4 Reasons to Ditch the Mom Guilt
At some point during parenthood, many mothers are seized by mom guilt-- the feeling of anxiety, nervousness or guilt that you are not doing enough as a parent or are somehow failing your children. You might feel anxious that you gave your kids takeout for dinner for the second time this week, or maybe you see online that by your child’s age, they should be bilingual. Or perhaps you feel like because you go to work, you don’t spend enough time with your kids, which makes you think you're a bad mother.
Whatever the thought or worry, mom guilt can be brought on by many different factors, whether it is social media, other parents, or even your own parents. Sometimes, a moment with your child that you felt you didn’t handle correctly will sound the alarm. No matter where the guilt is coming from, it can be difficult to switch out of this thinking. However, there are a few things that may help to hear.
Be the parent your child needs you to be
First and foremost, the idea that there is such a thing as a “perfect mom” is completely not true. Perfection in parenthood is unattainable. Sometimes, we don’t have the time or capacity to make balanced dinners because, frankly, mom's don't always like vegetables either. Sometimes, we lose our patience and yell at our kids when they ask “are we there yet?” for the 10th time in the last hour during a car ride. Sometimes, we feel angry that it is the middle of the night and the baby is crying for the fifth time. Or sometimes, we just have no idea if we’re making the right decision.
As parents, we make mistakes and may get a little emotional from time to time--know that you aren’t a failure or a “bad mom” because of it. And also know that just because another mom may seem like she is doing so much more than you, that does not mean you are not doing enough. Each family situation is different. The important things are learning from your mistakes, apologizing when you let your emotions get the best of you, and remembering that you are the parent your child needs you to be.
Making time for yourself is important
Despite what you might hear, it is okay to sometimes feel overwhelmed or touched out or in need of time away from your kids. Raising kids is exhausting---physically, mentally, and emotionally. And giving yourself permission to prioritize YOU is not selfish; it is important. To be the best parent for your child, you need to take care of yourself too. Allowing yourself to rejuvenate might even help with some of the things that triggered your mom guilt-- you might feel like you have more patience or you may have more energy to spend time in the moment with your child.
Your reason for going to work is the right one for your family
Many mothers can be hit with mom guilt because they work. Maybe you took some time off when your kids were very young, but now you want to get back in the workforce. Or maybe, you have never taken time off work and began the journey of motherhood while working - as many mom’s have to, or choose to do. But whatever your scenario, know that your reason for going to work is valid.
Having a job to go to does not mean that you are a bad mother who does not prioritize your children. It may mean that you ARE prioritizing your children by having a job. It is possible for you to provide for your family and/or continue with your career goals while you help your kids reach their goals. If you are feeling like you don’t have enough time with your kids, prioritize the quality of the time that you do have. Carve out time to be with your kids undistracted--no phones or tablets-- and let them choose what to do with you for even just 20 minutes.
It takes a village
As humans, we thrive when we feel connected to others. Remembering this point alone will help you ditch that mom guilt for good! You need connections with your peers, co-workers, and friends--having strong, positive connections helps you feel better! Your kids need connections, too-- with their peers and other positive, supportive adults-- to help them grow into the best big humans they can be! Parents and kids BOTH need the support and encouragement of their villages when life gets difficult.
Asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a mother. If anything, it means that you are using your social supports to be the parent your child needs, you're giving yourself permission to take care of yourself, and you're prioritizing your family! So, reach out to your friends, other parents, or family members when you need help or even just to chat before life gets overwhelming-- it truly takes a village to raise a child-- and support that child's parents-- so that we can all be the best versions of ourselves and can continue to be the best parents for our children.