Ugh, mom guilt. It seems to be an integral part of motherhood. Born at the moment of conception, the guilt starts wreaking havoc on your life. Even before the baby is born you start thinking, “I shouldn’t have done this” or “I should have done that.” And once they’re born, forget about it. Every little tear they shed, every little mistake piles up like dirty diapers until you’re overwhelmed by a giant stack of stinky guilt.
Does Mom Guilt Need to Be a Part of Your Life?
It seems some mothers latch onto the mom guilt as a rite of passage. You’re supposed to feel it, right? Well, perhaps not. In most cases, guilt is a rather unproductive emotion. It doesn’t help you accomplish anything. It doesn’t make you or your child a better person. It doesn’t change things. It actually can make things much worse.
Think about the last time you felt a bit of guilt. Maybe you snapped at your child or didn’t feed them as many vegetables as you think you should have. Or like me, as a work at home mom, you spent a little more time at the computer than you wanted to. Those haunting words inside your head making you feel like the worse mom ever!
What did the guilt accomplish? Did it change the past? Did it magically make you, or your child, feel better? No and no. Let it go!
How to Stop Feeling Mom Guilt
Accept That You’re Not Perfect
Much of the guilt that moms feel stems from the weird need to be perfect – or to think that you’re expected to be perfect. Your mom wasn’t perfect, right? You’re not perfect either and no one really expects you to be.
They do expect you to do your best. However, doing your best doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. In fact, if you’re trying really hard you’ll probably make many mistakes. Sit back, repeat the mantra, “I’m not perfect and I don’t need to be,” and then relax. You’re going to make mistakes and the world won’t end when you do.
Learn from the Mistake
When you make a mistake, instead of feeling unproductive guilt why not turn it into a productive moment? You can if you learn from the mistake. Assess what happened and why, and then create a plan to avoid making that mistake again. Move onward and upward as they say.
Start Paying Attention to Why You Feel Guilt
Okay, it’s time for an honest moment. It’s time to get in touch with your feelings. When you’re feeling guilty about something, sit down and spend a few quiet moments assessing why. What does the guilt do for you? Why are you choosing to feel guilt instead of some other emotion? Maybe it’s easier to feel guilty than to be angry or frightened.
Let those feelings out
Find an outlet to vent, either with a journal, prayer or a good friend. Allowing those toxic feelings to escape is the best remedy. You certainly do not need to be harboring any extra, unproductive thoughts.
Guilt seems to be a natural part of motherhood for many. However, it doesn’t have to be. You can have a happier and more productive parenting experience if you learn to let go of guilt.
If you are looking for a few more resources to help you in this journey, I discovered Confessions of an Imperfect Mom: God’s Path to Less Guilt and More Grace by Julie Ann Barnhill and Mommy Grace: Erasing Your Mommy Guilt by Sheila Schuller Coleman. Both look to have some great insight to combating the guilt that can negatively hurt our ability to be the mom’s our kids want and need.
What is your tactic to combat mom guilt?