Mom guilt: don’t tell moms to ditch it

Mom guilt happens

If you’re here for all the tips for how to ditch your mom guilt, you’re going to be disappointed. I am going to be singing the praises of it here. Try this if you want to read about ditching the guilt.

The biggest challenge I am going to give you related to mom guilt is this: try to figure out what it is telling you about yourself or your values. Then see if you can honor those same values in another way, minus the guilt.

It is unlikely that you will get through life as a parent and not experience guilt a few times.

My goal is not to discuss every mom guilt topic (unfortunately there are a lot of them) but to highlight some ways that this guilt tells a positive story.

Read on for some common mom guilt scenarios and some very real positive takeaways that come with it.

Mom guilt scenario: feed the baby

mom guilt feeding methods🔹Feeding methods is a hot button topic. What and how you you feed your baby is a very personal decision.

Only you and your parent partner know what method of feeding is best for your situation. And it can change over time (usually it does).

✅This post is NOT about that discussion. It is about what the strong emotions are saying about us as moms.

🔹Hidden value #1: Mom guilt means that I care A LOT. I berate myself for choices I made because I want the absolute best for my child and I worry that my choices were harmful or at the very least could have been better. 

When feeling guilty over feeding methods, either chosen or not, try to remind yourself that your feelings are rooted in your deep love and adoration for your precious baby. You are making the choice with circumstances and information you have at this time and either of those things can (and likely will!) change over time.

Mom guilt scenario: work decisions

mom guilt workingOver my tenure as a mom I have worked the full spectrum:

✅full-time SAHM

✅full-time working out of the home mom

✅part-time work out of home and part-time SAHM

✅And like most during Covid, I have done the “I work at home and am a stay at home parent and a homeschool teacher and…..”

In addition to personal experience, I have also been a listening ear to clients who struggle with work decisions once they become parents. It is incredibly complex and no two situations are the same. And choice isn’t always part of the story. I have worked with families in which medical circumstances necessitated a parent being home with the child. Additionally, I have worked with families whose financial situation required both parents earn income. 

But there is guilt all around.

🔹Hidden value #2: It tells me about my values. And crazy enough, I can deeply value my children and their well-being AND value my career and my ability to extend my impact in the world beyond my family.

I can also almost guarantee that you would carry some form of guilt no matter your work situation. But if you can find a way to make space in your mind to believe that you ultimately have many values at play here (and one such value may simply be, we need my income), hopefully some of the unpleasant guilt will move on.

Screen time guilt?

mom guilt kids screenScreen time is one of my biggest mom guilt triggers. I worked very hard with my first born to limit his screen time. It was a big deal to me to keep him from watching any TV or movies until he was 2 and then after that I kept it to 30 minutes or less for a long time. Even now, it is one of my biggest challenges as his mom and he’s 12 so screens are life.

Thankfully, I don’t parent alone and my husband has a different perspective on screen time so he challenges my negative bias in this area regularly. With our second born, I took a very different approach to screens and as a result, she isn’t as tuned into spending time on one. I have also learned over the years that the screen is a tool, one that has pitfalls and benefits so this more balanced approach has helped me.

🔹This is one topic that I could ALMOST be convinced we need to drop mom guilt over completely. Especially for parents of more than 1 child. Bringing home an infant to a household with an older sibling is challenging on many levels and sometimes screens are absolutely necessary.

🔹If screen time helps you function, gives you a chance to feel like a human (i.e. shower, sleep, eat, poop), gives you a chance to give individual attention to one child at a time, then try to remember this mom guilt value:

🔹Hidden value #3: It shows that I value my well-being and sanity. It tells me that I matter, too, and that a functioning parent is important to the well-being of my children.

Did you play with them enough?

   mom guilt children playingOur world has done such a good job of making us believe that we aren’t good moms unless we provide enriching playtime experiences for our children. With all the best toys and definitely with us playing, too.

I have carried serious mom guilt over this topic. With my first kid, I made playing with him a major priority. Then as he grew up, I realized that he doesn’t have the best ability to entertain himself (enter mom guilt).

With my second kid, I made a different choice, intentionally. Even though I could have played with her just as much as my son, I made a point of not doing it so she could learn to entertain herself. And I am proud to share that she is quite able to entertain herself.

Hello my old friend mom guilt. Only this time it is about why didn’t I do that with my son!

✅We feel guilty that our past self did things a certain way.

✅When we know better we do better that is all we can do.

✅Moms are human, too.

✅This means we screw up and try again.

Hidden value #4: It shows that I am growing and improving. Working to become a better mom on a daily basis. My guilt lets me know that I am still growing as a mom.

Guilt is not a bad thing

The truth is guilt is motivating. It is inspiring. Guilt lets us know what matters and helps us to grow. If you are able to see what your guilt is telling you about your values or how it is motivating for you, it may free you from feeling miserable and help you strategize ways to prioritize your values without the motivating fire of guilt.

The problem that comes with guilt is when it is paralyzing or starts to turn into shame. If you find yourself, being plagued with guilt, making it difficult to make decisions or take action, it may be useful for you to talk to someone. Contact me today to schedule an initial assessment.