Let’s face it – being a mother is hard work. From the time your child is born until the day he or she moves out of the house, you try to be the best parent you possibly can be. And no matter how many parenting books you read, or internet sites that you browse, you are going to make mistakes. It happens. We are human.
Parenting never goes as you plan it. Your children will grow up and make their own decisions – some you’ll be proud of, others that will cause you lots of grief. Your marriage will have ups and downs while this happens, and as a mom, you will feel guilt. The infamous Mommy Guilt affects everyone. Except for women who just don’t care. (Read related post: Mom Abandons Children, Writes Memoir.)
Whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, you will probably experience the mom guilt trip. So how do you handle it?
Here are 7 tips to beat the mom guilt trip:
1. Chill out.
Being a parent is hard enough, so don’t stress yourself out. You’re going to have mommy guilt no matter what you do. The mom guilt trip is almost inescapable – sorry to tell you this. If you’re a working mom, you probably feel guilty that you’re not spending enough time with your children. And when you’re a stay-at-home mom, you might feel guilty that you’re not contributing financially or you may have guilt about all the stress your husband is under. But no matter if you’re a working mom or SAHM, you will probably worry that you’re not doing enough.
But enough is enough. Don’t allow the mommy guilt to overtake your life. Like the old saying goes, “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Just chill out and accept the truth that you’ll make mistakes, and most likely, your children will grow up to be amazing, wonderful people. You are doing the best that you can do! You are a good parent.
Repeat after me: “I am a good mom.”
2. Vent to other moms.
Your husband can be a great listener, but he’s never going to understand the mom guilt trip for one simple reason – he’s a guy, a father … Not a mom. Talking to other moms may help you feel less guilty. Other mothers know what it’s like to deal with the mommy guilt trip. They can sympathize and share their own personal stories with how they’ve dealt with guilt. Sharing stories and expressing your feelings to other moms in the same boat often helps you feel better, and it can definitely help you beat the mom guilt trip.
Blogging is another great outlet, and there are a ton of mom bloggers out there. (Check out my Mom Blog Directory for a lovely list for 200+ blogs from real mothers and their parenting experiences.)
3. Don’t compare your kids to others.
Realistically, it’s tough to not compare yourself to others. It’s easy to get jealous of other parents’ successes. So what if their children started talking by 9 months? So what if their kids started walking before yours did? Don’t compare your children to other people’s children. It’s not healthy for you as a mom.
Remember that every child is unique, and they pass baby milestones at different rates. Each child has different strengths and weaknesses, and they will grow up to have their own personalities. Allow your children grow and become who they are, and don’t let the “mompetition” get you down.
Some moms are real braggers. This can make you feel dejected, and intensify the mommy guilt inside you. But here’s an easy solution – stop hanging out with these moms. Don’t set up play dates with their children (unless your kids really love their kids). Surrounding yourself with negative, braggy moms will just make your life more miserable.
Again, repeat after me: “I am a good mom.”
If your next-door neighbor is a stay-at-home mom who makes all her meals from scratch, and you’re a dedicated working mom, don’t compare. That’s just setting up you and your children up for a lot of disappointment. There are a lot of parenting styles out there, and you are doing what you think is best for your children, your family, your specific situation. Never compare yourself to others!
4. You are not responsible for your children’s actions.
This is very important to remember – you are not responsible for everything that your kids do. Just because you gave birth to your child, this does not mean that you must feel guilty for every wrong thing your child does. In case you haven’t noticed, kids have a mind of their own and they are gonna do what they feel like. You can give them the best advice in the world, but they’re not always going to listen to them.
You can ease the mommy guilt by accepting that you are doing the best that you can. You taught your children right from wrong, but he is still going to make mistakes. He is still going to act out of turn. You may still be embarrassed at what he did, but you do not control your child. So don’t feel guilty when your kids act opposite of what you have taught them.
5. Sometimes, you need to play hooky.
Despite the fact that you’re struggling with mommy guilt, you have to realize that it’s OK to take a day off and enjoy yourself. A burnt-out mom equals an unhappy, cranky mom . . . and that doesn’t benefit your children.
So when you’re feeling extremely stressed and burnt out, just know that it’s perfectly fine and healthy for you to take some time for yourself. Go and meet with your friends, or go on a shopping excursion sans children. Take a short breather, hire a babysitter, and just enjoy some “you” time. And don’t feel guilty about this either. You can’t be the best mother if you’re cranky, or feeling resentful, or just plain unhappy.
6. Look on the bright side.
If you are a working mom, you may have the mom guilt trip that you’re missing out on precious moments of your children’s life. You might feel guilty for not spending enough time with your kids and family. But resist the urge to think that the grass is always greener on the other side. Stay-at-home moms can have as much stress as a working mom. (It is just a different type of stress). So look on the bright side and stay positive. Make a list of what’s positive about your life, and don’t dwell on what can’t be.
Plus, keep in mind that no one knows what the future holds. So if you must be a working mom now, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Who knows – maybe you will win the lottery. Just stay positive. Positivity will help you be a much better mother. (And remember that it could always be worse. You have a good situation!)
7. Learn to let go.
To help you beat mommy guilt, you have to learn to let go. You cannot be everywhere at once. You are only one person. There are days that you will feel like you’re not the best mom, but there are other days where you’ll say, “I am a dang good mom.” Let go of what you can’t control, and learn to be happy with your specific life situation.
Happiness Equals Being a Good Mother.
You might disagree with my thoughts on this subject. So, tell me: how do you handle mommy guilt? What are your tips and suggestions?