The Truth About Mom Guilt and How to Stop it From Running Your Life
Mom guilt is the Achilles Heel for mothers! It hits us almost every day and without fail sucks the fun and productivity right out of whatever we’re doing. I don’t know about you but I hate mom-guilt.
We feel guilty when our child struggles with anything. I mean, it’s our fault, right?
We feel guilty when we discipline our child. This hurts me more than it hurts you, we think as tears flow and pouty lips emerge.
We feel guilty when we encourage our child to do positive things that they may not want to do like trying out for sports, introducing themselves to a friend, or joining that new group at school. I am pushing them too hard?
We feel guilty when we know we’re enabling bad behaviors in our child just to allow a moment of quiet or get more sleep at night. I’m totally ruining my kid! Why can’t I just be stronger?
We feel guilty when we have our own kind of meltdown and yell at our kids. What can’t I control my emotions?!
We feel guilty when we give time toward our work, goals, and dreams that require us to sacrifice time and energy away from our family. Whether or not we love the work we do or are simply required to work for income. Guilt still finds its way in.
We either regret the things we’ve done or the things we wish we’d done. And the truth is, the cycle continues and won’t stop unless we stop it.
As a mom, you have the hardest job on the planet hands-down. And you should be free to do what you believe is right without having a monkey hanging on your back the whole time. And I’m not talking about your climbing toddler!
When I first became a mom, I was under attack EVERY DAY. I was so frustrated because I never felt free to really enjoy being the mom I always wanted to be. Every mistake was magnified – every failure was all my fault.
Related: How to Set Realistic Expectations When Motherhood is Hard
And because I’ve always been a working mom – I’ve had high functioning guilt for many years. But I’ve learned the truth about guilt and now I’m no longer working because I have to but because I love to. I’m free to enjoy my life!
Mom Guilt is Common but Not Normal
At times I felt like I wasn’t made for this mom thing. I mean, I never had any other moms come to me and say they were feeling the same way. So, I kept my feelings to myself because I already felt under-qualified for the position of mom.
We don’t always talk publicly about what shames us and chronic mom-guilt can leave you feeling broken and frustrated as a mom.
But I now know the truth!
My children have had their fair share of cold viruses and infections over the years and I’ve picked up a phrase I’ve heard doctors use when giving a diagnosis – it’s common but not normal. This means, whatever you’re experiencing affects a lot of people making it common. But the fact that it’s a condition your body isn’t supposed to “have” makes it abnormal.
That’s exactly what mom guilt is – common but not normal.
I’d venture to guess that millions of moms deal with some variation of mom-guilt every day. But just because it’s so common doesn’t mean we should take the attitude that it’s just par for the course.
We have the power to say no to all the labels our society throws around about raising a family. They say your child has to turn terrible when they reach two, will become a hormonal mess when they hit puberty, and angst is the typical attitude for a teenager. Basically – deal with it.
4 Steps to Getting Rid of Mom Guilt
We don’t have to go along with what’s common. How about we decide to go with what’s normal – the ways it’s supposed to be. So what is normal? In the context of my previous diagnosis example – normal is someone without any physical or mental disorders.
Abnormal is when there’s something going on that’s not supposed to or intended to be there. So again, just because a lot of moms struggle with mom-guilt doesn’t mean it’s supposed to or intended to be like that.
We have the power to choose whether we go along with the masses or to blaze our own trail. I kind of like doing my own thing, so trail-blazin’ I go! You with me?!
Give Yourself Permission To Do What You Believe is Right
The first step in the guilt-ridding process is to learn the art of giving yourself permission to do what you believe is right. If it’s homeschooling your child versus sending them to a traditional school – don’t allow the guilt of what they may be missing out on creep in.
If it’s not allowing your son to attend a sleepover because you just don’t have peace about it in your heart – know that your decision to obey your heart could be a matter of life or death for him. And don’t feel guilty just because he throws a fit.
If it’s picking up extra shifts at work to pay for them to go to a safe and quality school don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for the missed time together. As long as you’ve made a prayerful, quality decision you must know your toughest decisions are most often your child’s greatest advantage in life.
We have to make difficult decisions every day and second-guessing every one will simply steal your joy. Owning your decisions gives you the power to say no to guilt.
Yes, I said it. You have the power to say no to guilt. You do this by standing firm in your choices as a family and letting peace be your guide and final say. It’s our self-doubt and second-guessing that invites guilt right into our lives. Remember, be firm and confident!
The Ultimate Guide to Being a Calmer Mom No Matter How You Feel
Give Yourself Permission to Live in the Moment
The other side of giving yourself permission is to choose to live “in” the moments of your life. That means if you’re a work-at-home mom and you’re rocking your fussy baby back to sleep for the third time in one nap session and you’re tempted to dwell on the work time you’re missing out on – choose to be in that moment.
Instead of holding her in your arms and being frustrated in your mind – stop. Look at that sweet baby of yours and take in the moment. Remind yourself that your baby won’t be this little forever. Don’t allow these unplanned moments to be a mental complaint session but instead to become a bonding moment.
Give yourself permission to be fully in the moment of whatever you’re doing. If it’s a shower, turn up the music, lather up some aromatherapy suds, and stand under the water longer than you should. Basically, live it up!
If you’re in the park with your kids – play with them! Don’t just sit on the bench watching like all the other parents.
If you’re sitting down completing a work project – stay focused and don’t get distracted (unless it’s the kids, of course.) 😉 Don’t let the attraction of social media, for example, pull you away from your precious work time.
When you make a conscious choice to stay committed to the current moment – it’s like kicking guilt in the face and right out the front door. And that’s where we want it to stay!
This happens because you’re making the choice to not be swayed between two things – this or that. Instead, you choose this. And to take it even further you decide not to just go through the motions but to soak in every drop of your life.
Give Yourself Grace
And finally, in those times when you didn’t do what was best, you must give yourself grace. And there will be plenty of these times to practice. That’s because you’re not perfect and will never be. When you miss the mark you need to forgive yourself.
In the same way we give our kids grace when they don’t make the right choices, we must do the same for ourselves. If your child made a simple mistake because of a poor choice – you may be disappointed or upset – but you’d never give up on them or write them off as a horrible kid.
So why do we so easily write ourselves off as horrible moms? We need grace, too. From ourselves.
Related: How to Get Your Kids to Listen Without Yelling
Make a Plan for Your Choices
The final way to get rid of mom-guilt forever it to make a plan for your choices and how you spend your time. So much of those guilty feelings come as a result of being overextended and having all the many areas of our lives blend together like a really bad stew. Yuck!
Our lives desperately need boundaries. It’s not so much about balance (don’t have time to get into that here) but more about having healthy boundaries for the things that are most important to you and your family.
If you take the time to create a plan for how you actually want to spend your time you’ll gain a lot more peace and experience less stress and anxiety. You can then give yourself permission to live according to your plan and can make daily adjustments as needed.
Comment and let me know how you handle mom-guilt or maybe share your biggest struggle with it. Let’s share and kick this guilt out of our lives forever!