Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt mom guilt.
I’m assuming that every single mom who reads this will have her hand raised because mom guilt is like your period – an unwelcome visitor that you can always count on to show up and ruin the party. (Unless your period brings you the sweet relief of not being pregnant, but that’s a whole other discussion.) In fact, according to a 2017 NUK survey, nearly 90% of moms feel guilty for something at some point. Well, it’s time to kiss mom guilt goodbye and start prioritizing yourself.
Mom guilt comes in many forms and for many reasons. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Whether you feel guilty for working, for bottle-feeding, for not being a Pinterest mom, or for putting the kids to bed early so you can enjoy a glass of wine, that guilt you feel is worthless and totally unnecessary.
If you’re doing the best you can to be a good mom to your kids, then you have NOTHING to feel guilty about. That’s right, you can go ahead and kick that mom guilt to the curb.
I know, I know, it’s easier said than done.
Heck, I’m guilty of it too (pun intended). I feel guilty if my kids get more screen time than recommended by the “experts” just so I can get an extra 30 minutes of peace and quiet. The mom guilt sets in when I heat up leftovers for the second night in a row because I’m too tired to cook. And I feel oh so guilty when I have to choose work over play to meet a deadline.
Here’s the thing, we shouldn’t feel guilty for doing any of these things.
If you have to put on another episode of Paw Patrol and heat up yesterday’s mac n’ cheese so you can clean house, get some work done, or just to give yourself a break, then do what you gotta do, mama.
This notion that we have to constantly sacrifice our own wellbeing for that of our family’s, is outdated, absurd, and quite frankly, dangerous.
If you keep putting yourself last, you will burn out, mama. I can promise you that. (Learn more about mom burnout.)
Look, of course, I’m not saying you need to neglect your family to be happy. That’s ridiculous and would be completely counterintuitive. But, you do need to put yourself first sometimes and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so.
5 Unique Strategies for Ditching Mom Guilt for Good
1. Get yourself an anti- mom guilt motto or mantra.
There are so many benefits to having a motto or a mantra. According to Psychology Today, a motto can replace destructive thinking (like all those thoughts of mom guilt you’re having) with healthy self-talk. It can also provide you encouragement and inspiration when you need it.
Find a motto or mantra that reminds you of why you’re prioritizing yourself. You can come up with your own mantra, of course, but if you need some inspiration, here are some words of wisdom you can borrow:
- “Being a good mom does not mean you have to sacrifice your wants, your needs, or your own well being.” – Sam Dobson, More for Mama
- “When I care for myself, I care for others.” – Motherly
- “To be a good parent, you need to take care of yourself so that you can have the physical and emotional energy to take care of your family.” -Michelle Obama
- “It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” – Mandy Hale
- “You were someone before you were their mom, and that person matters.” -Unknown
- “It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.” -Diane Von Furstenberg
- “Taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your kids.” -Unknown
- “Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give, and nobody will care for you.” – Karl Lagerfeld
- “Your kids don’t want a perfect mom, they want a happy one.” -Unknown
- “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Maya Angelou
- “I’m the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life.” – Janene Wolsey Baadsgard
- “Your most valuable parenting skill is learning to manage yourself first.” – Dr. Laura Markham
- “If you feel burnout setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself.” – Dalai Lama
- “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation…” – Audre Lorde
2. Write it down and then let it go.
If you haven’t jumped on the journaling bandwagon yet, you should really give it a try. There are so many benefits to keeping a journal, including improving memory, managing depression, and relieving stress. You know, like the kind of stress that accompanies mom guilt.
If mom guilt is something that you struggle with often, consider getting a journal in which you can write it down and get it all out. Journaling is a great way to work through your feelings of guilt, remind yourself why those thoughts are unfair and unfounded, and begin to let them go. Hey, you can also jot down your anti- mom guilt motto over and over again!
3. Vent to someone who gets it.
What are you feeling guilty about? Whether it’s going back to work after maternity leave, spending time with your mom friends, or carving out an hour a day to exercise, confide in someone who understands the guilt you’re feeling. Sometimes, you need an outside perspective to realize how unnecessary those feelings of guilt are.
This works best when you can really be honest and vent to your little heart’s content. So, make sure the person you confide in is someone you trust and can really be yourself with – your best mom friend, a close family member, or your spouse. Chances are if they have kids, they’ll totally get it.
4. Separate yourself from any outside sources of guilt.
Mama, it’s high time you remove all the negative energy from your life and that includes anything or anyone who makes you feel guilty. If the judgy PTA mom or a nosey family member is laying on the guilt, you have every right to remove yourself from the situation. Avoid the holier than thou moms at school drop off and tell your great aunt to mind her business (in a nice way, not in a trashy reality TV way).
5. Prioritize family time.
The easiest way to avoid feeling guilty for spending time away from your family is to prioritize family time. Make the time you spend with your family really count – unplug, converse, play, and interact. There is no reason to feel guilty about going to work every day, especially if you’re home in time to enjoy dinner, do the bedtime routine, and read stories before bed. If you’ve got plans on Saturday to get your nails done or go shopping with your girls, plan a family activity for Sunday.
If you walk away from this post with only one thing, let it be this – The best way to overcome feeling guilty about prioritizing yourself is to prioritize your family, too.
5 Simple Ways You Can Start Prioritizing Yourself
If you’ve made the decision to start giving yourself some much deserved TLC but you’re not sure how or where to start, it’s best to start simple.
1. Carve out time for yourself every single day.
Give yourself some time to be alone every day. Whether it’s 10 minutes, an hour, or however long you can manage, use that time to do something for you. This can be whatever you need – a soak in the tub, a run, a nap, a few chapters of a good book, a hair appointment, a new hobby, or even just 15 minutes to sit in peace and quiet. Here are 55 ways that you can practice self-care in just 15 minutes or less.
2. Take care of yourself to the same extent that you take care of your family.
Stop treating yourself as a second class citizen of your own household.
Not sure what I mean? Do make sure the kids are dressed in their adorable little outfits and fed breakfast before you’ve even had a chance to brush your teeth? Are you usually the last one to eat a meal? I bet you can’t even remember the last time you even had a pap smear or a check-up, but your kids probably never miss a well-check with their pediatrician, am I right?
Yup, that’s what I thought and you know what? I still struggle with the same thing.
You deserve the same care that you give to your family. Take the time to get yourself ready for the day, make sure you’re eating a hot meal with your family, and make your damn doctor appointments when you make the kid’s appointments. These are just a few examples, but I think you get the idea.
3. Focus on your physical and mental health.
Don’t let your health take a backseat because you’re “too busy” being a mom. Carve out some time to be active and exercise. If your back aches, get a massage or visit the chiropractor. Do something that soothes your soul, like meditation or journaling. Try a new skincare regimen. Don’t skip your annual teeth cleaning. Get professional help if you’re feeling anxious or depressed.
Your physical and mental wellbeing should always be a priority.
4. Learn how to say “no” and set boundaries.
Know your limits, set some boundaries, and learn how to say “no” when you need to. If you don’t have time to volunteer for yet another school activity, offer to help in a different way. Too many events happening on the same weekend? You can regrettably decline an invite instead of overloading your weekend with parties and playdates. I promise that doesn’t make you an asshole. And your career won’t end because you don’t answer your emails after work when you’re spending time with your family.
Boundaries are an important part of prioritizing yourself and preventing mom overwhelm. You should never feel guilty or feel like you have to explain yourself to anyone.
5. Do something that lights you up.
At least once a week, set aside some time to do something that challenges the mind, boosts creativity, or soothes the soul. Find a hobby that you truly enjoy doing. (Here are 75 new and classic mom hobbies you can try.) Learn something new, like a language or special skill. Work on personal development. Volunteer for a cause that’s near and dear to your heart.
There are so many possibilities here, the important thing is that you make time to do something that you love to do.
So tell me, mama, do you experience mom guilt? Have you found a different way to overcome it? How do you prioritize yourself on a daily basis? Tell me all about it in the comments section below.
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