet spot to do these relaxation techniques.
4 Overcome It: Be Willing To Adapt And Change When You Need To
We have established that mom guilt is completely normal and that no two parents are the same, but one thing we can probably all agree on is that there is also no “perfect” parent. It’s unreasonable to assume there is a person out there who never makes mistakes. There is also nothing wrong with making mistakes, because it's what you learn and take away from these moments that matters.
According to Very Well Family, the best thing you can do is change when you need to.
3 Overcome It: We All Miss Out On Some Things, So Don’t Dwell On It
We are our own biggest critics, and sometimes we can be overly harsh on ourselves, especially when we miss out on certain aspects of our children’s lives. Maybe you had to work late and couldn’t get home in time to say goodnight to your little one, or maybe you had an important meeting and had to miss watching the school play. These decisions, and missing out on things are often accompanied by guilt.
Take each day as it comes and do your best to be there, but on the odd occasion you can’t be, it’s okay.
2 Overcome It: Make Special Time For Your Kids By Taking A Personal Day
As a mother, you’re always going to be pulled in many different directions, and sometimes you just need a break from everything to spend time with your child. The Balance Careers claims it’s beneficial to have times when you focus on your child and do something special with them; like going on a bike ride, playing with them, or taking them out for a fun activity.
This will give you a chance to catch up on things you may have missed out on. And A Mother Far From Home also suggests that in moments of stress, put away technology and focus on the task at hand.
1 … But Also Focus On Having Time For Yourself
You can put your child first and love them more than anything else, but that doesn’t mean you won’t crave time for yourself. Alone time, and time to do things that are so often put off because of a hectic schedule. And when you have this time, you should not feel guilty about it.
A Mother Far From Home claims that one way of avoiding feeling guilty when you are alone is by spending quality time with your children first. Some suggestions include reading them stories, playing with them, and asking them questions about their day.
References: Baby Center, Scary Mommy, Kristen Hewitt, Baby Center, Amazon, Today, Baby Center, Perfection Pending, The Balance Careers, Parents, Perfection Pending, Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, The Balance Careers, Lifehacker, Psych Central, The Huffington Post,Very Well Family, The Balance Careers, A Mother Far From Home.