12 sensible ideas for coping with mother guilt, from mothers who get it


On top of that, as an entrepreneur, I’ve been so far away from my family over the past year that I’ve felt like I’m missing out. Sometimes I cry when I feel like I’m not quite doing the parenting job, so I started keeping a record [on my phone] full of victories to ease that guilt. There are photos of good days with our family, shouts from colleagues, and love from members of my community. It reminds me that I am capable and that I am valued, and it pushes me to keep going. —Mia Cooley, Parenting Coach, Founder, and Mom of 5 (and Expecting)

« Being a mom doesn’t just mean being a mom. »

After having my first son, I felt so much guilt for doing something that was just for me. Every time I left (even just to meet a friend for lunch) I was rushing. I turned down invitations to go out with people. I didn’t go to the gym that often. If there was an after hours work event, I felt bad for saying yes. So I really isolated myself.

Moms often think it’s selfish to want to pursue things that are right for us and have nothing to do with our children, but having those desires isn’t selfish. It’s not about saying « I matter more than my family ». It’s just saying, ‘I matter too.’ And the older I get, the more I accept that I can’t be the best mother for my children if I’m not at my best. —Alayna Curry, public relations professional, fitness instructor and mother of a 3 and 7 year old

« It’s about allowing yourself to be imperfect. »

To process my guilt, I rely on reason, logic, and loved ones who can remind me what kind of mother I am. Guilt is often rooted in deeper insecurities, and we need to identify and deal with them. Personally, I worked beyond my traumas to allow myself forgiveness for my faults and the things I wish (or didn’t) have done. Sure, the choices I made or the words I spoke back then could have been more elegant or nurturing, but mothers (like all humans) are imperfect no matter how hard we try.—Diana Stobo, author, entrepreneur and mother of twins, 26 and 30

« I realized that my daughter needed her mother to have a healthy mind and body. »

When I was a young mother, I had problems with breastfeeding. It was incredibly painful and I was barely able to function. The guilt was overwhelming as I imagined all the damage I was doing to my daughter because all the experts were saying « breast is best ». One day I realized I had two options: I could continue this fight where I was barely there for my daughter and in excruciating pain, or I could step up and be there for my child as a result. . The moment I made up my mind and decided to stop breastfeeding, the guilt went away and I was able to be the mother I wanted to be. —Wendy Woodhall, executive director of a community organization and mother of a 17-year-old

« For supportive moms, letting other people help you is so important. »

Part of my mother’s guilt stems from me overthinking and doubting that I’m making the right choices on my child’s behalf, even though I do a lot of research online before making a big parenting decision. Some days life gets overwhelming or I’m busy and can’t spend much time with my daughter one-on-one. I’ve learned to accept that it’s not possible to be perfect in every aspect of life, and that’s okay. It’s an important concept for new moms to realize that you can’t be in two places at once, and you can’t be everything, all the time – and it doesn’t make you a worse mom for asking. help. —Lisa Andrews, stay-at-home mom of 7-year-old

« You don’t have to be everything to everyone all the time. »

You have to give yourself grace. There’s nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed, and there’s nothing wrong with occasionally focusing on your work or giving your kids your full attention and keeping your laptop turned off for the night. My boys are old enough now to understand that I work hard to support them, and I remember that I become a great role model for them by showing them my success as a business owner. My goal in everything I do is to focus 100% of my energy on the plate (or element of my life) that I am being served at that moment. I can’t do everything, but I always try to give my best in every area of ​​my life, and in the end, that’s what matters most. —Beth Booker, CEO of a PR agency and mother of a 7- and 4-year-old

« Don’t let unrealistic expectations steal the joy of the present moment. »

I have times when I feel like I’m « failing » my kids because of the standards I hold myself to in my head, and this is something I continually work on through daily reflective journaling and learning. other mindfulness practices. I’ve found that aiming to be more present in all aspects of life is the way to relieve mom’s guilt. When I work, it gets my full attention. When I am with my children, they hold all my attention. When I’m one-on-one with my husband, he gets my full attention. Quality over quantity is a philosophy I try to live by; the people in my life deserve the best version of me, even if that means shorter periods of time rather than being thin, stressed, or distracted for more hours of the day. —Jordan Harper, CEO of a skincare brand and mother of 4-year-old, 2-year-old and 11-month-old twins

« I had to learn that mother guilt isn’t something that just goes away as your kids get older. »

I feel a certain level of guilt in my mother on a daily basis because I know that I can always do more for my children. I felt it as I rushed from work to after-school pickup, hoping my kids weren’t the last to wait. There are times I felt it after bullying my kids trying to clean the house. Or when I gave them EasyMac for dinner because I didn’t have time to prep anything ahead of time. Over the past five years (and three kids later), I’ve come to realize that that feeling of guilt doesn’t necessarily go away as your kids get older. But, more importantly, I also learned that going through this self-doubt and self-rejection doesn’t make me a bad mother, and the stress of pressure to be « perfect » will never help me become best for my children. . —Christina Kim, COO and mother of 5-year-old, 3-year-old and 3-month-old

“My children don’t expect perfection from me. They just want me as I am, completely flawed but loving and committed.

My mother’s guilt kicked in for me when I returned to full-time work earlier this year. I rarely feel like I have enough time for my two little ones. I also rarely feel like I have enough time for myself, and when I take that time, it’s hard to get rid of the feeling that I’m doing them a disservice by not being there. However, I managed to manage the feeling of not being up to par by tempering my expectations and not comparing myself to an unrealistic standard of « good mom » in my head. Many mothers overthink what that really means, but « good » is subjective and what might be good for you and your family may not be good for me and mine. Getting over mom’s guilt is something I have to deal with on a daily basis, but I think over time I’ve learned not to let it get the better of me. —Lauren Winfrey, TV journalist and mother of 3 years and 11 months

« Forgive yourself and allow yourself to do what you feel is right at the time. »

One of my very first experiences with mommy guilt was when our nanny took my eldest to one of those baby classes. He was crying while the other kids were playing, and our nanny called me to tell me. I just remember sitting at the desk and starting to cry. I was like, am I not paying enough attention to my child? Am I not doing what I have to do as a mother? I try to remember during those times, when I feel like I’m working too hard, that I’m also setting a great example for my children, who will know and remember that their mother worked very hard. For hard-working moms, I think it’s about constantly reminding yourself to balance the guilt in your head with acknowledging all the good you’re doing for your family and not letting shame wash over you. —Margaret Wishingrad, CEO, entrepreneur and mother of a 6 and 2 year old

« I’m exhausted, but I know that everything I do for my children is worth it. »

To juggle so many things at once, I’m not sure anyone has the perfect solution. But, when I’m faced with requests for help with this or that, or when I start to feel myself going into a spiral of guilt and exhaustion, I take a deep breath to reset myself a bit.

What has also helped me a lot is recognizing that at the end of the day, I know that I am one of the lucky ones who enjoys spending time with their children. They are now charming young adults, kind, funny, warm and empathetic. I’m lucky to have a good relationship with them, and when I spend time with them, all the stress, fatigue, and endless to-do list kind of falls by the wayside. Time spent together is precious and uplifting. —Janel Hastings, educational consultant, adjunct teacher, and mother of a 16- and 19-year-old


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