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Whenever I speak to moms, one thing always comes up: mom guilt. Moms are carrying so much guilt.
Mom guilt comes from thoughts and feelings that you are not doing enough as a mom, or you’re not a good enough mom. The reality is that mom guilt has little to do with our actual choices and everything to do with our mindset and thoughts.
Society expects moms to sacrifice themselves on the altar of motherhood. In order of importance, moms spend their time on children, pets, relatives, and spouses. Ladies, our pets are getting more attention than we give ourselves! That is not OK!
It’s time to reframe our thinking and remove the mom guilt that comes with our parenting choices, circumstances, and thoughts about self-care.
The most loving thing you can do for your kids is to set yourself free and start taking care of yourself. You deserve it!
I hope these 25 tips help you stop feeling so much mom guilt:
1. Embrace a gospel-centered view of motherhood.
Motherhood through the lens of the gospel frees us from the weight of getting it all right. Instead, we rest in knowing that God has a plan for our children’s lives. We can’t mess up his plans. We are not that powerful.
Psalm 127:3 says that children are a gift from the Lord. At the end of the day, our kids belong to God, not us. Trust that God can and will meet all of their needs. Have faith that he has good things in store for them. Believe that he loves them more than we ever could.
2. Identify guilt versus shame.
Moderate levels of mom guilt can serve a function. Apologizing to your kids because you feel guilt over yelling about the messy room or being late to their recital demonstrates healthy guilt and responsibility. Shame, however, shapes our identity.
You are not a bad mom because you yelled. You are a good mom who made a mistake. There’s a difference.
3. Don’t neglect self-care.
Neglecting self-care is a warning sign that we’re over capacity and need to slow down to rest and care for ourselves. Self-care is not selfish.
In fact, it’s scriptural. Romans 13:9 tells us to love others as we love ourselves. The best thing we can give our kids is a healthy mom who loves herself too.
4. Prioritize self-care activities.
Going to the bathroom alone or taking a shower does not count as self-care. What have you done for yourself lately? You may think you don’t have a second of extra time for yourself but self-care actually makes us more productive.
Throw away the idea that you must put everyone else’s needs before your own. Healthy, guilt-free mommas have healthy self-care practices. You deserve every moment of that pedicure, girls’ night, or night away ALONE.
5. Create boundaries around the voices speaking into your life.
If you are spending time with anyone that triggers feelings of mom guilt, it’s time to set boundaries. Surround yourself with supportive people.
To help with this, check out my conversation with Lysa TerKeurst on how to navigate this well. She says “boundaries are not just a good idea, they are a God idea. He established the foundations of the world with boundaries.” Such good advice!
6. Spring clean your feed.
Unfollow the Instagram accounts that make you feel like you’re not enough. The comparison game is a thief and a liar. The grass isn’t greener on the other side; that’s a filter.
Thanks to editing apps, what you’re seeing may not even be real! What you see online doesn’t always look the same in person. Remember: That Instamom you admire who looks like she has it all together doesn’t. Ask her kids. None of us has it ALL together.
7. Put the phone down.
Many moms run to their phones to numb feelings and relieve stress, but it can actually do the complete opposite.
Our phones can increase mental angst leaving us more overwhelmed than before we picked it up in the first place. Instead, find a true self-care activity like reading the latest non-fiction book, taking a bath, or throwing on this worship playlist.
8. Take the pressure off; you’re not Mary Poppins.
Your children don’t need a perfect mom. They need you – flawed and imperfect. A mom who models a healthy perspective about mistakes and flaws raises kids who do the same.
In fact, our attempts to be perfect may do more harm than good. It enables our children to pursue perfectionism, and we all know how exhausting and futile that is! Let’s draw a line in the sand and celebrate our strengths and weaknesses.
9. The proof is in science.
Research in attachment science shows we only need to get parenting right 50% of the time to be great moms and secure attachments without children. How freeing is that?
We can stop worrying that we’ll mess up our kids. Luke 12 says worrying will not add a single hour to our lives. We spend too much time sweating the small stuff and forget to lift our heads to see the bigger picture.
10. Don’t isolate.
You’re not the only mom that struggles. Team up with a neighbor or co-worker for support and encouragement. Join a mom group or create your own.
God said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone so he created Eve. It’s not good for moms to be alone either. Humans are communal creatures, and we all need community. For more practical advice on community, listen to this episode with Heather MacFadyen as we dive into her book “Don’t Mom Alone”
11. Round up your posse of moms.
Sometimes you need a girl’s night (in or out) with your fellow mom girlfriends to put life into perspective and remind you that you’re in this together.
Plus you’re doing them a favor by reminding them they need self-care too. That’s a good friend.
12. Babysitters aren’t just for date nights.
Consequently, hire one for a few hours during the week so you can take a break and spend time doing self-care activities that bring you joy.
The first few times you leave the kids to do something you love may be difficult. However, believe that self-care in the form of a little distance helps you be your best self when you’re with them.
13. Dare to dream.
Is there something you have always wanted to do but you’ve been putting off because of your season of motherhood? A new hobby? A side business?
A component of self-care is pursuing a passion that is yours alone. A coach can help make it a reality even when you’re in the trenches of motherhood. You CAN pursue your dreams without mom guilt!
14. Tap into your “mom superpower.”
We all have superpowers and discovering yours will help you lean into your strengths and gifts and, ultimately, thrive. I’ve made it easy to find your superpower; take this quiz to find yours!
15. Reject expectations that make you feel guilty.
Consider where those expectations may have come from. Are they from culture, outsiders, negative Aunt Nancy, or even yourself? Take inventory and be aware of where you may be picking up the expectations that are causing guilt.
Then, create and set your own realistic expectations. Make them clear to those around you and rest in the fact that you can’t meet every need and can’t attend every event and that’s ok. You get to decide what is important to you. No one else gets that power over your life.
16. Create your own definition of motherhood.
Release yourself from false ideologies and craft a definition that fits your children, your superpowers, and your family’s vision.
You, your spouse, and your kids are all unique and that blend makes your family one of a kind! Honor your family’s extraordinary makeup.
17. Spend time journaling.
We all know this habit fosters feelings of peace and gratitude. Take time at the end of each day to remember the highlights.
A 5-year gratitude journal can take this experience up a notch, allowing you to look back to the same day from the previous year. It’s truly a gift to remember the blessings that we are so quick to forget.
18. Have a growth mindset, not a fixed mindset.
Those with a growth mindset believe in the constant art of learning and improving; whereas those with a fixed mindset believe some things are unchangeable.
Motherhood is a lifelong journey. Each season carries with it new lessons. Learn from your unique journey. None of us is perfect; take the lessons and move forward knowing you’re gaining knowledge and experience with each day and season.
19. Be where your feet are.
Working moms often tell me that while they’re at work, they wish they were home. And while they’re at home, they think about work.
What is most important is quality time, not quantity. Time spent is not the same as quality time. You don’t need to do more or spend more hours. Instead, be intentional and seek your child’s best interest with the time you have.
The same goes for stay-at-home moms who believe they should be elsewhere while home raising children. Be present and give 100% of yourself where you are in the moment.
20. Express what you need.
You may be the person who looks like they have it all together while you’re crumbling inside. Your needs aren’t obvious to those around you.
Vocalize your needs to those closest to you and create a game plan to help share the responsibilities of child-rearing. It takes a village, after all. Be aware that neglecting yourself can lead to a victim mentality, so you’ll need put self-care on the calendar and make sure everyone is aware.
21. Forgive yourself.
1 Corinthians 13 says that love is patient, love is kind, and love keeps no record of wrongs. We have to model that kind of love to ourselves before we can offer that love to others. We can’t give what we don’t have.
Remember not everything kids do is a reflection of your parenting skills. While free will is a gift from God, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Kids will be kids. Make peace with the fact that they will make mistakes just like we do; don’t feel guilt over things you’re not responsible for.
22. Embrace the freedom to change your mind.
Once you become a mom, your whole world changes. Not only is it ok to reprioritize, but it’s also essential.
Whether you’re transitioning from being a working mom to a stay-at-home or sending your kids to public school after years of homeschooling, you’re allowed to step back, re-evaluate, and change course where necessary.
Then, be confident in the decisions YOU make for your family.
23. Accept that who you are is enough.
You are the right mom for your kids. No one else in the world has your gifts, talents, and strengths, and they’re exactly what your family needs. Nothing less, nothing more.
Memorize Psalm 139:13-4 “For created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
24. Seek help from a medical professional if mom guilt is a dominant emotion and becoming unmanageable.
Mom guilt can have detrimental effects on our physical and mental health as well as your productivity.
Therapy is not a sign of weakness and can be key in helping you get back to connecting with your family in a healthy way.
25. Celebrate yourself.
You’ve grown so much as a mom! Take time to honor and appreciate all the wonderful ways you’ve grown. Writing a letter to your younger mom self is a great way to remind yourself how far you’ve come.
Remember that motherhood does not mean drowning in the needs around us and succumbing to the pressures and ideologies dumped on us.
Just think of that time right before take-off when flight attendants demonstrate the safety procedures for the flight.
They remind us to secure our own oxygens masks before helping those around us. Doesn’t that make perfect sense? If we can’t breathe, how can we help anyone else?
The best kind of mom is a healthy mom that has a healthy mindset so she can show up at her best for her family.
Let’s stop believing the lie that self-care is selfish. Let’s agree that self-care is essential for the benefit of ourselves and our families. In fact, self-care is non-negotiable. Lastly, let’s make decisions to take care of ourselves and stop feeling mom guilt.
If you need more information on the importance of self-care practices and activities, check out this post.
Years from now, you’ll look up and see the amazing adults your kids grew up to be. You’ll realize worry and mom guilt didn’t contribute to the outcome but instead stole some of your joy and ability to thrive in the earlier years of motherhood.
Experience the freedom NOW of getting to love your family on your own terms.
Cheering you on from here!