“Mom, you should parent in whatever way works for your family and spend less time worrying about other people’s perceptions of how you’re doing. Can we stop being so hard on ourselves and instead focus on the good work we are doing, the results of which are evident in the awesome little people we’re raising?” -Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face
Moms - it’s time we kick mom guilt to the curb.
Where did this phrase even come from? “Mom guilt.”
We should not feel guilty for spending time away from our children. For having jobs outside the home. For taking time for self-care: whether that be a workout, a pedicure, dinner with friends, a date with our husbands, or an early bedtime.
We need to stop trying to be it all. We need to stop trying to be everything to everyone.
Because we can’t do ALL THE THINGS. I’m still learning how to navigate life, how to find my own definition of success. But here’s one thing I do know - the best way to succeed at life is to choose your battles wisely.
Our battles are our goals
Your battles are really, ultimately, your goals. Think about it in the context of parenting battles. As parents, we have to choose our battles daily.
Sometimes, something comes up with my son, and I start to try and use logic. With a toddler. (If you're are or have been a mom of a toddler, you know this is a ridiculous proposition.) Then I think, “in the grand scheme of things, does this really matter? Am I teaching him a life lesson? Or can I let this one go?”
Is there a goal in the battle? No? Then let it go. Some of the most relieving moments are when I let them go. A whole banana instead of half a banana? We choose bananas over PopTarts in our house, and that’s a win for me. Digging in the dirt right before nap? Kids are washable. I’m grateful that he’d rather be indoors than out.
What are your personal battles? What do you struggle with? Stop thinking of them as struggles, and start thinking of them as goals.
We have to fight for what we want. And as moms, we need to stop apologizing for who we are as people, as if it detracts from who we are as moms. You can be a mom and have your own goals, your own dreams.
You can be a mom and still take time for YOU.
Pick your goals, set your sights on them, and then laser focus on those. Don’t let the stuff on the peripherals creep in the “mom guilt” door. It will eat you alive, guaranteed.
Each time I’m having an internal battle, something that creeps in that I start to feel “mom guilt” about, I stop and ask myself a single question. Why?
Why do I feel the way that I feel in this moment? Is it something I truly feel and believe? Or is it a lie that I’ve just spent years convincing myself as true?
Am I being true to who I am as a mom, and a person? Or am I letting my perceptions of other moms skew my perception of myself?
We have to stop comparing ourselves to each other. There’s no one right way to be a parent. No one right way to be a mom.
Are there any dads out there that have ever been asked if they feel guilty? For working outside the home? For having a career? For building a company? For providing an income for the family? For taking time out to go hunting or fishing or watch a movie or doing whatever they needed for themselves to be a better parent for their children?
My guess is that if they do exist, they are few and far between.
We spend our time as moms working to teach our children values. Raising them to be kind humans. But do we teach them to be kind to themselves?
The silent stories we tell
What stories are you telling your children?
We have a running joke in our house where Brandan asks Slater, “Slater, who loves you?” His first response is always “Mama!” Then we say, “who else loves you?” “Dada!”
I’ve started adding on one more - “and who else loves you?”
...and I am teaching him to say, “Me!”
Remember, they are always watching, always listening. They mirror everything you do. If you demonstrate self-love, self-care, and taking time for you, without feeling guilty about it, they will do the same for themselves. They will know what a healthy relationship with themselves looks like, as well as a healthy relationship with YOU.
Things I feel mom guilt for but shouldn't
I bet we could all write our own novels on this topic, amiright? Here are some of the things I've felt mom guilt for in the past:
Getting a haircut
Taking a bath
Leaving my son in front of the TV while I go to the bathroom
Leaving my son in front of the TV while I eat something in the kitchen that I don't want to share with him
Scrolling through my phone while sitting through yet another episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
Wanting to go grocery shopping without him
Wanting to go anywhere without him
...and the list goes on.
Things that matter
- Teaching our children self-love. Self-care. Showing them that you value yourself enough to take time to make yourself a better human for them, and that you want them to do the same.
- Displaying affection with your partner, friends, and family. This teaches them tenderness and love, and that it’s not something to shy away from. If they never see you hug and kiss and act with tenderness to people other than them, how will they learn it?
- Being true to who you are as a person- this will teach them to be true to themselves.
- Remembering that if you care enough to feel mom guilt, you care enough. Your love and caring is what will see them through at the end of the day.
Things that do not matter
- That for your kids’ ‘snack day, you sent grapes and string cheese and not a Pinterest-project snack made of apples and raisins and peanut butter and pretzel sticks made to look like edible spiders. Do you think your kids remember two minutes after eating snack what they just had? No. Take the time and energy you would have spent building apple spiders and spend it on you.
- What your mom friends are doing with their kids. There’s no one right way to be a parent, no one right way to be a family. Be true to you and your values, and you’ll get it right.
- That at the end of a long day of school and errands and snacks and naps and chasing and wiping, you can only muster the energy for another episode of Tumble Leaf and not an art project of glitter and glue. I promise, spending that time with your kid on the couch is not going to rot their brains or give them developmental issues.
Be present in the moments that matter. Really and truly present. And when you need to take time for you, do it. Without guilt, without shame, without apology. Do what you need to do to be the best mom you can be for them, and the best version of yourself for you.
Parent with good intentions. Set expectations for life and love. Show them what you’re capable of, and in turn what they’re capable of. And then? Do the best you can, giving yourself grace on the days you don’t get it right.
The good news is, you get a fresh start tomorrow.
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