Mommy guilt is a massive phenomenon these days. Moms (and some dads) always find a way to feel guilty about something, and most of the time it is a never-ending cycle.
For example, if I spend all morning working on my business, I feel guilty because I haven’t taken care of the house and the laundry has piled and the dishwasher is still loaded…; if I decide to spend all morning taking care of the house, I feel guilty because I haven’t dedicated time to my business; if I decide to go volunteer to my daughters’ school, then I feel guilty because I haven’t worked on my business, or taken care of the household. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? In all cases, there are reasons why I should feel happy and accomplished, but the predominant feeling, most days, is GUILT.
This happens to most of us, we can always find a reason to feel guilty about. If we work outside the home, we feel guilty for missing school events, for not being able to help our kids with homework, take them to after school activities or put them to bed… If we are full time stay at home moms, we feel guilty for not contributing financially to the household, for not being an example of a working woman to our kids… We can always find ways to make ourselves feel guilty.
The problem with feeling guilty is bifold. In one hand, we feel horrible about ourselves, which only makes us feel more and more horrible about ourselves. On the other hand, these feeling inevitably pours out contaminating our family life and family dynamics.
How do we fix it? How do we get rid of this mommy guilt?
Well, I’m not sure, we can fully rid ourselves of it, but there are certainly a few practical things we can to keep it as bay as much as possible:
1. Take care of ourselves. I know I sound like a broken record, but it all goes back to our physical, emotional and mental health. It all starts with us, and we need to have our cup full.
2. Find the good in you. Every day, make sure you sit down and write all the good things and accomplishments you’ve had as a mother. Nothing is too little or insignificant. This will give you perspective. Yes, there are things that you haven’t accomplished. Yes, there are things where you messed it up. BUT, you have accomplished many things! Remember those! After weeks of doing this, you’ll start shining a different light on your performance as a mother, I promise!
3. Don’t compare yourself with others. Comparison is the thief of joy. We all know that! Then, why do we compare our lives to the ones our friends or neighbors post about on Facebook or Instagram? We each have different circumstances and aspirations. What compare? Even if comparing was healthy (which is not), that is a really unfair comparison. We are comparing our ‘behind the scenes, messy life’, with their ‘picture-perfect’, ‘stage-ready’ moments of their lives. Its not a fair comparison, and we need to stop doing it.
Sometimes, when I am feeling specially guilty or bad about my role as a parent, I put myself on a social media diet. The simple fact of distancing myself from those beautiful pictures of other people’s life helps me find perspective on my own life.
4. Let go of the idea of the perfect parent. I am sorry to break it down to you, but there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all make mistakes, we all have good and bad days, we all get sick, we all mess up, we all make bad decisions at times… We are imperfect human beings, raising imperfect human beings. It is going to be messy at times.
Having the expectation that every single moment of motherhood needs to be filled with joy, smiles, organization, tenderness… is not only absurd, but it is harmful to us. It is the main source of guilt for most of us. This unattainable idea of what a perfect mother is, is what is causing us so much pain. We need to let go go that idea!
We can (and should) strive to be the best parent we can be, we can work on ourselves, we can learn new ways to better parent our children, we can improve our behavior, we can change our family dynamics… we can be amazing parents, we can be the best parents to our individual children; but we will never be PERFECT, because there is no such thing.
5. Have a sense of humor. My husband will probably laugh when he reads this, because I don’t have the biggest sense of humor in our home (one of my daughters and him do!). However, I see the value in it. I see the value to finding humor in our messes. It lightens the situation and helps us accept ourselves as imperfect human beings.
Besides, when we have a sense of humor about our shortcomings, when we are with our kids, they learn not to take themselves so serious. They also learn that we all make mistakes, and that mistakes are good as long as you learn from them. They also learn that when we mess things up, we can always find a way to make it better.
Mommy-guilt is a terrible disease that many of us suffer, and that robs us from enjoying our children’s lives and our own lives. I’m making a vow to work on these 5 steps to reduce my mommy guilt. Will you join me?
Much love, Diana-