As a Professional Coach and mom, I have shared thousands of hours in session with clients, one thing stays consistent – the ones that are hardest on themselves are moms.
It is normal to feel some mom guilt, but the guilt we want to get rid of is the debilitating, never-ending kind. The kind of guilt that has moms not giving themselves a break, until they break.
Moms show up with love and tireless support for the people in their lives, but are the first to:
- Tell you all the things they could be doing better
- Turn down a compliment that they totally deserve
- Say no thank you to support that they totally need
- Choose other’s minor needs over their own major needs
- Lay their head down at night overwhelmed by unkind thoughts inside their minds
Even though I am a professional Self-Kindness Coach, I am not immune to mom guilt. In fact, my struggle with mom guilt is a big part of why I became a coach. You can read the story here. In a nutshell, I was new full-time mom overwhelmed with thoughts that relentlessly told me “You are a bad mom”.
No matter how much I tried, or how many people around me said I was doing a good job, I could never feel good about myself or believe that I was doing it right. Even my daughter’s rosy happy cheeks and evident thriving could not wash away the darkness of the guilt and shame inside me.
I nearly drowned in the negativity until I got help with my thoughts. I learned how to get rid of and let go of mom guilt and the habit of self-criticism that had plagued me for a long time.
Getting support with my thoughts and learning how to choose and cultivate supportive thoughts naturally led to being motivated to act more positively.
I was able to socialize without crying every time someone asked me “How are you doing?”
I could look at my baby and feel so good about how well she was doing and give myself credit for all the things I was doing right.
Was I suddenly a perfect parent? Of course not because perfection does not exist!
Was I completely free of unsupportive negative guilt thought? Nope, but I sure had more supportive thoughts than negative critical ones which made all the difference.
Our brains are made to be creatures of habit so it takes time and persistence to create new thought pathways. That’s why it’s so helpful to get professional support for your mom guilt.
One of the most common questions I get from clients is:
“How Do I Deal with Mom Guilt?” Mom Guilt can feel inescapable, like just another hard part of being a mom.
What I say to each mom I work with is:
Being a mom doesn’t have to mean being weighed down by guilt.
You can feel as supported and cared for as your family is
by bringing KINDNESS to one thought at a time.
Here’s some ideas for where to start dealing with your mom guilt:
- For one day, pay attention to how your thoughts make you feel. Just notice what’s happening, no judgement, no fixing anything, just noticing. If you notice a thought that really doesn’t feel good, breathe deeply and say something kind and true to yourself.
- When you notice a mom guilt thought, as yourself – What would someone who cares about me say about that thought? And then say that to yourself.
- Make a list of all the things you do in a day for others. At the end of the day look at the list and write a couple sentences of acknowledgement for yourself and all you did.
- Share with someone who cares about you what you are really feeling inside. Tell them that you don’t want them to fix it, you just want them to listen.
- Start and end your day with 3 gratitudes about yourself. E.g. “I am a loving mom. I give big hugs to everyone. I figured out how to save money today.” Read them over and let them really sink in.
Am I a Bad Mom?
Sometimes, even when you are trying so hard, you may still feel like a bad mom. There are some common triggers to this feeling that you may want to look for and avoid. Here’s my personal Mom Guilt Cure Sheet in case it helps you. Left column are the things that makes me feel like a bad mom and right column are the things that cure that feeling. Try making your own sheet and post it on your fridge, bathroom mirror and in your phone.
How to support someone struggling with mom guilt
If you know someone who is struggling with mom guilt, here’s a few ways you can support them.
- Make opportunities to let them talk and you JUST LISTEN. Your caring for the mom will make you want to jump to finding solutions to her feelings, but just stay with the listening. Let her feel truly heard, acknowledged and understood. That is the best support you can give her.
- If she initiates and asks for concrete supports, help her make them happen. Build an action strategy that you can check in on and keep her accountable to. This isn’t policing her self-kindness, this is lovingly reminding her that it is important and she deserves to feel better.
- Ask the mom what her guilt thoughts are trying to tell her. Then write down what she says so she can see how untrue and often mean those thoughts are. Then build a list together of all the things that are more true than what that thought is trying to say.
Life After Mom Guilt
I want to leave you with a vision of what life can be like once mom guilt isn’t darkening your mental doorstep every minute of the day. Know that this vision has been realized by so many moms who have worked with self-kindness and it is 100% possible for you too.
You wake in the morning with energy and a feeling of calm, knowing that you have what it takes to make the best of the day. You start with self-care, nurturing your mind/body/spirit and have so much to give to your loved ones. Through each daily challenge you bring what you can to it while always knowing that your best is enough. Your loved ones feel how present you are to them because of how present you are to yourself. You grow as a person each day because you are in the habit of making time and room for your needs and wishes in your life. Your children learn from you how to do this for themselves. You lay your head down at night with gratitude for your life AND for yourself.
I am here for you, Mama, let’s make this vision a reality. Reach out to find out how you can be part of the Freedom from Mom Guilt movement.