As I sit down at my makeshift home office to start another day of work, I can’t help but feel a familiar pang of guilt in my chest.
My toddler, who’s supposed to be playing quietly in the next room, is instead glued to the TV screen, watching yet another episode of Paw Patrol.
Despite my best intentions, I just can’t seem to keep her entertained while I juggle work deadlines and Zoom meetings.
And the more TV she watches, the more I feel like a failure as a mom. Does this sound familiar?
As a busy mom, I know all too well the feeling of mom guilt. It’s that nagging voice in your head that tells you you’re not doing enough, not being present enough, not perfect enough.
It can feel overwhelming and all-consuming, leaving you feeling drained, stressed, and disconnected from your own needs.
But I’ve learned that there are ways to overcome mom guilt and prioritize my well-being, and I want to share them with you.
In this post, I’ll outline four important steps to help you identify the source of guilt, challenge negative thoughts, prioritize self-care, and seek support.
These steps have helped me feel more empowered and less alone on my motherhood journey, and I hope they can do the same for you.
So if you’ve ever felt mom guilt, keep reading – there is hope and a way forward.
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Identify the source of guilt
Identifying the source of mom guilt can be tough, but it’s an important first step in overcoming it. For me, mom guilt often stems from feeling like I’m not doing enough for my kids or not being present enough when I’m with them.
It can also come from comparing myself to other moms on social media or in my community and feeling like I don’t measure up. And sometimes, it’s just a general sense of self-doubt and anxiety about my abilities as a mother.
To identify the source of your own mom guilt, try to pay attention to when and where it tends to show up. Is it triggered by certain situations or events, like missing a school event or forgetting to pack a healthy snack?
Does it tend to be more intense during certain times of the day or week, like during the morning rush or on weekends? And what are the underlying beliefs or assumptions that fuel your guilt, like “good moms always put their kids first” or “if I don’t do everything perfectly, I’m a failure”?
By becoming more aware of the specific triggers and beliefs that contribute to your mom guilt, you can start to challenge them and find more compassionate and realistic ways of thinking about yourself and your role as a mother.
Challenge the guilt
Once you’ve identified the source of your mom guilt, the next step is to challenge it.
For me, this often involves questioning the negative thoughts and beliefs that fuel my guilt and trying to reframe them in a more positive and realistic light.
For example, when I catch myself thinking “I’m a terrible mom for not spending enough time with my kids,” I might challenge that thought by asking myself, “Is that really true? Am I really a terrible mom? Or am I doing the best I can with the time and resources I have?”
Another way to challenge mom guilt is to practice self-compassion and remind yourself that you’re not alone in your struggles.
All moms face challenges and make mistakes, and that’s okay. Instead of beating yourself up for your perceived shortcomings, try to treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend.
This might mean taking a break when you need it, asking for help when you’re overwhelmed, or simply acknowledging that you’re doing the best you can in a difficult situation.
Finally, it can be helpful to seek out positive role models and supportive communities that can help you challenge and overcome your mom guilt.
Whether it’s talking to other moms in a support group or online forum, reading inspiring books or articles like this one, or simply spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself…surrounding yourself with positivity and encouragement can help you challenge the negative self-talk that fuels mom guilt and build a stronger sense of self-worth and confidence as a mother.
As a busy mom, it can be easy to put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own and neglect your own self-care.
But I’ve learned that taking care of myself is not only important for my own well-being, but also for my ability to be a present and engaged mother.
When I prioritize self-care, I’m more patient, more energized, and better able to handle the challenges of motherhood.
For me, self-care can look like taking a few minutes to meditate or do some gentle yoga in the morning, going for a walk or jog to clear my head, or simply taking a few deep breaths and reminding myself to slow down and be present in the moment.
It can also mean carving out some time for activities that bring me joy and fulfillment, like reading a good book, catching up with a friend, or pursuing a hobby or creative project.
Of course, self-care looks different for every mom, and it’s important to find what works best for you and your unique needs and circumstances.
But whatever form your self-care takes, try to make it a priority and commit to it as a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish – it’s essential for your own health and happiness, as well as for the well-being of your family.
As a mom, it’s easy to feel like we have to do everything ourselves and that asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure.
But I’ve learned that seeking support is not only necessary, but also a sign of strength and resilience.
Whether it’s reaching out to a friend, family member, or professional for help, seeking support can help us overcome our mom guilt and build a stronger sense of community and connection.
For me, seeking support can look like talking to a friend or fellow mom who understands what I’m going through, reaching out to a therapist or counselor for more in-depth support, or simply taking some time to connect with my partner or another loved one and talk about my feelings and concerns.
It can also mean seeking out resources and information online, through books or podcasts, or through local support groups or organizations.
Of course, the type of support you need will depend on your unique situation and needs, but the important thing is to recognize that you don’t have to go through your mom guilt alone.
Whether you’re struggling with feelings of inadequacy, overwhelm, or anxiety, there are resources and people available who can offer you the support and guidance you need to overcome your challenges and build a stronger, more fulfilling life as a mother.
So don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help – it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.
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