You feel it. The ever-present pressure squeezes your heart and keeps telling you how you are doing this all wrong. Your lack of self-care and the superhuman expectations placed on mothers today can sometimes leave you feeling like you’re constantly failing at being a mother yourself. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Motherhood is tough. It’s a lot of responsibility and not for the faint of heart. Some may say, “is mom guilt a thing?” Sure it is, and a multitude of situations can cause it. One of the most significant causes is not taking enough t me for yourself. When you don’t take care of yourself, it impacts every aspect of your life — especially your parenting skills. You can’t be a good mom if you aren’t taking care o yourself first. Let me show you how to overcome mom guilt with four tips so you can get back to taking care of YOU:
When you know yourself well enough to understand your needs, you don’t feel guilty about taking care of them. This is because you know that your needs fuel you and make you who you are. You also realize that it isn’t selfish to care for yourself—it’s necessary.
You can define “self-care” however works best for you (a bubble bath? or watching TV?). Still, most people agree it involves doing something that brings pleasure or even just distraction from the obligations of everyday life. If you’re trying to do everything right, though, there is a tendency to think that self-care is a “luxury” that should be denied so that you can save it for when everything else is done.
But when we have no time for self-care, we’re less patient with our children, less patient with our partners, and less patient with ourselves. And all of this leads to more mom guilt and feelings of inadequacy. So how do we move past mom guilt? By getting clear about what makes us tick and what we need to be at our best as moms. Then we can plan for self-care—allowing ourselves small indulgences whenever possible and ensuring our basic needs are met daily.
Family is typically the most essential thing when you’re a mom. But losing ourselves and our sense of self is easy when we put our families first. We end up living according to the expectations of others: our partners, our families, and society as a whole. The truth is that only you can determine what’s best for you and your family.
You might feel drained and unfulfilled when you’ve found yourself trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. You might also feel resentment—that’s not good for anyone involved! When you aren’t the one making the rules, breaking them is extremely hard and can leave you feeling guilty about wanting something different.
Instead of living according to other people’s expectations, try making changes to improve your self-care. Set achievable goals that are tailored to your specific needs and desires. Instead of constantly feeling guilty that you aren’t doing enough or feeling like a bad mother because you haven’t made time for yourself lately, think about letting go of guilt altogether. Hold onto your priorities without worrying whether or not you are meeting someone else’s standards.
Avoid The Comparison Trap
It’s easy to look at our friends and neighbors and feel like we’re failures for not living up to their standards. It can feel like all the other moms have it together, have never felt a moment of self-doubt, and are always so calm, collected, and graceful.
In reality, most other moms are in the exact same boat as you—struggling with feelings of guilt and anxiety over the expectations they’ve set for themselves. They worry about not being a good enough mom or wife. They feel guilty when they want to do something fun or independent. They try desperately hard to be the best version of themselves that they can be while still having time to devote to their families. Many of them feel like they’re constantly failing at some aspects of their relationships but beating themselves up for feeling that way because “all moms struggle” or “all parents make mistakes.”
Most people—even those who seem to have it all together—have the same issues you do but don’t talk about it because there isn’t a lot of support in our culture for parents to air their dirty laundry. That’s why I’m writing this blog post: I hope that by speaking out about my struggles with guilt, I can permit other parents to do the same.
When we are in the thick of it, it can seem like motherhood is one long string of thankless tasks and sacrifices. But if you step back from the chaos and look at the larger picture, you’ll see that you have a lot of people who love you and want to help you. Yet, sometimes, even when you need help, it can be hard to ask for it. That’s why it’s so important to remember that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s just one way we can take care of ourselves when we need to.
Not only is asking for help an act of self-care, but by reaching out to others who want to help, you’re also allowing them to feel good about themselves and their relationship with your family. If a friend or family member offers help, don’t brush off their offer or assume they’re overstepping their bounds—take them up on their offer! Maybe you’ll have more time with your loved ones or get a chance to relax instead of running around all day to get things done.
It takes effort to maintain your health and energy throughout all the seasons of motherhood, but don’t be afraid to ask for the support you need.
If you’re constantly struggling with guilt and not taking care of yourself, it’s time for a reality check. Asking for help is a good thing. Putting your needs first does not make you selfish or ungrateful. Remember that self-care is always a work in progress, and it may be a challenging path. That’s okay—it’s normal, and it’s human. Generally, we accept this as adults, but we often forget it when it comes to our children. Mom guilt is a normal part of motherhood, but it doesn’t have to define us. So let’s focus on what is important: our health and well-being and the health and well-being of our children.