If you’re a mom, chances are you have experienced mom guilt many times. It is very common, especially among new moms, to feel inadequate and “not good enough”. The obsession of today’s population with social media doesn’t help. On Instagram, there abound perfect grids of Stepford-Wife-looking mothers who look put together all the time, can feed the kids vegetables and smoothies, and help the kids with their homework. They also manage not to give the kids any screen time. The struggle to keep up with social media and the ideal mom image is real!
Another common source of mom guilt is having a career. Working moms get flak for not being present enough in their kids’ lives because they are at work. What is even more surprising is that the feeling of judgment usually comes from fellow moms.
Moms also feel guilty about taking time out to indulge in self-care and to spend money on themselves. I can already imagine the litany in a mom’s head: "Why should I spend on a massage when this money should go to my kid’s college fund? How can I take a 30-minute nap when I should be reading books or singing songs to my child?"
Mom guilt is practically the manifestation of an “expectation vs. reality” meme gone wrong. When the mismatch is already so far apart that it causes anxiety, you know it is time to check yourself and stop the guilt on its tracks.
How to put a stop to mom guilt
Talk to someone.
It can be your spouse, your best friend, your mom, or a therapist. Find someone you trust with whom you can deconstruct your feelings.
Don’t cry over spilled milk, literally and figuratively.
Life is full of little disappointments and plans that do not pan out. Tell yourself that this is okay. A purely emotional reaction would be to regret and focus on our negative feelings towards the past; however, an intellectual reaction would be to turn our gaze towards the future.
Research shows that taking a nap can boost your energy levels and significantly lower blood pressure
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Let us start building the culture of non-judgment by not being judgers ourselves. We are all human, bad days and all.
Accept that there will be things that you will miss.
Remember the Serenity Prayer: “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”. Tradeoffs are inevitable. If you have to work to bring food to the table and a roof over your head, stop feeling guilty over this and make plans to ensure your off-duty time goes towards yourself and your family.
So, fellow moms, say it with me: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Self-care is not selfish. Taking care of yourself not only ensures that you won’t go having a meltdown one day, but it also shows your children the importance of giving value to themselves. Getting us into our optimal self by taking pockets of “me-time” helps us become more patient, present, and engaged with our children.