We know that you would never trade your role as a parent for all the spare time in the world. We also know that welcoming a baby into the house, even if it isn’t the first one, can mean big adjustments. To-do lists seem to grow larger, days get shorter, and stress might level-up a notch. Feeling ashamed or guilty of not getting something done, or forgetting to do something can be frustrating; especially if you’re in the postpartum phase (which is likely).
First and foremost, you’re not alone and mom-guilt is normal. We all experience mom and dad-guilt at some point and time. However, if your mom-guilt is becoming overwhelming, and it’s a struggle to cope with the shame or guilt, the following strategies may offer some help.
Mom guilt, as well as dad guilt, is feeling that you’re not doing enough, or you’re not good enough as a parent. These feelings can pop up at any time, but there are some fairly common triggers including:
- Returning to work after maternity or paternity leave
- Dealing with unwanted opinions regarding your parenting choices
- Juggling household tasks and parenting responsibilities
- Struggling with the lack of hours in a day
- Balancing your role as a parent with your own needs
- Prioritizing moments of self-care
- Spending time away from the kids
While some guilt is normal to experience, there becomes a problem when too much time is spent sweating the small stuff and time gets lost on the bigger-picture perspective. Those little things like how incredibly adorable your little one is and how it’s ok that not all the dry clothing is folded. Unchecked guilt can become dangerous for some of us, and that can lead to unhealthy behaviors and depression.
If the moments of guilt or shame and if resentment ever rears its head, it’s time to take action now!Take A Moment To Help Yourself
If we can’t help ourselves, how can we help our children? Sometimes you have to give yourself a moment to get a bit of fresh air. While you’re at it, go get a massage or pedicure. Remember, loving yourself is one of the best ways you can love your little ones. If it makes you feel better, you can call it a mommy time out.
Share The Load
If you have a partner and your chore list seems a little long for the moment, ask them to pitch in on the extra. As a couple, we have to sometimes share the load to help the other along. No worries, it always circles back around when it’s needed. You’ve carried a growing child in your belly for months, went through an insane delivery procedure; we’re sure your partner can wash a load of dishes or sweep the kitchen.
If you’re single, look for a network of other moms on their own like you. You might find the best of friends for yourselves, as well as the children. Downtime and friendship can go hand-in-hand, and they’re healthy!
Surrounding Yourself With Supportive People
Avoid any of the people who make you feel guilty and judged. Even if they’re friends or relatives, shake them off and keep your distance until you’re ready. Eventually, they should get the message, or maybe they'll ask you what’s going on. Explain yourself only if and when you wish! For the people who are supportive, keep them close!
Learn To Recognize Irrational Thoughts
We all have healthy worries and concerns. We also have irrational thoughts that can negatively impact our mental and emotional health when left unchecked. It’s common to experience mom-guilt after returning to work, but it’s counterproductive to allow irrational thoughts to cloud your life. Your little one will grow and develop. Missing milestones is a rational thought that makes us sad, but we don’t have to let things get so far out there that we make brash and negative choices.
A few more tips we’d like to leave you with are, avoid any bragging games. Parents can be notorious for bragging about their children, and it can be easy to jump in. Resist the urge to engage as soon as it stars. Change the subject and move alone. Nurture your relationships, they matter. If you still struggle with mom-guilt or shame, reach out to a professional who can directly help you work through it. Parenting is tough, and it’s ok to need a little help.