Motherhood certainly can be challenging. While you wouldn’t trade your title of ‘mom’ for anything, there are certainly ups and downs. Unfortunately, when there are downs, that’s when the mom guilt can creep up.
Mom guilt is something that many moms experience throughout motherhood, but not all moms know what they are experiencing.
When you learn how to identify mom guilt and stop it in its tracks, you’ll find that those feelings become less frequent.
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What is Mom Guilt?
Mom guilt is feeling like you’re not doing things right or not doing enough as a parent. These feelings can stem from the opinions of people around you, having too high of expectations, and even from your own insecurities.
Mom guilt can be temporary thoughts here and there, like feeling bad when you take some time for yourself or not playing with your child enough that day.
On the other hand, mom guilt can show up in a more long-term form. For example, you feel as if you have been working too much in the last year or didn’t take advantage of the summer vacation enough with your kids.
One thing to keep in mind if you are experiencing mom guilt is that you are not alone.
Many moms experience mom guilt, and it doesn’t make you any less of a mom! Plus, moms aren’t the only parent who experiences guilt; dads can have the exact same feelings.
Common Sources Of Mom Guilt
There are many causes of mom guilt, and sometimes it can feel debilitating. When you know how to recognize your mom guilt and then take steps to help yourself feel better about the source, it can work wonders! The most common sources of mom guilt are:
1. Not Breastfeeding
Whether they can’t, or it’s not practical, many moms don’t breastfeed. With the common phrase of ‘breast is best,’ it’s obvious why moms would feel guilt over not breastfeeding. It’s essential to remember fed is best!
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2. Returning To Work
Going back to work after having a baby is another common source of mom guilt. While returning to work is necessary for most families, it’s easy to feel bad about not being with your child.
3. Juggling Household Tasks While Parenting
If you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, you might find yourself feeling guilty for doing chores instead of spending time with your child. On the other side, you could also feel bad for skipping household tasks and letting the house get messy.
Whichever way you are feeling, remind yourself that you’re doing what’s best for your family at that moment. If your kids need more attention, skip the chores. If your kids are content and you can get some things done, that’s great too.
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4. Losing Patience
It’s easy to feel guilt after losing your patience with anyone, let alone your child. We have all been there where you may yell at your kids or speak to them unkindly.
It’s unman nature to get frustrated at times and lose our temper, even to our own children.
In this situation, it’s best to apologize to your child and try to keep calm next time. There’s always room for improvement, so there’s no need to dwell on feelings of guilt.
The good news is, kids are so resilient and often forgive and forget. The feelings that may haunt you at bedtime of yelling at your child for spilling their cereal bowl, they may not even remember!
5. Hearing Unwanted Opinions
Mom guilt can show up quickly when people don’t agree with something and comment on your parenting. If the opinion comes from someone who doesn’t have your best interest in mind, try to shake off the comment and move on.
6. Comparing Yourself To Others
All moms have different situations and parenting styles, so comparing yourself to others might set you up to feel mom guilt. If you find yourself comparing, try to remind yourself of your parenting strengths!
7. Taking Time For Yourself
Especially as a first-time mom, it’s hard to take time for yourself. You don’t want to miss out on time with your baby, and if you’re not with your baby, there are many other things to do!
Try to remember that you have an identity outside of being a mom, and it’s important to keep doing the things you loved and enjoyed.
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How To Overcome Mom Guilt
It’s important to address these feelings and not just let them go unsettled. If you do, they may build up to worse feelings and emotions down the line. Here are some ways to get over that low feeling:
1. Identify The Source Of Your Mom Guilt
If you notice that you frequently have feelings of mom guilt, it might be time to find the source.
Sometimes, it can be easy to identify why you feel guilty, like if your kids have what you think is too much screen time. Other times, it’s not so clear-cut as to why you are feeling guilt. Here’s what you can do:
First, try tracking what’s going on when you start feeling mom guilt. For example, are you feeling poorly after spending too much time on Instagram? Does the guilt start after talking with friends who have a different lifestyle than yours?
By tracking what’s happening as you start to feel mom guilt, you can then begin to take steps to brush off the guilt.
With the examples above, you might be feeling like you aren’t doing enough for your child. The guilt might be stemming from seeing the different activities that people do with their kids. If that’s the case, you can start to identify the reasons why your lifestyle is the best for your family. Or, you can begin to make changes if needed.
2. Take Care Of Yourself
It’s often said that you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself. That couldn’t be more true!
When you take the time to care for yourself guilt-free, not only do you feel better, but your overall outlook improves. You might find that you have more patience, and you feel happier and more positive.
If you feel guilty when taking time for yourself, making self-care a part of your routine can help. When you do something regularly, it becomes second nature. Soon, you won’t even think twice about taking care of yourself.
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3. Limit Social Media
Taking regular breaks from social media is excellent for your mental health, whether you are a mom or not.
Often, social media highlights the good parts of everyone’s lives; you rarely see the difficult times. In reality, most moms have the same problems that you do. Not to mention, social media can become a huge time-waster. The less time you spend on it, the more time you have for other things that make you happy.
4. Confide In Someone You Trust
If you are struggling with mom guilt, it can be so helpful to talk to someone close to you. Whether it’s your partner, parents, or a friend, they can give you a point of view that you aren’t seeing.
For example, if I feel mom guilt about something, talking to my husband almost always makes me feel better. He sees things differently than I do, and can tell me if my guilt is rational or not.
Also, it can be eye-opening to talk to another mom about mom guilt. Finding that someone close to you has felt the same way can be comforting.
5. Share Responsibilities
If keeping up with household chores is contributing to your mom guilt, enlist some help! If you have a partner, ask them to take on a few more tasks. Or, if you’re a single mom, call your parents or a friend to see if they can watch your little one while you get a few things done.
Also, you might be surprised by how many chores your toddler can help with. Not only will you be teaching your child about household responsibilities, but they will have fun helping you!
6. Prioritize Quilty Time With Your Kids
If your mom guilt is rooted in feeling like you are missing out on time with your children, try prioritizing quality time with them. Quilty time is uninterrupted time spent with your children. It’s best to put any distractions away and focus on what your child is doing, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.
The most satisfying thing about quality time with your children is that both you and your kids will feel better afterward.
7. Decide If You Made A Mistake
Because mom guilt can come in many forms, you may have to stop and decide if you made a mistake, and that’s what’s causing your guilt.
For example, if you’re feeling mom guilt because you have to go to work, that’s not something that you can control. On the other hand, if you feel mom guilt because you lost your patience, that was most likely a mistake.
Once you’ve decided that you made a mistake, you can take action to make it right. Talk to your child about what had happened, and then work on taking steps to make it better next time.
8. Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Trying to stay positive works wonders on overcoming mom guilt! Though, it does take some work to keep positive.
The most straightforward way to stay positive when dealing with mom guilt is to celebrate your daily accomplishments. Focusing on what you did do makes what you didn’t do seem more trivial.
Did you get out of the house with your child? That’s great! Did you tackle the laundry that’s piled up? Awesome. No matter how big or small the task, it’s still an accomplishment, and it’s a fantastic thing to focus on.
9. Seek Professional Help For Mom Guilt
If your mom guilt is getting to the point where you can’t enjoy your days, try talking to a professional. They are there to help you and let you talk through your thoughts without judgment.
Mom guilt is normal, and it’s nothing you should be ashamed of. I once read, ‘You know you’re a good mom if you worry about being a good mom,’ and it stuck with me.
If you are concerned about how good of a mom you are, then you are putting thought into how you are raising your children. You are mindful of their happiness, and that’s wonderful.
Hi, I’m Rachel! I’m the mom behind Glad To Be Mama. I love sharing what I’ve learned throughout my days of being a stay-at-home mom and helping new moms navigate this unique time in their life. Follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram, and you’ll find helpful info on pregnancy, breastfeeding, and mom tips for raising babies and toddlers.