Mom Guilt is a totally real thing, and for each of us it comes in different forms.
- For some it is the guilt of not doing more to teach our kids.
- You didn’t spend every waking hour on your hands and knees playing with your kids.
- You neglected the house TO play with your kids.
- For some it is the guilt that you got overly upset with your kids today when they decided to use all your spices to make a cake under the table!
- For others it’s that we don’t get to spend enough time with our kids because we are working.
- We don’t have them in enough activities.
- I didn’t have enough kids.
- I had too many kids and don’t take good enough care of anything because I am overwhelmed!
- We were at our wits end when for the 50th time we asked them to do something like practice the piano and lost it when they wouldn’t do it!
- We haven’t taught them enough life skills before they go out on their own.
- We should have done this or that.
The list could go on and on right??
But just because you feel that mom guilt at times – that doesn’t make you a bad mom!
Here’s what I have learned now that I am older and can reflect on being a mom
“Mom’s” come in many forms and all women have an innate ability to “mother”
I remember as a small child, my mom had to work and I got to spend time everyday with my grandparents. My grandmother and her friends took such good care of me and my brother. We had SO MUCH FUN together baking, playing spades, rummy, Racko, and driving my grandma crazy jumping off or sliding down stairs on mattresses! We learned to garden, we did plays outside with blankets on the clothesline for our stage, we played in the shop with all kinds of dangerous things around and did things that most moms today would cringe at now. My own mom and dad might not have been around to but my grandma and grandpa were and those are memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.
In my teens I did have amazing church leaders that I looked up to thankfully that helped me to stay focused on the bigger picture in life. One leader in particular will always stand out in my mind as someone I always wanted to emulate. Penny Teuscher I knew always cared about me, where I was, and what was going on in my life. She sent me cards, updates, and more for many years even after I moved 3+ times.
Teens can put unrealistic expectations on us
As a teen I was an idiot and didn’t appreciate all my mom was doing for us! (I bet you were too at times or I hope someone was and it wasn’t just me!)
My mother was going to nursing school so she would be able to help support us 6 kids after she got divorced (my parents are much better people not together than they ever were together). She spent many sleepless nights working at hospitals so she could be around during the day as much as she could. She sacrificed SO much for us all and I don’t think we appreciated it at the time.
Today the roles are reversed. Though I am not divorced, I do work and have pretty much since I became a mom. I have often had those feelings of mom guilt creep in. I’m not spending enough time with my kids. Yet, if I don’t work how will we be able to have a home, food, clothing, etc. for our kids? I should have had more kids.
I have a daughter now who at times will put that guilt on me – you shouldn’t work so much. You love your work more than us, etc..
What I have had to realize and remind her and my son of, is the fact that BECAUSE I love you, I work to provide for you.
So what can we do to not be overcome by the mom guilt? I am no expert but here is what has worked for me.
Remember what works for one family, might not work for your family – and that’s okay!
Mom’s come in all varieties! Working moms, stay at home moms, aunts, friends, and so much more! No 2 moms are alike that that is wonderful.
I think my kids would actually HATE it if I was at home just focusing on them all day. I am a worker and whether it is at work or at home, I would have to keep busy, and I would rope them into more projects, more cleaning. So actually maybe I am doing them a favor by being gone sometimes!
Over the years, I have been blessed to find or create work that allows me flexibility to be at home with my kids when they are at home. I had an invitation business for a long time that allowed me to work at home when my daughter was little. At one point I did have to get a job and worked for someone else and had to take my kids to day care, but I found great moms to watch over them who I knew would take care of them while I couldn’t. Those moms were great influences on my kids and we hold dear memories of them.
At times I have had to take my kids to a daycare center, but the women running the center had a passion for what they did and loved and took care of my kids when I couldn’t too. They helped my son learn to try new foods! While this wouldn’t be my ideal, it is what worked for us at the time to provide for our families needs. And there is no shame in that.
One thing that I have been able to do, is find jobs that allowed me for the most part to drop my kids off at school, and pick them up at the end of the day. At times that meant I had to have working lunches so I could power through my work, or work early in the mornings or late at night when others were in bed. But that has relieved some mom guilt over the years.
Currently, I have my own business building websites for others and am able to set my own hours, where I work from, and when. That has allowed me to do what I love helping others, and be able to provide for my family when needed – especially when my husband was laid off earlier this year.
My income has also provided us opportunities to travel. We’ve gone on cruises, up to Vancouver, Quebec, Maine, Nova Scotia, Seattle, Hawaii, San Francisco, and many places in between on my income. I hope to have enough saved up that we can go to Europe before my son graduates. We’ve been able to do fun things as a family and my working has helped us create these memories together. So that helps me not feel so much mom guilt over working.
There is no shame in taking care of yourself as a mom – in fact it is necessary!
Sometimes as mom’s we think we have to do everything for everyone first and our needs come at the very bottom of the never ending to do list. If we do anything for ourselves before we take care of others, we are shirking our responsibilities – or so the social media comparison monster tells us!
There is no shame in taking care of you first. In fact, it is necessary so you can keep taking care of your family. Burn out as a mom, wife, business owner, or employee is real. Emotions like anxiety are real, fear is real, guilt is real. But when we take some time out for ourselves, whether that is a vacation, a day getting a facial, getting acupuncture, reading a book, or going for a walk by ourselves, going to the gym, or whatever you love, that can help us recharge and refocus.
My doctor is helping me remember this right now – It’s okay to let Jesus take the wheel sometimes and taking time for myself and focusing on me, not my clients, not my kids, not my husband, is important for my renewal and so I don’t burn out. So find those things, because it is never just one thing, that make you happy and help you relax, rejuvenate, and stay centered. I don’t have to be go, go, going all the time to be a good mom.
When you have to opportunity to just be with your kids and truly spend time with them – be all in!
My dad always taught us to work hard and play hard. Probably more of the working hard was done as a kid than playing, but when we did have opportunities, we had a lot of fun and that is something I strive to do with my own kids. When we go on vacations, spend time in the mountains, or are spending time together at home, I strive to be all in.
It’s okay to miss a call, you can call people back.
It’s okay to not bring work with you on vacation.
It’s okay to not get the dishes done today.
It’s okay to not be perfect! No one is – you are doing just fine momma!
So put the phone down, unplug, focus and take time for you and your family. Don’t let others make you feel guilty about that.
Work to build your relationship with your partner – keep dating!
My kids mean the world to me, but I also love doing things just with my husband. It’s nice to go away for a few days together, it’s great to get away from the house on a Friday night. Don’t feel guilty for taking time away from your kids to build your relationship with your partner.
We took a long vacation this year just the two of us and it was a great reminder of what our empty nest years will look like in the not too distant future! You will be with your partner for a long time (or hopefully will) so be sure you create relationships that will last and not just be bearable but that will be fun and something you look forward to!
It’s okay if things aren’t perfect or you have a bad day.
I admit, I have had days as a mom I am not proud of. I’ve lost my temper, I’ve totally dropped the ball and picked them up late from school. I’ve not always been around to be with them 24/7. But the thing is each day is a new day. It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to start over. Your kids have the amazing ability to forgive and forget and you should too.
If you could do just 1 thing as a mom each day to let your kids know you love them, what would that be?
For me, it’s making sure I give them a hug, saying I love you. If I get that in during the day – that means I am doing something right and that is enough.
It’s okay if your kids have to do chores and help you.
This one can be tough for some moms but I never have seen it this way. My teens are now self reliant because I allowed them to have responsibilities at home. Whether that is cooking dinner, doing laundry, or cleaning a bathroom, they are better for it and we are stronger as a family because of it.
You don’t have to feel guilty about letting your kids pick up the slack at home to help you whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom. We can’t do it all alone and we weren’t meant to.
You are doing good things and if you have some mom guilt, remember it’s just because you care, so you are probably doing better than you think!
Be sure you reach out to other women and create connections. It is so nice to know I am not in this mothering thing alone! That other moms are dealing with things I do! Whether you find women to connect with at church, through social media, mom groups in your area, or even with your sisters, mom, aunts and grandparents, it is a great stress reliever to get together with other women. Do it now and then for your own sanity – even if it means leaving your kids and spouse at home!
Remember momma – “God is less concerned about your perfection and more about your intentions.” You ARE doing great because you are trying!