It is quite common for mothers to experience mom guilt at different points along their parenting journey. However, if you’re feeling wracked with guilt and it begins to take a toll on your mental health, then it becomes a problem.
You do not have to live with guilt! Whether you’re a new mom or you have fully grown children living on their own, there are many ways you can manage mommy guilt. If you start to feel the guilt creeping in, try some of the simple tips and tricks in this article and learn how to stop it.
What is Mom Guilt?
In simplest terms, mom guilt is the term given when women feel as if they aren’t meeting a certain standard they’ve set for themselves or that they believe others have set for them in any area of parenting.
Mom guilt can stem from feeling that you’re not doing enough as a parent or aren’t making the right decisions for your kids. Moms often say they feel like they’re doing something wrong, feel depressed, unworthy, and sometimes think that taking care of themselves is selfish. It’s important to remember that just because you feel something, that doesn’t make it true.
Why Do Moms Feel Guilt?
Being a mom is all about doing what’s best for your kids. The problem is that there’s no general consensus on what “best” really is. It’s a relative term, meaning everyone has a different idea of what’s best, which causes mom guilt.
With this being said, it’s easy for moms to create a standard for themselves in their heads of what kind of mom they should be. Whether it’s from personal experiences, watching their family members parent, or observing how other people parent. These standards that moms set for themselves can become very destructive and detrimental to their mental well-being.
There’s nothing wrong with setting goals for yourself or figuring out your parenting values. However, it is damaging to your mental health to set unrealistic expectations for yourself around your parenting.
7 Tips for Managing Mom Guilt & Shame
1. Accept That There Is No Such Thing As A Perfect Mom
Trying to achieve perfection in anything will cause some unhealthy and irrational feelings of guilt and disappointment, and this is especially the case in motherhood.
A quote says, “There is no way to be a perfect mom, but a million ways to be a good one.” Being a good mom is the only acceptable goal that parents should set for themselves.
Being a good mom means doing the best you can at a given time, and your best might be different on different days. Sometimes doing your best might mean getting pizza for dinner, putting a movie on for your kids so you can get things done, or taking time for yourself and your well-being.
Doing these things does not make you a bad person. It makes you human.
Remind yourself that everything you do is setting an example for your kids, and an excellent example to set for them is that real life isn’t perfect, and it’s okay to put your mental well-being first. Showing your kids that it isn’t always easy to find a good life balance will help them feel better when learning how to do it themselves.
2. Take Parenting Advice Lightly
While you might think it’s good to get parenting advice, remember that everyone parents differently, and every child has different needs. No one knows your kids as you do.
So when you start questioning things, try to trust your gut. Just because something works for your Aunt and her family doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for yours.
This doesn’t mean you should never ask for advice. It just means be careful who you’re asking. Make sure they have your best interest at heart. And if their advice doesn’t feel like it will work for your family, take it with a grain of salt.
3. Use Positve Affirmations
Positive affirmations have become very popular as they are a great way to challenge negative thoughts. There has been a lot of scientific research on the benefits of using positive affirmations to change your way of thinking and manage stress.
People have found affirmations can help with forgiving yourself and working through shame and guilt. People often say they feel less guilty and are much happier after regularly practicing positive affirmations.
Try using some positive affirmations for moms. Start with a few that resonate with you, and recite them regularly. The more you read them, the more effective they will be. You can write them down repeatedly, say them out loud when you wake up and before you go to bed, or you can write them on your mirror or print them out and hang them on the wall.
Make sure you use affirmations that relate to your current situation. Try searching for affirmations for new moms, working mom guilt, dealing with sadness or feeling unhappy, etc.
There are so many out there. You can get a free list from google to print out or write down, or even purchase affirmation cards from somewhere like Etsy.
4. Be Careful of Social Media
Social Media has many benefits, but it can also have a lot of negative impacts. People often post the best parts of their life online and leave out the struggles. This can cause you to compare yourself to them and their parenting journey.
But when you’re only seeing their best, you will start to compare your struggles to their perfect-looking life. Remember that you only see the good, and they most definitely have their struggles, just as you do.
If you’re going to use social media, it can be helpful to choose friends or influencers to follow that share more real-life situations. You can also look into joining some online support groups for parents that are going through similar struggles or feelings of guilt that you are. Hearing their related stories might be therapeutic for you and reassure you that you aren’t alone in what you’re feeling.
5. Spend Time With Other Moms
The best way to feel like you aren’t alone is not to be alone. If you can find some mom friends that you think you can be yourself around, and they can be open to you, it can help normalize realistic parenting practices.
Set up play dates with other moms, take turns going to each other’s houses, go out to lunch, etc. You will soon see that other moms don’t have a spotless house, they feed their kids junk food sometimes, their kids get screen time, and they’re probably just as overwhelmed as you are by the housework and having to juggle all of the responsibilities that come along with being mom.
6. Assess Your Mental Health
If you feel as if you can’t get out of a slump, it might be time to see a professional. You can meet with your doctor or a therapist. If you’re finding it hard to get out of the house or prefer to stay home, there are online therapists you can meet with as well.
This is a good time to see if there might be something else that contributes to your feelings of guilt and overwhelm, such as anxiety, depression, and any other mental health conditions you might be curious about. If you’re a new mom, don’t be afraid to ask about postpartum depression. Talking about it is the first step to take to start feeling better.
7. Spend Quality Time With Your Kids
Spending time with your kids is one of the best ways to overcome mom guilt. Stop trying to be supermom for a day. Let the dishes go, get take out for dinner, and be with your kids.
Whether you’re a stay at home mom or a working mom, your kids will remember how they felt when they were with you more than they will remember how clean the house was.
If you’re limited on time, try spending smaller amounts of quality, uninterrupted time with them, rather than just doing different things while in the same room.
No one expects you to spend every waking second with your child while giving them your full attention because that is impossible. Just make the time you can be with them, count.
Final Thoughts On Mom Guilt
It’s okay to feel guilty sometimes, and it’s pretty common. Most moms will admit to having a sense of guilt from time to time. But this doesn’t mean you need to let it control your life.
It’s time to let go of the unrealistic expectations you have. It’s time to have compassion for yourself, forgive yourself, and live without guilt. Try any or all of the methods listed above to make peace with the feeling of guilt.
Whether you and your partner are new parents or your kids are old enough to have their own kids, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, or mental health professionals for help.
Do not feel ashamed for having normal feelings. Take a deep breath and remember, you don’t have to let mom guilt make you feel like you aren’t a good enough mom. You can let it go.