When I worked full time outside of the home, I always had the thought – If I could just be a stay at home mom, all of this mom guilt would go away. Well, now I am on the other side of it. I’ve been a stay at home mom for 2 ½ years, and the mom guilt hasn’t gone away, it has simply taken on a new form. No matter what stage of mom life you are in – transitioning from 1 child to 2, working full time, being a stay at home mom, or dealing with those teenage years, we all deal with mom guilt.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the topic of mom guilt in hopes to provide you some really valuable information that goes far beyond my personal input as I am no expert on the subject. I am simply a mom, struggling with these feelings just like all of you. Through the research I have done and the people I talked to, I came to realize that mom guilt can actually be a positive and can bring about some really great, healthy outcomes. I believe, unfortunately, mom guilt will never entirely go away. It’s our human nature, but there are some great ways you can confront mom guilt, and create a plan of action.
With social media blasting in our faces every day, the comparison game is a struggle like never before. Although we know a picture on Instagram is just a quick snapshot with probably a lot of chaos going on in the background, our human nature doesn’t think about all of these dynamics. Instead, we focus on this one image, causing our minds to run wild. When you find yourself going there, turn it off, and focus on the GOOD in your life and your family. Sit down, make a list of everything you have to be thankful and watch your mindset shift.
Focus on Quality Time
Sometimes it is not the quantity of time we spend with our kids, but instead the quality of time we spend with them. I feel the most contentment and satisfaction when I leave my phone in the other room, sit on the floor with my kids and just play trucks or Barbie’s. For my daughter, my special time with her is bedtime. This is the time when she opens up to me the most. There are no distractions, just me and her laying in her bed having, at times, some very deep conversations. I cherish these moments with her and sometimes hope and pray they never go away. They are usually just 5 minute conversations, but the quality of this 5 minutes is huge.
Schedule Sacred Family Time
Life is crazy busy, and for some families, between sports, church functions, and other activities, the weekends and weekday nights are pretty jammed packed. This may mean that the one night a week that is free, may need to be your sacred family time. You don’t plan things with friends, or commit to other functions, it is your time with your family that is non-negotiable.
Remember You Can’t Always Give Your Child Everything They Will Need
This point came from a seasoned mom I had the opportunity to hear from recently. As our kids get older, we won’t be everything they need all the time. There will be other influencers in their life that have the ability to impact them in a way, we as parents may not be able to reach them. This can be very humbling as a parent. For our family, God is very much the center, and He is the foundation we have built our family on. I stand on His promises as my kids get older to know sometimes I may not be able to provide my kids the support they need depending on the season they are going through. But, I pray there will be other positive influences in my children’s life such as their youth pastor or small group leader that they can turn to in a time of need. These influencers may have a far more powerful impact than me, during certain seasons.
Shift Your Thought Process
Often times we get stuck on the negative of a situation. For example:
- I have to work because we can’t financially afford for me to stay home.
- I am not creative enough with my kids and just can’t measure up to how Amy Johnson plays with her kids.
Instead of focusing on the negative, shift your thinking. For example:
- I’m a bad mom for working instead My children are seeing me work hard
- I should be sitting on the floor playing Lego’s with them instead I am giving my children the opportunity to explore on their own
- I just yelled at my kids and feel terrible instead I am going to sit down and ask for forgiveness from my kids. This will be a teachable moment, as I explain that sometimes parent’s mess up too and we need to ask for forgiveness
Turning your mom guilt feelings into positive affirmations will give you a different, but real perspective. It is an intentional thought process that does not come naturally, but it can be powerful when you apply it.
Take a Break
Sometimes it’s healthy to listen to your mom guilt, stop what you are doing, and engage. It may be needed to take a 10-minute break from what you are doing, sit down on the floor with your kids and play doll’s or listen to them talk about their Xbox game. That 10 minutes of quality time may be all your child needs to feel fulfilled.
Keep a Bullet Journal
If you are not familiar with a bullet journal, it is simply using a journal to create bullet points of your to-do list. You create a to-do list each day, and anything that doesn’t get done on that day, gets added to the to-do list for the next day. This system goes along with my blog post here, on Organizing Your Life. I also love how Simple Living Mommy explains her bullet journal here. A bullet journal is a great way to put your to-do list on paper, so you can plan your day and find intentional, quality time to spend with your kids. You can even get very detailed and write, “Turn my phone off and spend 20 minutes doing a craft with my kids.” Plan in that quality time if it’s helpful to see it on paper.
Intentionally Build Your Child’s Confidence
Our kids thrive on positive affirmation. I recently came across a really great chart from Big Life Journal. Sometimes when we are feeling the mom guilt coming on full force, we need to intentionally affirm our kids. Below are 25 great ideas to build your child’s confidence.
Go Through a Big Life Journal with Your Kids
Expounding on point #8, a Big Life Journal is an amazing tool to help your kids recognize their ability to learn, feel motivated, and inspired. Sometimes the mom guilt comes when we don’t feel like we’re doing enough to inspire or create an atmosphere to have deep and meaningful conversations with our kids. A Big Life Journal is a great, intentional tool, to help guide those conversations and actions.
Learn to Apologize
There have been so many nights I have put my kids to bed with the thought, “I did a really bad job parenting today. I was snappy and raised my voice too much, when really, they were just being kids.” In these moments, I often just want to wake them up and ask for a do-over. But these are the moments I also need to apologize (even if it means the next day). Just like we teach our children the importance of apologizing, we too need to ask for their forgiveness at times. Amy McCready from Positive Parenting, talks about the 7 steps to apologizing to your child. It’s a quick read that is very helpful.
Nip Comparison Pride in the Butt
I recently heard from a mom that said,
“Sometimes mom guilt is pride based. When I’m around my crunchy mama friends, why can’t I be confident in the meal plan I’ve made for my family that week? Why am I hesitant to talk about our meals when they are talking about theirs? The answer is simple. Comparison pride.”
I never thought about mom guilt in a comparison pride way before. After I pondered on this, I realized, mom guilt truly can be pride based at times. Feeling like you don’t measure up to your organic, non-gmo friends, or stay-at-home mom who volunteers at the school 3 times a week. Forget all of that! Be confident in what you provide to your kids, knowing you are giving them your best, providing for their needs. At the end of the day, YOU are your child’s parent. You know what your child needs, and if you are fulfilling those needs, stop stressing the rest!
Mom Guilt is Actually a Good Thing!
It’s true! Mom guilt is not bad. It means that you care, it means that you have your child’s best interest in mind, and you want to make sure you are fulfilling their needs. Honestly, I hadn’t looked at mom guilt this way, until I started studying up on the topic. When I truly wrapped my mind around this concept, I felt a huge weight lifted off of me. I thought of mom guilt as a good thing, for once. The fact that you are analyzing your actions, thinking about how you can improve, is actually a good thing!!! So, next time you feel the mom guilt coming on (which may be in an hour!) remember, it’s okay! It means you love your child so much and want to make sure you’re doing the best you can. So breathe mama, you are doing GOOD!