In today’s culture, it’s very common for women to suffer from mom guilt.
In fact, mom guilt is such a universal feeling that you can find articles about it in publications like The Huffington Post, Parenting, Baby Center, and WebMD–just to name a few! The moment you bring a little person into the world, every decision you make affects them. That’s a lot of pressure, especially for moms who often bear the majority of responsibility for nurturing and teaching their children.
Unfortunately, this guilt does nothing to improve the quality of our parenting. In fact, the stress and distraction it causes can rob us of all the joy of being a mom! So, how do we balance all the elements of our very full lives and continue to give our kids the best of our time and attention?
First, it’s important to take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep (as much as you can!), exercise, eat well, spend time with your friends, and do things you enjoy. Why? As Clinical Psychologist Barbara Greenberg aptly puts it, “when we are running on empty we are prone to irritability and even to saying things to our kids that we regret. When we are exhausted we are also likely to be less present in the moment…” Being exhausted, stressed, and emotionally sapped does nothing for our kids and leaves us with an overwhelming sense of mom guilt. When we are rested and healthy, we can focus the best of our energy on the time we get to spend with our kids.
Second, we have to let go of the things we cannot control. When it comes to parenting, it’s easy to think that we need to control every detail of our child’s life. The truth is that we have very little control over anything, least of all this little human with a mind of their own. We have to decide what matters and what doesn’t. By designating the things that are really important to us, we are able to focus our energy rather than spreading ourselves too thin. Is family dinner important to you? Focus on that. Is game night important? Focus on that. Discover what gives you the best opportunity to show your child love and run with it. Prioritize everything else as it comes. Some weeks will be easier than others. That’s just the way life goes.
Lastly, focus on the things you’re doing. It can be easy to focus on the negative–the milestones you miss, the school events you can’t be part of–and that is where so much of our guilt comes from. Author Liz O’Donnell wrote a great piece on replacing our mom guilt with thoughts that focus on the positive things we’re accomplishing. What opportunities have you given your children? How do you spend the time you have with them? Replace the negative with the positive and be kind to yourself.
When guilt comes creeping in, silence it with the truth. You’re a good mom and you’re doing your best every day. Remember that every mom struggles to balance their professional and personal life. You’re not alone in this. Be patient with yourself as you learn how to be the best mom and professional you can be.