WHAT THE HECK DO I DO WITH THIS MOM GUILT?!
Mom guilt is something that, if you’re a mom, you have one hundred percent experienced before. Your first time may have even been during pregnancy. I know that I experienced lots of mom guilt during both of my pregnancies. It’s “normal” to experience it on a regular basis, even if that means, for you, daily. Mom guilt isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it means you really care and truly love your kids. We don’t need to feel guilty to love our children though. We certainly can live our lives with less guilt, with less stress, and with more happiness. Just like everything in life, it takes work. By following the following steps, you will be on your way to being able to take care of yourself with joy and experience things as they happen with less blame and more focus.
STEP 1: JUST DO IT! YOU DESERVE IT!
It is VITAL that us moms take time for ourselves and implement a self care routine, if you haven’t already. You can’t drink from an empty cup! We need to take care of ourselves in order to be the best moms we can be. Unfortunately, often times self care is followed by self doubt and mom guilt. In the grand scheme of things, it sounds crazy that we would feel guilty for taking care of ourselves, but it happens. We feel guilty for taking time for ourselves and away from our kids, for not cleaning or cooking because our bodies are craving self care, or maybe it’s because we’re spending money on ourselves at a spa and feel like the money could be better spent on the kids. MOM, YOU DESERVE IT! Because you’re reading this, I already know you’re not a mom who neglects their child by splurging on herself. There is nothing wrong with wanting more for your kids, but there is everything wrong with thinking you don’t deserve money to be spent on yourself.
I read something recently that said when we worry our minds are in the future, when we’re anxious or sad our minds are in the past, and when we’re content our minds are in the present. Why on earth would we waste our time living in the future or the past rather than the present?! Hey, I’m guilty of it too, but it does sound pretty crazy, doesn’t it?
STEP 2: IT’S IN THE PAST. DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO AND ENJOY THE PRESENT!
Okay, now what about those instances that you have little to no control over, like situations during pregnancy or childbirth? I experienced lots of mom guilt during both of my pregnancies. During the first I had borderline pre-eclamspia and while I knew that I didn’t do anything to cause it, the guilt was strong. I kept thinking that maybe it was the medications I was on, or the vitamins, or the food I ate. Unfortunately this carried over into my second pregnancy where I was determined to do the opposite of everything in the first pregnancy in an attempt to avoid pre-eclampsia. I didn’t end up with pre-eclampsia symptoms with my second which means doing the opposite either worked, or maybe I wouldn’t have had issues regardless. that’s besides the point. The point is that it’s not bad to say “I’m going to change things or do something in an attempt to prevent a situation from happening”. It gets troubling when there’s a lot of guilt attached to it. I didn’t experience pre-eclampsia the second time around, but there was still a lot of mom guilt around other health scares with the baby. The fact is that sometimes things happen that we truly can’t prevent, unless we live in a bubble and only eat organic food, drink clean water, and breathe clean air 24/7.
Similarly, we also need to be mindful about worrying about the future. If something hasn’t happened and may never happen, why waste our precious time focusing on it. If it’s something you think you can prevent, then go ahead and do what you can, but please don’t let it consume you. We should be spending our days enjoying life not constantly worrying about what might happen or stressing over what we could have done differently. Focus your time and energy on how you can have the best time right in this moment.
STEP 3: MOVE FORWARD. EXPRESS LOVE AND COMPASSION FOR YOURSELF. REMEMBER: YOU’RE A GREAT MOM!
The last reason for mom guilt is feeling guilty for something we could have prevented, like our child getting hurt. I feel this one is the hardest one to get over. Recently, I was at a local playground with some of my mom friends and their kids. My son was about 22 months old and had only been walking for a few months, due to being a late walker (cue more unnecessary mom guilt!). Anyway, it was a fenced in playground and I was letting him play and run around with the other kids. I looked over at him and saw that he was trying to climb down a ladder. I saw him do it earlier so I just kept an eye on him. As soon as I took my eyes off him, I heard his cry. He had fallen and landed on his back onto the metal platform below. I use a wheelchair and it wasn’t the most accessible place, so I couldn’t get to him as fast as I would have liked. My friend ran over and another dad had picked him up. He was just scared and was completely fine, but the mom guilt overcame me for a few minutes. “I should’ve went and grabbed him before he climbed down”, “I should’ve been right next to him, helping him”, “I should’ve only had him on the little toddler play set.” are all thoughts that went through my head. You know what though? He was fine and I think independence is good. He didn’t get hurt and he’s learning too. I’m not neglectful and I didn’t do anything wrong. I was able to remind myself of these and kick the mom guilt away. Of course, if he had really gotten seriously hurt the mom guilt would have lasted longer.
We can’t hover over our kids all day every day. They need some independence and need to fall sometimes. It’s how they learn. As I said above, you’re a great mom just for reading this. Guilt can certainly be overpowering especially if an injury or worse occurs. All we can do is remind ourselves, no matter how hard it is, that we did our best and in that moment we didn’t feel we were doing anything wrong. We need to take the blame off ourselves and give ourselves extra love and compassion instead in those difficult times.
Mom guilt is a tough one and I can’t promise you won’t ever experience it again, because you most likely will and that’s okay. If you follow these steps and recognize when it’s happening, then you can dramatically reduce it and even reduce how often you feel it. Please know it’s okay to be “selfish” sometimes, it’s okay to take care of yourself, and it’s okay if mistakes happen. Be more gentle to yourself and you’re sure to live a happier and more enjoyable life.
Meet The Author:
Lauren Dyer is a Spiritual Wellness & Transformational Coach for the mom who knows there’s more to life, but isn’t quite sure how to find it. She helps moms find time for self care, reduce the dreaded “mom guilt” and live a more meaningful and enjoyable life.She is a Spirit Junkie Masterclass student of NY Times “Best Selling Author”, Gabby Bernstein, has a BS in Healthcare Management, leads guided meditations, is a Young Living Essential Oils and Lifestyle Brand Enthusiast, and most recently received her Reiki Level 1 Certification.