I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I imagined the joy of guiding a little one to be their best self. The satisfaction of continuing my family tree. The reward of unconditional love. But, what I didn’t anticipate is the mom guilt.
The thought never crossed my mind. I’d done my mama research. My friends, family, and co-workers filled our home with all the must-have baby contraptions. I’ve got this!
Then, your sweet child arrives in your arms and all hell breaks loose.
Your little one takes a nap. You tell your exhausted self, “Oooh, I need to do the laundry.”
Your toddler prefers mac & cheese over veggies. – You tell your foodie self, “I’ve failed to nourish my kiddo.”
There is a work project to finish. – You tell your hardworking self, “I really should be playing with my kids / cleaning the house / exercising.” (you get the picture)
OMG, I’ve faced each of those… and more on a seemingly daily basis. Worst part is all of this mama guilt starts to pile-up. For me, it got to the point that I didn’t even realize I was swimming through it, trying to catch my breath.
OK, girly… this has to stop.
As women, we’re already hard on ourselves. With self-deprecation and criticism a part of our culture, the last thing we need is to layer-on a bunch of mom guilt as we enter our new life stage.
The worst part? 99.999% of this mom guilt junk is self-created. Yup. We’re the ones telling ourselves that we’re not doing enough.
It’s time to make it all stop and give ourselves the big, fat break that we all deserve.
You Shouldn’t Have to Deal with Mom Guilt
Trust me, I’ve been a sucker for mom guilt just as much as the next gal. Yet, as I’ve gotten through a few years of motherhood (now, with teens and a 5yo), I’m learning to let-loose of the mom guilt noose.
Based on my own experience and talking with tons of moms, here are the top three mom guilt traps that I want to help all of my mom friends escape.
Trap #1: You’re not using your ‘free time’ the right way
This happens so often! Mama finally gets a break: little one napping, older kids at school, a teenager at soccer practice. Yet, instead of taking that window of time to do something for yourself, you feel the need to check-off a chore from your list. That’s mom guilt sneaking-in.
If it’s mentally easier (aka: the guilt load is lighter), plan ahead for your ‘free time’ in advance. Sure, nap time could be for laundry, school time could be for work.
Yet, when soccer practice rolls around, bring an indulgent book and read it in the car. (NO, I didn’t say grab your laptop and clean-out your work email.) If you’ve got a littler one to watch while an older sibling is at practice, bring along something to keep them entertained in the car while you zone out in your book.
Even better, you can designate a block of free time for yourself in each day. Get up 30 minutes earlier, stay up a tad-bit later… your call. Heck, you can even add 15 minutes to your ‘running the errands’ time to sit in your car outside of Target and just scroll through TikTok without guilt. (been there, done that)
Most importantly, find 15-30 minutes per day that will work for you and make it a non-negotiable. It’s going to happen. Your kids and/or partner should know how important this time is and be able to support your break.
Trap #2: Flip-Flopping Priorities
When you’re working, you feel guilty not being with your kids. When you’re with your kids, you feel guilty about not working. Sound familiar?
This challenge is even worse during the summer months or, during a pandemic quarantine. Everyone is around all-the-flipping-time. Then, mama is expected to be cook, entertainer, laundromat and diplomat 24/7. (oh yeah, and finish that big work project)
Plus, feel guilty when you can’t actually do all-the-things all-the-time.
This is where time blocking comes into play. You want to segment your day into specific activities. Work time, play time, cooking time, chores time and of course… mama ‘free time’ that I mentioned earlier.
Since all of this mom guilt stuff is likely coming from your own head, establishing boundaries will help you give yourself grace.
“No, Mama can’t play right now, this is her work time. See this other block on my calendar? That’s when we get to play together… now scoot and find something to do.”
By providing yourself these blocks of times, you’re less likely to feel guilty because you’re doing what you’re supposed to do at any given moment. Plus, it gives your family phenomenal training on how they can plan their own days. (My 5yo is now enjoying her self-proclaimed ‘princess time.’)
Trap #3: “I’m not doing enough.”
My overachieving single-girl self entered motherhood with all engines blazing. Then, I soon wore myself out by trying to be super mom, super wife and super entrepreneur.
I kept thinking that the house had to be perfectly organized, dinner needed to be well-balanced and birthday parties should be flawless.
Do you know what I eventually realized?
My kids didn’t care. My husband didn’t notice.
I’m the only one that established ridiculously high expectations for how I managed our home and lives. I’m the only one that piled-on the mom guilt when I didn’t meet those expectations.
Now, I’m the only one that can release myself from this cycle of mom guilt; allowing myself to simply be content and happy.
Let’s Stop All This Mom Guilt
Please, please, please… consider these common traps and solutions the next time you get a weight of mom guilt in your stomach. It’s crazy how common it is to feel guilty that you’re not doing enough. Just remember that your family simply wants you. The real you. The happy, healthy you.
Shove mom guilt aside and just be you. That’s the BEST thing you can do for your family.
Has guilt turned into stress and overwhelm? Check-out my post on “3 Simple Stress Management Activities” for ideas to help you shake the stress.