If you're dealing with mom guilt, you're certainly not alone. All moms experience guilt about something during their parenting journeys, whether they're just starting out with their new babies or are sending their high school grads off to college. You'll feel guilty about some choices you make along the way, but you need to learn to deal with that guilt in healthy ways. Here are seven of the most common mom guilt scenarios and how you can deal with them.
Scenario One: You choose or have to feed your baby formula for whatever reason. We've all heard that "breast is best," and more and more science is backing this up. That's why formula feeding versus breast feeding is one of the major guilt issues for modern moms. The truth is, though, that only 22% of moms breastfeed their babies for a full year which means that 78% don't.
How to Deal: Realize your baby will be just fine. If you're feeling guilty about feeding your baby formula—whether you exclusively formula feed or feed a combination of breastmilk and formula— there is no reason to feel guilty. Realize that you're making the best decision you can for your family, whether you're dealing with breastfeeding problems or choosing to formula feed for other reasons, and realize that millions of kids worldwide have grown up to be perfectly healthy, smart, and well-adjusted, even though they weren't breastfed even once.
Scenario Two: Your laundry is scattered on the bedroom floor, the kitchen sink is piled with dirty dishes, and the bathroom floor desperately needs mopped. Whether you're a mom to one or ten kids, keeping up with little ones while keeping the house clean and tidy is tough. It's not a bad thing to want to provide your family a clean, neat, homey environment, but letting your ideals about what your home should look like get out of control is a recipe for mom guilt disaster.
How to Deal: Learn to prioritize things and let some things go. Does a messy kitchen drive you nuts? Clean it first thing every day so you know it gets done, even if you don't get to every chore on your list. Working on the things that make you craziest first helps you feel like your home is more under control, although some days you won't even get to your top priority chores. You'll also need to just learn to let go of some things, realizing that your kids are only little for a while. So go have a play day at the park, get into a tickle fight with your toddler, or create messy art in the kitchen. You'll be creating priceless memories with your kids, and you'll find time to clean the house later.
Scenario Three: You're actually ready to go back to work or you never want to go back to work at all. Either way, you can feel guilty. Working moms feel guilty for missing out on time with their kids (especially if they really want to go back to a job they love), and stay-at-home moms can feel guilty for not providing more for their families (especially if they once brought in a steady income).
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How to Deal: Realize that both working and stay-at-home moms can be great moms. If your kids are happy, healthy, and loving, then you're doing fine, whether you work or stay at home. Remember, too, that a happy mom equals a happy baby. If working at a fulfilling job makes you happy, then do it. If staying at home makes you happy, even if it means spending less on luxuries, then do that.
Scenario Four: You lose your temper with your kids. Every mom eventually gets to a point with her little ones where she snaps a bit. Maybe you yell at your toddler or get into an argument with your teen. Losing your temper sometimes is normal, and as long as you aren't actually hurting your children, it's nothing to be consumed with guilt over.
How to Deal: Apologize, work on your stress levels, and find new ways to deal with behavior issues. Losing your temper often comes from dealing with too much stress, so find new ways to relieve stress in your life so you can be a more even-keel mommy. If you have recently lost your temper with your kids, be sure you apologize to them, as this helps teach them that yelling at people isn't a good idea for moms or kids and can help keep them from building up resentment towards you. If losing your temper is a constant issue, work on finding new ways to deal with the behavior issues that really get to you.
Scenario Five: You feel too tired to play with your baby. You may feel guilty for wanting to sleep in on a Saturday morning or lounge in front of the television all day. After all, your baby is developing every minute, and the more you play and interact with her, the better off she'll be, right?
How to Deal: Find ways to rest, and ask for help. Being tired as a new mom—or a mom whose been around the block a time or two—isn't out of the ordinary, and it's not something to feel guilty about. You work hard as a mom, and you need time to rest and recuperate, too. Whether this means taking a short nap with your little one each day, taking turns with your partner to sleep in on the weekends, or asking your in-laws to babysit so you can simply take a day to chill, do it.
Scenario Six: You have to ask for help. Moms are often made to feel like they should be doing everything—raising perfectly healthy well-adjusted kids, keeping a Martha-Stewart-esque house, cooking great and healthy meals for their families from scratch, and bringing in money to help with the family budget all at once. If they let even one ball drop, the guilt sets in.
How to Deal: Get over it. You aren't Superwoman. Asking for help doesn't make you weak, nor does it make you a bad mom. It simply makes you human. In fact, asking for help with anything—from watching your kids to cleaning your house to completing a project at work—is a great way to model teamwork and humility for your kids.
Scenario Seven: You can't give your kids all the extras. Working and stay-at-home moms alike often feel guilty when they can't provide Disney vacations, designer clothes, and a fully paid college education for their kids.
How to Deal: Teach your children financial responsibility, and realize that giving them a loving mommy is the best thing you can do for them. First, know that even if your kids complain about the stuff they can't have, having a mom who loves them to the ends of the earth and back will mean more to them than any toys, vacations, or clothes ever could. Second, take the opportunities you have to teach your kids financial responsibility. Here are some ways to do it:
- Give your middle and high school aged kids a back to school budget (in cash or a low-limit credit card) and let them get their own clothes. If your daughter decides to splurge on two designer outfits instead of six or seven more reasonably-priced ones, she'll have to deal with the consequences and learn from her spending mistakes.
- Check out college student credit cards for your older kids. They can help your college aged kids learn financial responsibility. Plus, you can put your available resources towards paying for essentials like books, tuition, and room and board, and you can let your student learn financial responsibility from covering everyday spending with a credit card used responsibly.
- Give your younger kids an allowance, and help them learn to save up for things they want. You can even do a matching donation option where your kids can get expensive toys and gadgets as long as they save up to pay for half. You'll be amazed at how much better care they'll give their toys and electronics when they've paid for part or all of them on their own.
Learning to live guilt-free as a mom starts with accepting your own limitations, whatever they may be. You aren't perfect, and that's okay. Your kids don't need you to be perfect. But they do need to have a mom who knows how to accept herself and to live gracefully through difficult situations. Once you become this kind of well-adjusted, guilt-free mom, you're giving your kids the gift of a great example they'll be able to follow for the rest of their lives.