We all have our own definitions of what mom guilt is. Whether we are faced with guilty feelings when we go off to work or take time for ourselves, or feel like we are failing to measure up to the responsibilities of motherhood... mom guilt can be overwhelming.
Nonetheless, you do have the power to combat those nagging thoughts. You were an amazing woman before becoming a mother, and she's still in there: under the knotted hair, dark circles, and dirty sweatpants. It's time for us to stop shaming ourselves into exhaustion when our physical and mental health is crying out for a break. It may not be easy to quiet that voice, but with dedication to your own self-worth, inevitably you will become a much happier mom. Here are some tips that may help.
10 Reconnect with your true self
If you were asked to sum up who you are, without using the word mom, would you be able to do it? You know of all the tasks and responsibilities expected of you with your family duties... but are you able to describe your own personal values and needs? Perhaps you've set your own aspirations aside while you are raising your children, and going after what you want may not be realistic at the moment.
Your goals may look slightly different now than they did pre-motherhood, but with slight adjustments, anything can be made possible! Reconnecting with your true self can reduce mom guilt and reinforce the fact to your children that dreams are worth chasing after.
9 Practice, practice, practice
Re-wiring a brain to not feel guilty isn't a feat that's achieved quickly. Changing negative thought processes requires dedication and practice. Self-blame can be detrimental to your self-esteem and confidence in making everyday decisions. It isn't enough to just realize your mom guilt voice is being irrational; you have to convince yourself daily that you are doing the best you can with what you are handed.
Asking your spouse, your child's grandparents or a trusted adult to watch your munchkins because you deserve to take a break is a healthy habit to develop, even if it's a once-a-week occurrence.
8 Focus on the now
So maybe asking for the kid-free time didn't go as planned, and now you have this overwhelming mom guilt that you aren't patient (...or whatever) enough to your children. Yet, having a go with the flow attitude and remaining present in your situation can help you stay out of your head where the guilt resides.
Focusing on the now will make you feel grounded, happier, and flexible in what is thrown your way. You may have to adjust your plans a bit to make them more kid-friendly, but rest assured there will be many more days in the future you'll be able to take advantage of being child-free.
7 Free yourself of the past
Feeling guilty, regardless if it's before or after becoming a mother, will keep you in the past. You'll never be able to move forward as a person (or a mom) if you have heartache holding you back. It can be liberating to let go and forgive yourself when you are tired of feeling accusable. If you don't set those afflictions free, it can lead to devastating effects on your overall well-being.
Forgiving yourself can be the most selfless act you could model to your children. As mothers, we try to assure our children that despite whatever mistakes they make, they'll be loved. If we are so quick to provide unconditional love and forgiveness to our babies, don't we deserve the same?
6 Remember your accomplishments
Another idea to combat mom-guilt is to remember and acknowledge all of your accomplishments before and after becoming a mother. Your self-worth may hinge on what you are able to contribute to the world, so what better way to fight back those feelings of uncertainty than by reminding yourself of how capable you are.
Whether it's putting yourself through school so you can support your family or pulling through challenging parenting days, bask in your own achievements. The more you remind yourself of everything you can do rather than what you can't, the less you'll feel the anxiety and remorse associated with guilt.
5 Time spent with your spouse benefits the whole family
Perhaps you are trying to keep the spark alive with your spouse, or you know that spending quality time with each other is essential to preserving a healthy relationship. Yet the mom (or parent) guilt could be engulfing enough to devalue the importance of spending time together outside of parenting.
When the mom guilt starts nagging at you for leaving the kids to go on a date with your partner, it can be helpful to remember that spending time with your spouse is an investment for your future. Your children will grow up and leave the nest someday, and all you'll have left is each other.
4 Taking breaks makes you a better mom
Mom guilt can kick into high gear when kid-chaos is ensuing and all you want to do is put your feet up. Perhaps on your better days, you can handle it all; the noise, the mess, and the repetition of the word "mom." But even the best of moms have moments where they need to put themselves on a time-out. After all, even if you are supermom, you are still human!
Taking breaks makes you a better mom because you are practising self-care, a healthy coping mechanism to stress. You are also teaching your children assertive skills, vocalising your own needs to emotionally regulate, because you need to cool off. As long as your children are safe and nothing serious needs your immediate attention, you more than deserve that 15 minutes to yourself!
3 Remind yourself that no one is perfect
Generally, moms are quick to self-label as failures due to the obstacles met from the unpredictable parenting journey. It can be helpful to remind yourself that your struggle is not yours alone. Many other moms share in the same trials, so why not reach out for the support?
A great way to avoid unnecessary guilt and to stay out of your head is to maintain a social life with others who understand. You can vent to your best friend, the moms at playgroup, or with your spouse... ultimately if you get those thoughts out, the less likely they'll be consuming.
2 Stop judging (yourself and others)
We can't help it. At times, we subconsciously judge what other mothers are doing in comparison to what we do. However, this is why judgement, whether intentional or not, should be avoided as much as possible. The grass might seem greener on the other side; yet, we never truly know what is going on behind a seemingly perfect facade.
If you compare yourself to other mothers, despite your best efforts, you will never feel like you measure up. Motherhood is supposed to be a tribe of women who not only supports each other but can share experiences, on both the good days and bad. If you are constantly judging another woman's faults or shortcomings, the harder you'll fall when you make a mistake and the worse the mom guilt will be.
1 Embrace it
If there wasn't a sliver of guilt stemming from motherhood, would that make you a good mom? Mothers' primary focus are the lives of their children: we have to be in the know of what our kids are doing because that's just what moms do. In spite of feeling guilty whenever you do get kid-free time, learn to embrace it.
Mothers tend to put themselves last under everyone else. As natural caretakers, we tend to disregard what we need to do to feel happy. Of course, your children are your major source of happiness, but it's okay to let other activities (like self-care time or spending time with friends) also be the source of your contentment every once and a while.