As a work from home, co-parenting mom, mom guilt is something I have become very familiar with. In fact, I am pretty sure I experience it every single day. Being an entrepreneur, turning off work mode and getting into mom mode doesn’t come with an easy switch.
Just like motherhood, entrepreneurship is a 24/7 job, and there are times when I find myself working during times I should probably be spending with my son. There are moments throughout the week when he is actually seeking my attention. However, I have to meet a certain deadline or take a conference call. Even though I wish I could drop everything for him, I know the bills won’t stop coming and it is up to me to make sure they are paid. It can be pretty rough on my emotions.
We’ve all dealt with our share of “mom guilt” before. Guilt is one of the many emotions we feel as soon as that precious newborn baby is placed into our arms, right along with joy and fear. We all have a desire to protect and love our babies, but we also don’t want to scar them for life in the process.
Now that we are adults, we’ve had many years to evaluate what our parents did right and what they did wrong, or how they could’ve done a better job. Because of this, even before we have our own children, we create an idea of what we should and shouldn’t do as parents. Once we actually do become parents, we feel like no matter what we do (or don’t do) it will forever be our fault and our child will grow up to resent us for it.
And that’s where the mom guilt begins.
Why do we experience mom guilt anyway?
Parenthood is a such a huge part of who we are as women. Being a “mother” is the identity we take on in front of all the other titles we have for the rest of our lives. So if anything happens to go wrong or right with our kids, it is a direct reflection of us as parents. If our kid makes the honor roll, we hear nothing but praise. If they don’t make the honor roll we start to guilt-trip ourselves. “Why didn’t I help them with their homework more often? Maybe I should’ve pushed them harder?”
Not going to lie, before becoming a mother myself, I used to roll my eyes when I heard the term “mom guilt”. But now that I have experienced motherhood myself, I know the mom guilt is real. Annoyingly real.
Truth is, there a million reasons moms feel guilty. Here are some of main ones:
- You feel like don’t spend enough time with your kids
- You have multiple children and feel like they don’t get enough individual attention
- You secretly have a favorite child
- You lost your patience and yelled at them
- You decided not to breastfeed your baby
- You feel like you’re not doing as much for your kids as your parents did for you
- You feel like you didn’t give your kids the healthiest food at lunch
- You forgot it was pajama day at school and now your kid is left out
- Your kid uses curse words and it’s all thanks to you
- You missed a soccer game because you had to work late
- You went to the beach but forgot to pack their sunscreen
- You forgot they had homework and rushed it in the morning
And the list could go on and on…
As moms, it is important to remember that it is impossible to never feel guilty when it comes to our kids. We are pulled in so many directions all the time. It would be hard not to fall short of all of the unrealistic “mom goals” we set for ourselves. As painful as it feels, some mom guilt is actually good! Guilt can be productive and helpful, but you have to be able to recognize what guilt you should feel and what guilt is unnecessary.
Here are few tips to help you identify and overcome your mom guilt and separate the unproductive feelings from the feelings that can help us improve!
1.) Pause, then react
I wanted to make this the first tip because I find that the worst mom guilt moments come from our impulsive or knee-jerk reactions. Those days when you are already stressed out from work or from your spouse. You may have already HAD ENOUGH of everything. But those are the times when we may take that out on our kids without really thinking about it. Create the habit of pausing and taking a deep breath before you respond to your child’s actions – whether they are good or bad. Decide if this is worth yelling about, or can it be handled in a calm manner. In the end, you will become a more mindful parent and create a sense of peace in your household. That takes away a lot of mom guilt in the long run!
2.) Let the little things go
As parents, we are constantly aiming for unrealistic perfection. Parenting is NOT about being perfect, parenting is a learning process that requires you to make mistakes. Some mistakes will be bigger than others, but we often get hung up on small things that lead to unnecessary guilt. Not everything is worth the fuss of feeling guilty over. Sometimes, your kid will go to school with mismatched socks. Sometimes, he will get to school late. Sometimes, he will have the same lunch two days in a row. While we would all prefer for our child to head to school on time, perfectly groomed with a nice healthy meal every day – you have to pick your battles. Instead, think about what you did right for your child that day. Truth is – our kids don’t really notice or care about a lot of the little things we make ourselves feel guilty about. So let it go mom!
3.) Decide if you will really regret your actions
Guilt and regret go hand and hand. But not everything is something you should feel like you will regret! If you can’t volunteer as a chaperone for your kid’s field trip like the other moms are – that is not worth feeling guilty about. But if you make a promise to your kid that you will be there and forget to sign up – that might produce some worthy guilt. You live and you learn and you add it to your calendar for next time, right?
Another major thing you should not regret includes taking care of yourself…like when you leave your kids with the babysitter and go to the gym or have a night out with your partner. Mothers are primed to put the kids first, even before ourselves. But you have to learn to care for yourself and not regret it. Finally, don’t regret not being able to take are of something for your child right away. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “If I don’t do this task right now, in what way would my child be harmed?” If the answer is “not much” then don’t stress yourself out. That task can find it’s way down to the bottom of your priority list – your kid will survive!
4.) Keep in mind the grass will always seem greener on the other side
If you are a working mom with a 9-5 job, you may feel guilty about not having enough time for your kids. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you may feel guilty about not bringing home a paycheck. If you are a work-from-home-stay-at-home mom, you may feel guilty about not having the right balance of family time and maintaining your household.
No matter what your lifestyle is, you will find a way to guilty. Trust me.
But you have to remember that parenting is not a competitive sport, and comparing yourself to another mom is a no-win situation.
Whatever you choose to do is the best decision for your family so own it and don’t feel guilty about it, own it. Remind yourself that you are doing the best for your family and your situation. Parenting is not a mom blogger Instagram page – this is the real world, no filter. And no real parent makes fresh baked Pinterest-ready treats every day, has their home picture perfect, or keeps their kid’s clothes spotless. We are NORMAL and normal parents heat up leftovers, have toys all over the floor, and kids with dirty clothes. Let’s be real mamas.
Mom guilt will always be a part of motherhood, but it doesn’t have to take over your day-to-day life. I hope these help you manage and separate the unproductive feelings from the feelings that can help you improve!