As a parent, mommy guilt makes it difficult to make decisions. You question everything, and unfortunately nothing prepares you for the guilt that you feel as a mom. Letting go of mommy guilt requires a new way of thinking.
You prepare for nine months for your baby. However, nothing prepares you for the guilt you’ll feel once your baby arrives.
You feel guilty about everything from breastfeeding to working. The guilt doesn’t go away once your child grows up. In some ways, it only gets worse.
When your child is a baby, you create the guilt for yourself. When your child can speak, they give you a mommy guilt trip.
Here’s why all moms feel mommy guilt: LOVE!
We love our children and babies so much and want only the best for them.
Our children are mini versions of us! We look to our own childhood for ways to parent. Things we liked about growing up, we share with our children. We find other parenting strategies so we avoid the things we don’t like about our upbringing.If there’s something we didn’t like about how we were raised, we make sure to avoid while raising our own children.
Then there’s the baby effect. They are so sweet and cuddly. Perfect balls of joy. We crave and love that bliss, and want it to last. However, nobody is perfect. Even our perfect bundles of joy.
Soon that little baby gets sick, gets teeth, and gets emotional. That’s life. It’s full of ups and downs.
Add in our own lives. Work, postpartum hormones, and bills.
Mix in social media and the unpredictability of kids and you have a case of mommy guilt.
While mom guilt sticks with us for life, there are ways to deal with it.
Working mom guilt
For me, mommy guilt got real at the end of my maternity leave.
It’s a dreaded moment for so many moms. It’s tough to leave your child with someone else, often a stranger. You have feelings of regret and anxiety. You question whether daycare is the right decision. Are you letting your child down? Are you missing out on precious moments?
You think about how little time you will actually spend with your child after spending 24-7 with them during maternity leave.
Going back to work challenges even the most professional driven people like myself.
Then there’s the pressure from others. Leading up to the end of my maternity leave, everyone asked the dreaded question, “What are you doing with your daughter when you go back to work?”
It’s a completely loaded question. The person asking you has their opinion of what’s best, and you have your own opinion.
Is there a correct answer? I don’t think so. If you are leaving your child, you feel guilty no matter who watches them.
If you stay at home with your children, you’ll spend more time with them, but you’ll feel guilty for not contributing money to the family budget and savings account.
I worked for six months and struggled every day. When I got home, my husband handed me the baby. Off I went to feed my daughter. Twenty minutes of “us” time, and then it was time for bed.
An app is the only way I connected with my child during the day. I had a live video feed into her daycare as I watched her play, sleep, and eat.
Sometimes I sat there smiling or laughing at something my daughter did, only to realize I was staring at a computer screen.
A flexible work schedule simply wasn’t possible, as hard as I fought for one, so I left my job and everything I worked for over 16 years.
As I contemplated the best choice for our family and navigated my way through mommy guilt, I heard it all.
There are some people who think working moms provide the best role model for their children because they show them the value of hard work.
Then you hear the stories of kids who can’t understand why their moms spend more time at work than with them. One girlfriend’s daughter told her mom she hopes she gets fired!
There are tradeoffs whether you are a working mom or stay at home mom.
1. Do what’s best for your family
I went back and forth for months. Should I work or stay at home with my daughter?
For me, that meant spending more time with my child and finding work that’s flexible.
The good news for any of you struggling with working or staying at home, there are more options than ever before to be a work at home mom.
I’ve had no problem finding ways to earn income for my family. When the corporate world doesn’t want to give you a flexible work day, make your own!
I’m blessed that I had an option. Some moms have no choice but to work full time.
If you are a working mom, use these situations of mommy guilt as teaching examples. Explain to your children the value of money, and why you work. It probably won’t stop the questions or the working mom guilt, but it will help.
Join a tribe of working moms like Working Moms Against Guilt.
No matter which option you choose, working mom or stay at home mom, know that you are doing what’s best for your family.
Once you make your decision, embrace it. Life is short. Don’t second-guess yourself. Take command of your decision and make the best of it as you live every day to the fullest.
2. Don’t worry about what other parents think
Once you figure out whether you are going to work or stay at home, there are all sorts of other reasons you’ll feel mommy guilt.
When you are a new mom, you have expectations of how you will parent. You plan for nine months, reading books and taking classes. You think you know how it’s going to be, but you really have no clue.
There are baby products you thought your child needed, but they have no interest in them. There are parenting strategies you thought you’d use, that don’t work for your child.
Your child has a mind of his or her own. While you shape your child’s upbringing, he or she is going to ultimately make his or her own decisions. Plus, what’s right for one baby is not right for another baby.
As a non-parent, I was that person who said I would never use a pacifier. It drove me nuts to see children walking and talking with a pacifier hanging out of their mouth.
That parenting goal lasted about two weeks. Our daughter was fussy and struggled to calm herself. The doctor recommended we try a pacifier.
Just like with working and stay at home moms, there are moms who use a pacifier and others who refuse.
I felt so guilty putting the binky in my daughter’s mouth. I thought of all the negative connotations like “plug.” Yet here I was plugging up my daughter’s mouth.
The fact that my doctor told me to do it didn’t help. I still had mommy guilt.
It took a few months, but that guilt quickly went away. It took a little self-reflection for that guilt to pass. That pacifier makes my daughter happy, and when she’s happy I’m happy. Sometimes, silence is golden as a parent.
I often reassure myself that I’m not a bad mom because my daughter takes a pacifier. There are moms who wish their child took a pacifier.
For me, the pacifier triggered the guilt.
Why did it happen?
My focus was on the wrong thing. I worried what other people thought about a pacifier rather than the needs of our daughter and family.
Getting rid of mommy guilt requires you to ignore what other people think and focus on what matters to your family.
For me, a pacifier was the issue. By the way, you’ll never see that pacifier. It’s MIA during the day now! 🙂
For other moms, it might be using formula rather than breastmilk. We all feel the guilt. To get rid of mom guilt, we need to find out what’s causing it. Often it’s friends, family members, and society.
We’re all human and all have opinions. Those opinions and pressure from others keep the guilt hanging around a little longer than it should.
3. Moms don’t have to explain their actions
Mommy guilt also creeps in when your child doesn’t act the way society thinks he should act. Every child is different. You learn this quickly. Some walk at 8 months. Others don’t walk until 15 months.
We become consumed with questions like, “Is your daughter walking yet?” Then it’s, “Is your daughter talking yet?”
While they are natural ice breaker / get to know you type questions, some moms worry when they answer no to one of these questions even though other babies are walking or talking at the same age.
We want our children to be perfect. The reality is — they are not perfect. Just like we are not perfect. So we need to stop trying to have our kids measure up to what society thinks they should be doing.
That’s hard to do in public because all eyes are on you and your cute children. They are not just admiring eyes, but judgmental eyes too.
Parenting is tough!
While shopping one day, I watched this judgment play out right in front of me.
I witnessed another mom explain herself when there was no explanation necessary.
Her son showed an elderly gentleman his smartphone and game, while the mom checked out. The boy’s mom immediately turned her head and explained why her son had her smartphone. Why did she do that? Mommy guilt!
The woman felt the need to explain her son’s behavior. She told the man she restricts her son’s smartphone use, and only allows it in the store so he doesn’t grab everything as she shops.
She spoke up because she didn’t want the man to judge her as a parent.
The mom obviously felt guilty for letting her son have the phone in the store. Even though there’s no reason to feel guilty. We’ve all been there. We feel guilty for reasons we shouldn’t feel guilty for.
If the man wants to judge. Let him do it. Be confident in yourself and your actions as a parent. Who cares what everyone else thinks. You need to LET IT GO!
You’re the only mom for your child. Don’t let family members or society tell you how to parent. Surround yourself with people who support you.
4. Ignore social media
Social media will give you a case of mommy guilt in a matter of seconds.
There are lots of critics on social media. Even the most inspiring stories somehow generate negative comments.
People are quick to judge. They live in their digital bubble where everything is perfect, and they criticize.
It happens all the time. For example, remember the innocent child who lost his life at the Disney World hotel pond? He played on the shore at dusk like so many other kids. Other parents posted pictures of their child in the same spot.
On this one day, though, an alligator grabbed the child splashing in the water. Social media went crazy! My heart broke for them. Social media haters offered no sympathy. They lashed out and judged the parents for allowing their child to stand in the water. People are quick to judge. Sometimes you have to ignore social media.
My heart broke for them. Social media haters offered no sympathy. They lashed out and judged the parents for allowing their child to stand in the water even though many parents said their children stood in the exact same spot.
It was an accident and unfortunate circumstance that took that child’s life. Not bad parenting. People are quick to judge. Sometimes you have to ignore social media.
People are quick to judge. Sometimes you have to ignore social media.
Even on a normal day, social media will give you mommy guilt. You see these picture perfect moments of moms and children having fun.
People tend to share their best moments online. Don’t buy into it. That mom who posts about all the great things about parenting also has bad parenting days. She just doesn’t share them. Don’t feel guilty if your home feels more chaotic than another mom. It’s not. All our homes are crazy!
How to deal with mommy guilt
While feeling guilty is a feeling none of us want, it’s taught me a lot about myself.
Use the guilt as a learning experience.
Mommy guilt is everywhere. That’s why you need to surround yourself with supportive people. Look for blogs on motherhood. Tell your friends about this mom blog! 🙂
Join community mom groups like MOPS. This is called Mothers of Preschoolers, but your child doesn’t have to be a preschooler. This is a great way to find inspiration as a mom.
Also, look on Meetup. This is a great place to find mom clubs.
Don’t let mommy guilt consume you. Embrace the chaos of motherhood, and stop trying to be perfect.
Surround yourself with supportive people, and enjoy being a mom. Life is short, so live each day knowing you’re making the best decision for your family.
Kick mommy guilt to the curb!
How do you deal with mommy guilt? Share your strategies on Facebook.