Guilt is a sneaky feeling. It can creep into every corner of your life and ruin things. And it seems like there’s no way to avoid it. You feel guilty as a mom for not teaching your kids well enough, or for yelling at them when you accidentally snap and go past your limits. You feel badly for not spending enough time with the kids because you work, or because you’re a stay-at-home mom but your kids don’t have activities and entertainment every hour of the day. When the dishes pile up and the laundry goes from mound to mountain you feel like you’re failing your family.
And when you take time for yourself you feel neglectful.
What is Mom-Guilt?
The center of mom-guilt seems to be that everyone’s afraid they’re doing it wrong, and because you love your family the consequences of that feels unacceptable. Except the harder you try the more you feel like you’ll never succeed, so the guilt becomes a spiral you can’t escape. Reading this, if you don’t feel this guilt, you might even start feeling guilty for not feeling guilty. Welcome to the spiral.
But mom-guilt isn’t something that’s automatically paired with motherhood. It’s something society forces people to feel.
And it’s not healthy.
It leads to higher levels of stress, anxiety, and burnout, and can negatively impact your health. Motherhood isn’t always fantastic, but you don’t have to live with guilt. This post offers you some tips on how to process and move past your mom-guilt so you can enjoy your time with your family in peace.
Here are Five Practical Tips for Tackling the Mom- Guilt:
Consciously practice self-compassion
Here’s a hard truth. Are you ready? You are going to make mistakes. You are a human. When you do, you might not have control over everything that happens after, but the part you do control is how you talk to yourself about the mistake. To avoid falling deeper into a shame spiral, make an intentional choice to speak to yourself with compassion.
The world is hard on moms already, so you have permission to be gentle on yourself.
If your patience snaps and you scream at your toddler, make an apology, make sure they are okay. But then instead of telling yourself how terrible of a mother you are, remind yourself that we all have bad days, and you are going to learn ways to regulate your emotions from this experience. This way you grow, instead of getting stuck hating yourself for having feelings.
Take a realistic look at what you expect of yourself
We expect an inhuman amount of work/emotion/activity from ourselves. And we compare ourselves to others and inevitably feel like we’re not accomplishing enough, connecting enough, participating enough. Look at your list; is it realistic for anyone? And after that, is it realistic for you? Just because the mom next door is doing it doesn’t mean you should, or even can.
The baseline for being a good parent isn’t quantity, it’s quality. Find the areas where you feel strongest and focus on those, rather than trying, and probably failing, to do everything just because someone said you should.
Stay off social media parenting groups.
There’s a little bit of ‘mileage may vary’ here, but in general these are toxic places that will pretend to offer you tips but will instead just make you feel bad about your parenting style. We don’t see many people who are happier, better-adjusted parents after spending time in these spaces.
If you have one that works for you and is helpful, that’s great. But you should definitely take stock of how you feel during and after spending a time in this space to see if it actually enriches your life. Connection is good. Toxic pools of shame are not.
Set, and keep, boundaries
Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you don’t get to have boundaries, even with your kids. You should have well-defined boundaries with your job, your friends, and your family. If family time is Friday nights and that time is important to you, don’t let people push you into working overtime.
If your kid wants to sign up for eight different sports and you know you can’t manage that, it’s okay to say no. This will help you take care of yourself, and when everyone knows the system, they will learn how to work within it. If they respect you, everyone will learn your needs and understand the structure they require. This might have to be slightly flexible depending on your family situation but do what you can for where you are. You will feel better, so you will be the best mom you can be.
Ask for help
Moms so often feel like they need to do it all alone. The desire to be superwoman is overwhelming.
But families aren’t designed to work like this. They are a small community, and things should be done through communal effort.
Maternal Mental Health Support for Moms in St. Louis, Mo
Ask for help running errands or cleaning the house. Delegate tasks to the kids (and make sure to increase either the number of tasks or the complication of it as your kids get older! Taking a look at their responsibilities at the beginning of every school year is a good time to evaluate their role in a functioning household.), to your partner, or even to reliable friends. If you have the funds, hire someone. Even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’re still trying to do the work of three people. There’s no shame in getting another pair of hands involved.
The better support systems you have in place, the fewer balls will get dropped, and the more your internal battery will stay charged. This benefits everyone.
Guilt is a natural emotion, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it forever. You deserve peace of mind, and no matter what people tell you guilt doesn’t make you a better mom.
Prioritize Self-Care for your own Wellbeing and Accept the Support
Self-compassion, self-care, and support do a much better job. Try to work these practices into your life so you can enjoy the time you have with your family.
( Here are some tips on Self - Care from The Mayo Clinic )
Counseling Services in Ballwin, MO for Maternal Mental Health, Anxiety and More
Here at Marble Wellness, we want you to feel your absolute best. If you find yourself having trouble getting over the guilt, or struggling to navigate life as a mom, you can also reach out to a therapist. Helping yourself will help your family. If you live in the St. Louis Metro area, you can reach out to us at Marble Wellness. We specialize in maternal mental health, and we would love to help you find the happiness and health you deserve.
Additional Counseling Services at Marble Wellness
Counseling services designed to help set you on a path of living a more fulfilled, calm, and happy life. We specialize in anxiety, depression, grief, chronic illness, therapy for men, couples, and maternal overwhelm. We can also help new moms with various postpartum concerns, moms in the thick of parenting, and moms with teens. We can also chat from wherever you are in the state with online therapy in Missouri and online therapy in Illinois. No matter where you are in your journey, we would love to support you.