Mom guilt is a b*tch. There, I said it. I don’t know of a single mother that has not experienced mom guilt at some point or another. It can be consuming and overwhelming. I can’t even tell you how guilty I felt that I couldn’t breast feed my son past 4 months. I just couldn’t produce enough milk for him no matter what I did to try to improve that. I had to supplement with formula since he was a newborn because otherwise he would be underfed. I can recall more than one instance when I revealed that I supplemented with formula or had gone to formula-only feeding and got the side-eye from someone nearby. Some people would even start to list the reasons I should’ve kept with it and tried that 6th lactation consultant or that miracle supplement that would produce milk but compromise my health. On top of that, I was feeling like a failure because I couldn’t sustain my child naturally. Everything around me seemed to constantly remind me that “breast is best” and it was a very difficult time, to say the least. Like I said, mom guilt is a b*tch.
Mom guilt comes in many forms. You feel like crap because you snapped at your kid because they played in the toilet after you’ve told them A MILLION times not to. You feel guilty that you’re going to work and can’t spend as much time with your kids as some stay-at-home moms you know. You feel guilty that you can’t buy those expensive shoes for your kids because money is tight right now. Susie Natural makes all of her own baby food and does completely organic, preservative-free feeding and accuses you of feeding your child poison because you’d prefer to buy the pre-made stuff instead of losing any precious time with your kids. None of these things should make you feel guilty. But sometimes they do.
Mom guilt comes from two different sources: internal and external sources. Internal sources are usually caused by our programming growing up, such as dynamics within our childhood homes and expectations set forth by society. But, there’s always that lovely self-induced sense of guilt or unworthiness within us as well. External guilt sources are like those formula feeding judgers and Susie Natural I mentioned above. It could also come from expectations of those close to you. For example, what they expect your motherhood to look like vs. how it actually looks.
We all feel a little mom guilt from time to time. The trick is to not stay stuck in those feelings and be able to move past it. Here are the top 3 ways I handle mom guilt and move through it.
1. Remember That Quality > Quantity
Studies have shown that the quality of the time spent with your children is far more important to their sense of security and development than the quantity of time you spend. So, when you’re feeling guilty for taking time for yourself, remember this. When you’re preparing to go to a mom conference and get away for a weekend, make some time to have quality interactions with your children before you go. Keep your focus with them, put the phone down, turn off the TV, and engage for even 15 minutes. This kind of quality time together should have you feeling confident to go do your thing without feeling like you’re abandoning your children. They just want quality time with you whenever you’re able to give it.
2. A Happy Healthy Momma Is The Ideal Momma
When you are taking care of yourself, you are the best version of yourself. Therefore, you are the best momma you can be. Taking care of yourself can happen in many different ways and needs to be guilt-free. When you are refreshed and keep your stress levels down, you will be a better mom. That shouldn’t be the only reason you take care of yourself, but think of it more as a happy side effect. Allow yourself to feel confident in the choices that are best for your family. Don’t compare yourself to another mom that has a totally different family and situation than yours. What works for them won’t always work for you and vice versa. Remember this, and don’t feel guilty for having a different way of doing things from anyone else.
3. Discern Whose Opinions Truly Matter
A lot of people are going to have an opinion on your parenting. The passerby in the grocery store, the person sitting in front of your child on the airplane, your own parents and friends, to name a few. Then there are the influencers all over the internet and on TV that tout certain parenting styles and you can feel judged because your style is different or you haven’t been doing whatever they say is necessary for all parents to do. I make it a point to try not to ever tell anyone how to parent their child. Obviously if abuse is happening or something like that, I’ll speak up. But otherwise, it’s none of my business. In the same way, it’s none of the people I mentioned above’s business how you parent your child. Remember whose opinion actually matters. If you have some close family and friends that you consider great parents, you may value their input or suggestions. Consider their opinion only if you’re seeking it or stuck in some situation that you want help with or advice on. Otherwise, as Rachel Hollis says, “Don’t let someone in the cheap seats have an expensive opinion on your life.” They don’t matter. They don’t know your family or your situation and their opinion of you is worthless.
Be strong and confident in your parenting, Momma. As long as you are making decisions for the betterment of your family and your children’s lives, you’re doing just fine. Keep up the great work!
Much love and guilt-free vibes,
Momma Caped Nerd ❤
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