To be a mom in today’s society, you have to be on board with feeling all kinds of mom guilt. Women quietly agree to wear this guilt like a badge of honor every day while the anxiety eats them up from the inside. Maybe you’ve heard something along these lines: “I haven’t showered in 10 days, but you know what, holding my baby from sunup to sundown is what’s absolutely best for him.” Quit it, Sharon. We all know you’re lying, and you’re smelly. Personal hygiene is important.
I might be the only one in this situation, but I rarely feel mom guilt. As in, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve felt genuinely guilty for something mom-related in the three years of my daughter’s existence. Even sitting here now, I am hard pressed to think of an example of my guilt.
Mom guilt is a crippling range of inadequacies, anywhere from the food your child consumes up through taking a vacation sans kids (gasp, how dare you!). For me, there’s no benefit in sitting and feeling guilty about the decisions I make as a parent. Am I right 100% of the time? Nope. Also, allowing myself to be at least part of the person I was before I became a mom is incredibly important to me. Call me Uncle Rico, I could probably throw a football over those mountains and take state.
Perhaps you’re wondering, “How can you do that?! How can you erase all of that mom guilt in one fell swoop?” Here are five easy things you can do to get that pesky guilt-ridden feeling out of your brain to become a lighter and happier person:
#1: Get off Social Media
“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain
I used to sit on all avenues of social media, thinking bleakly to myself, “If only I could be like her.” Well, you can’t. And here’s why: social media is not real life. People spend enormous amounts of time staging and editing the photos you see. That elaborate birthday party? Completely fake. Those amazing school lunches? Took several hours to prep. It’s entirely unrealistic for the average mom to juggle all of the day-to-day momming stuff alongside a consistent full renovation of her home. Quit comparing yourself to others and do the best you can do for you and your family.
#2: Find a Support Network
Many of us are wandering around this odyssey of motherhood a la Odysseus. Alone. Tired. Lonely. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are many other moms in the same exact figurative boat as you are, just trying to stay away from those Siren calls of screen time and sugar snacks but occasionally caving because the song is just too darn sweet.
Moms in the thick of raising tiny humans are insanely supportive, caring, and understanding. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other moms because you think they might judge you for your less-than-perfect parenting. I can tell you without pause that my current life with a crew of amazing moms is much richer, and, in many ways, easier now that I have their support. I sincerely wish for every woman to find the camaraderie they need from others going through the same challenges they are.
#3: Pursue your Passions
Whatever it is that lights your soul on fire, I want you to do it with all of your might, as often as you want, and feel zero guilt about it whatsoever. Hear me now in this: there is nothing wrong with doing something that makes you whole. Having said that, if you took a pottery class once and kind of thought it was OK, don’t do that anymore. It wasn’t for you, and that’s OK, too. Be deliberate in the things in which you choose to spend your time. Also, if something you’re passionate about makes you feel mom guilt, reevaluate the reasons why you love doing it and see if there’s a middle ground.
#4: Get out MORE
Yup, I said it. The key to erasing mom guilt actually lies (in part) in spending less time with your kids. Whomever you choose to be in charge of your babies while you’re away is most likely very capable and will do an excellent job of meeting their needs. Heck, probably exceeding them with fun bedtimes and dessert. I’ve heard so many moms say that they’ve never missed a bedtime with their kids. As much as you’d like to believe your carriage is going to turn into a pumpkin at a certain time, it won’t, Cinderella. Enjoy your time away; your kids are going to be just fine.
#5: Stop trying to do it all, all the time
There are a million tiny moments in the life of a mother, and most of them are inconsequential. But the second you miss one of the big, mom-defining moments is the moment the guilt rushes in. The quicker you realize that the laundry/dishes/dirty floor can wait, the quicker you’ll start actually enjoying your kids. Get on that grimy floor with them and roll around playing games. You were once a professional kid, and you can show them a thing or two about having fun. Slow down and savor these small moments with your kids instead of hustling to the next bucket list attraction.
At the end of the day, here’s the thing I always come back to: my daughter is happiest when I am happy. By doing the things mentioned above, I can be the best version of myself and a better mom to my daughter. Let’s erase the feeling of mom guilt and be proud of how we parent because no one should feel bad about eating pizza for dinner.