Moms, you can probably relate to this: You welcomed your first child into the world and, like every new mom, you felt a lot of things—excitement, anxiety, gratitude, uncertainty, relief and even fear.
But then, one more emotion you weren’t prepared to battle crept up. You started feeling it soon after your child was born, and now you’re convinced you’ll fight it for the rest of your life.
That’s right—we’re talking about mom guilt.
What Is Mom Guilt?
Mom guilt is when you feel like the hundreds of choices you make that affect your kids are probably wrong. It’s the loud voice in your head telling you everyone else has this parenting thing figured out and you don’t. The feeling in your gut that says:
- You’ve done something wrong.
- You’re not doing enough.
- You could have done it better.
- How could you do that to your baby?
You probably know all about that.
What Causes Mom Guilt?
Truth is, almost no mother is immune to mom guilt—and it’s tough. You may feel like a phony, like you’re the babysitter and you’re just waiting for the “real mom” to come home, swoop in with an umbrella like Mary Poppins, and take over with all the right answers.
Unfortunately, a lot of things make that guilt flare up for moms. But the thing that seems to do it the most is called working mom guilt. That’s when you stay home with your kids but feel guilty for not working outside the home and contributing to the family income. Or when you work outside the home but feel guilty for hiring childcare instead of being a stay-at-home mom.
See how the guilt gets you no matter which path you choose? Yeah, it’s ruthless. The mom guilt
never stops—whether you’re at home or the office. So let’s talk about some ways to deal with mom guilt and kick it to the curb.
How to Stop Mom Guilt
1. Do what’s important to you.
It can be extra hard to leave your children at home if you’re doing things you don’t believe in—things like heading to a dead-end job day in and day out or to another happy hour with your friend Lisa who you don’t even really like because she’s a chronic gossip.
That’s why you need to run all your decisions through this filter: Only spend time on things that are important to you. That way, you can focus on the importance of what you’re doing and keep the mom guilt from distracting you from living out the life God has called you to. And by the way, that might mean you have to find a job that doesn’t suck or set better boundaries with Lisa.
2. Don’t get caught up in comparisons.
Your values and your priorities are just that: yours. They won’t look the same for everyone, and that’s okay.
So, when everyone around you is working 80-hour weeks but you’re leaving the office at 5:00 so you don’t miss that dance recital, remind yourself: What I’m doing is important. And when you don’t answer emails at night because you’re with your family, or when you take a week off to go on vacation and rest, choose to not feel guilty.
Your family, your exercise, your rest and your hobbies are important. Don’t feel guilty for choosing them.
3. Ignore the haters.
Let’s be honest—every mom has been hurt by another woman judging her at one time or another. Yes, we all know a Karen.
Hear real-life parenting advice on The Dr. John Delony Show. Listen now.
Sometimes it’s the scowl on another woman’s face when she hears you’re taking off work for a weeklong vacation. Or it’s the tone in another woman’s voice when she asks you that dumb question: “Where is your baby’s hat in this weather?”
In those situations, you can’t control what the other person thinks about you, but you can control what you think about you. Instead of giving in to the guilt, listen to the voice of God—it will never condemn you or shame you.
4. Realize you’re not alone.
Because so much of mom guilt comes from feeling like other moms do a better job than you, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re the only one who’s dealing with it.
But here’s the thing: You’re not. Seriously. Plenty of moms have the same “I’m not good enough” feeling that brought you here. And by the way, dads aren’t free from it either. Dad guilt is very real for men who think they don’t know how to be a good dad.
Hopefully, knowing you aren’t alone in this struggle is encouraging. It would also be a good idea to talk with some of your mom friends (the helpful ones, not Lisa) to see if they have any advice or other good words to offer. As the Bible reminds us in Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV), “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
5. Give yourself some grace.
There are only two types of moms in this world: those who know they aren’t perfect and those who are lying to themselves. Really. There’s no such thing as a perfect mom. Everyone makes mistakes and tries things that don’t work.
That’s why it’s important to give yourself grace as you navigate the difficult role of being a mother. In case you haven’t realized it yet, this stuff isn’t easy! So cut yourself some slack and don’t beat yourself up when you feel like you’ve failed. It happens.
Let Go of the Mom Guilt
Just because you’re dealing with mom guilt right now doesn’t mean you’ll always have to. You can fight back, and you can win! Cut out the comparisons and take some comfort in knowing you’re doing the very best job you can. That is what makes you a rock star—not being perfect.
If you want to learn more about dealing with guilt and the anxiety that so often comes along with it, you need to read Dr. John Delony’s new book, Building a Non-Anxious Life. John will walk you through the Six Daily Choices you can make each day to ease your anxiety and bring more peace to your life.