Managing Mommy Guilt
When was the last time you felt guilty over the amount of screen time your kids had? Or the meals they ate (and the veggies that went untouched)? That nagging feeling that you're not quite doing enough is often called mom guilt. No matter your circumstances— full-time mom, working mom, or somewhere in between—mom guilt affects all moms at some point, whether we like to admit it or not.
The pandemic only exaggerated this parental guilt when families were put in unprecedented circumstances managing Zooms, virtual school, limited social resources, and juggling childcare with work. It was a lot.
And the role that social media plays in mom guilt can't be overlooked. When all the algorithm serves you is a curated feed of picture-perfect family moments, age-appropriate kid activities, healthy snacks, and school lunches that look like works of art, it can be hard not to compare.
But, as they say, comparison is the thief of joy. However, that doesn't have to mean living under a cloud. Here are our best tips for managing mommy guilt and keeping a level perspective when you're feeling off kilter.
What Is Mom Guilt?
Mom guilt can take on many forms, but for many, it’s the pervasive feeling that you’re never doing enough as a mother. It’s the “I should…” and the “other parents are…” thoughts that nag throughout the day and sometimes bubble up to cause anxiety and stress.
While the most common phrasing around this parental guilt focuses on the mothers—perhaps because society holds women to high standards when it comes to raising children—fathers and other caregivers can, of course, experience guilt at being pulled in many directions at once.
However, studies have shown that mothers feel this parental guilt more than fathers.
How to Overcome Mom Guilt
Here are a few tips for managing those pesky, nagging thoughts and feelings.
- Acknowledge it. Instead of keeping it all inside, take a breath and some time to understand what’s triggering your mommy guilt.
- Express it. Write down how you’re feeling, or verbalize it to your partner, family, close friend, or therapist—whatever works for you. This step helps you make sense of the what and the why, and crucially, how others around you can help.
- Talk about it. Trust us when we say that every mom has been through this on some level. The put-together mom in the carpool line? Yup. The perfect-seeming mom you see on Instagram with the cute lunches and picture-perfect sensory play bins? Her too. Seek out mom friends who you know will have your back and will be open with their experiences of motherhood. Remember that appearances can be deceiving. Being a mom is hard work!
- Define it. Can you try putting some boundaries in place? Mom guilt can strike when you’re maxed out with something else stressful in your life. Try and ask yourself what would make your situation better. A better work-life balance? More childcare support? A regular day off? Find out what is going to move the needle for you and commit to it.
- Make peace with it. Yep, after all that, mommy guilt is sure to return in some form or another. Make peace with it as part of motherhood. It doesn’t mean you’re failing!
You are Doing Your Best, So Don’t Forget it!
Ready to reframe mom guilt? Try thinking about it like this: Mom guilt is another form of your love and care for your children. While this expression might not be nearly as pleasant as others, try and remember that you’re the best mom for your kiddos. By making peace with it, you’ll be able to move forward with strategies that work for you and your family as a whole.