“There will be so many times you feel like you’ve failed. But in the eyes, heart, and mind of your child you are a super mom.” – Stephanie Precourt
Once you become a Mom, you go through countless emotions that you never went through before – heart-wrenching love, pure unselfishness, fierce protection and other similar feelings that describe just how much you love your child and how far you’re willing to go to protect our precious little one. But soon, another emotion joins the ones above; one that originates from the intention to be the perfect Mom you can be to your little munchkin and it’s called ‘Mommy Guilt‘.
What is Mommy Guilt?
Mommy Guilt is that feeling common to Moms the world over, of not doing enough, or not doing the right thing for their kids. This feeling applies to Moms across ages, religions, countries and socio-economic levels. We all frequently compare our real selves to an idealized version of motherhood and end up marking ourselves as mothering failures. While there are a million reasons for Moms to feel guilty about, here’s a quick look at the most common Mommy guilt-triggers:
- You fed your child instant noodles instead of a whole grain, sugar-free snack
- You put your kids in front of the TV so you could peacefully drink your coffee while it was still hot
- You got irritated by the endless Lego bricks on the floor and yelled
- You got distracted while your child was describing his drawing
- Your child doesn’t know the capitals and/or flags of all the countries of the world
- You weaned your child from the breast before he turned one
- You put your child in another room to sleep
- You co-sleep
- You didn’t make a craft out of recycled materials
You get the drift right? We Moms are experts at finding things to feel guilty about!
So why do we do this to ourselves? Many people suggest that Moms of previous generations didn’t suffer from as much guilt, and they may be right. Social media has been linked to increased dissatisfaction people have with their lives and this feeling is compounded in Moms. When you’re constantly barraged by images and updates of svelte, yummy Mummies holidaying in exotic locales with perfectly groomed kids, it can hurt your self esteem a little. The same goes for Moms who plan Pinterest-perfect parties and bake fresh bread everyday. Sometimes, it may not be about comparing ourselves to strangers; it can be pressure from our own family, especially when we want to do things differently. The pressure to be ‘SuperMom’ has never been this high, and we end up putting extreme pressure on ourselves.
But at the end of the day, does your four year old care whether his party balloons matched the table covers? Of course he won’t – all he cares about is that you wanted him to be happy and you made the effort. When you find yourself overwhelmed by Mommy guilt, you know that it’s time to step back, take a deep breath and do something about it. Here are 10 ways to help you overcome that Mommy guilt and enjoy motherhood to the fullest!
10 Ways to Skip the Mommy Guilt
1. Identify your Priorities
Parenting has about a million facets, and it isn’t possible for any human person to succeed in all of them. You’re great at teaching math but suck at crafts? It doesn’t matter, stick to what you’re good at! Identify your specific ‘parenting areas’ and deal with the other areas – ask a family member, enroll in a class or just forget it!
2. Lower your Expectations
One of the biggest reasons of Mommy guilt is expecting yourself to be a perfect Mom; something that no mother can be. Accepting this fact is crucial to truly enjoy motherhood for what it is and to focus on what’s really important. You can’t do it all; and that’s okay!
3. Set a Workable Schedule
A common Mommy guilt trigger is lack of quality time to spend with the kids. Eliminate this worry at the start by setting a workable daily routine for yourself. Don’t over schedule your day such that you’re running hither and thither trying to tick off tasks. Stick to this routine and watch your guilt melt away.
4. Stop Comparing
This is the first bad habit to break! For one thing, what you see on social media are the best of the best moments that people choose to share and there are a million other ‘not-so-glamorous’ moments no one hears about. Every Mom, every child and every family is different, and comparing your situation with another Mom’s will not help in any way.
5. Stay away from Online ‘Discussions’
This is not just essential for skipping Mommy guilt, it’s crucial for your sanity! People can be really vicious online and your intent to participate in a healthy discussion can land you in the middle of a battlefield! Things get worse when it comes to parenting topics like extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, screen time and the like. Just two words – stay away!
6. Learn to say No
Time and life management guru Stephen Covey says “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things.” Note the word ‘non-apologetically’, which means you should be able to say ‘No’ without any guilt; even to your Mother-in-law! Try it and see – it’s truly liberating!
7. Live in the Moment
There’s a joke about a woman’s brain being like a browser with a million tabs open at the same time. Thinking about so many things at once doesn’t let us enjoy the present moment and we lose out on everything. While at work, be productive and focus on the task at hand; when with the kids, leave everything else behind and put all your attention on your kids – put quality over quantity!
8. Talk to your Spouse
Have you noticed that no one mentions ‘Daddy Guilt’ anywhere? That’s because it doesn’t exist! Dads spend half an hour tumbling with the kids and think of themselves as super Dads – it’s that simple for them. If you talk to your spouse, you’re quite likely to find that he thinks you’re a great Mom too. If you still feel overwhelmed, share or exchange some parenting responsibilities, it’ll refresh things a little.
9. Look at the Big Picture
Your child is not going to wear diapers in high school, so whether you start potty training at 3 months or 3 years will be irrelevant then. Whenever you feel bogged down by little issues, take a step back and look at the big picture. It’ll help put things in perspective and you’ll find your guilt melting away.
10. Let it go
Yes, we’re going to quote the ‘Frozen’ anthem here! You can list out your specific parenting areas and schedule time for each one and still, the balls will drop and you’ll find yourself falling back. But that’s just how life is and you need to let it go and move on. Most importantly, forgive yourself for slip ups – you’re still a great Mom!
In this digital age, we lead very harried lives, and it’s time to simplify things. Focus on what really matters and let the rest go – it’ll make a world of difference to you and your family. Motherhood is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun. Don’t let the responsibilities take away the happiness; skip the guilt and enjoy this journey to the fullest!