Inside this post: Learn how to shake off the Mom Guilt that our parents never felt and start enjoying Motherhood.
It’s a cold and rainy day and I’m sitting on the couch with a book. I read…
“Do people look the same when they go to heaven, mommy?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“Then how do people recognize each other?”
“I don’t know, sweetie. They just feel it. You don’t need your eyes to love, right?”
With tears in my eyes, I look up and see my son staring at me.
A thought immediately snaps into my head…
I shouldn’t be reading, I should be playing with my kids.
Ah yes, the Mom Guilt has shown up again.
It’s so sudden, I’m shocked by its intensity.
My brain starts to spin.
Time goes by so fast, I should be embracing every moment.
I really should stop reading now…
But WHY? This is crazy!
At 4 and 7, my kids are pretty self-sufficient. They haven’t been asking me to play, and they seem just fine.
Logically, I know that it’s a good thing for my kids to play alone. It’s great for their development.
Why in the world do I feel this way?
I can’t help but wonder if my Mom ever felt bad for taking a few minutes to herself.
There’s some heavy pressure for Mama’s this day to be engaged all the time with our children.
We read stories about unattended children getting hurt by objects as benign as a paperclip, how parents get arrested for allowing their children to go outside and play alone, and how it’s important that we’re actively engaged with our children most of the day.
The culture of Motherhood these days leads to Mom Guilt in a way that it never has before.
We like to joke that our parents kicked us out of the house as soon as they could and didn’t expect us home until dinnertime.
And here we are within arms distance of our children all the time.
Anytime we sit down to do something for ourselves, we instantly feel like we’re letting down our children.
Personally, I’m tired of it.
Say No To The Mom Guilt
It starts right now.
Let’s break down the most common reasons why mothers feel guilt and discover real reasons why we should shake off the Mom Guilt.
I don’t spend enough time with my kids.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a working Mom who’s away from her kids all day, or a Mom at home, ALL Moms feel this guilt.
You want to spend time with your kids, but life is busy and hectic and no one else is going to do all your chores so you can play Snap Circuits with little Jonny.
The good news is that study after study has shown that the quality of the time spent with your kids trumps how much time you actually spend with them.
So instead of worrying about spending more time with your kids, just focus making the best of the time you have with your kids.
Read more here: Quality Matters: How To Make Time With Your Kids Count
I don’t like to play with my kids
Different parents connect with their kids in different ways.
My friend, Beth, loves being silly and pretend plays with her kids like a champ.
My other friend, Nicole, playfully teaches, cooks, and creates with her kids.
Not going to lie here, I want to be like Beth and Nicole. I look at them being so playful and creative with their kids and there’s this pang of guilt inside of me.
“Why can’t I teach my kids to cook like she does?” “Why don’t I enjoy getting on the floor and pretending?” Their kids love it so much, and I feel like my sons are missing out.
But, you know what? When I take a step back, I realize that I do connect with my kids in very different ways.
I love to wrestle, play board games, bake cookies, and work on puzzles with my kids. We will often pull out the play dough and make silly creations together. And, I’m always more than happy to build epic LEGO creations.
We all connect and show love differently with our kids, and that’s okay.
Maybe you’re a teacher who likes to guide your kids. Maybe you’d rather be in the kitchen cooking with your kids or cuddling on the couch reading together.
All that quality time counts.
Pretend play may make you want to escape to the laundry room, but you don’t have to play all the time to show your children that you care.
You do you. You are the perfect Mom for your kids, quit trying to be someone you aren’t.
The key is to find what both you and your child enjoy doing together and do more of that.
I’m terrible because I lose my temper.
Okay, let me tell you right now, you are NOT the only one who loses their temper from time to time.
I have over 500 people a year take my Mama’s Anger Managment Class because they are tired of yelling at their kids.
You are human and part of being human is having emotions, even some big ones like anger.
You might even be a spicy person who wears all your emotions right there on your sleeve, so you yell more, you love more, you cry more. You feel all of it more.
But, research has shown that just because you lose your temper, it doesn’t mean you’re hurting your child.
The most important thing to do is to apologize and repair after you yell.
All moms lose their temper from time to time, it’s okay.
Don’t believe me? Read this –> The 5 Myths About Yelling At Kids it will help you break free from the guilt.
I’m too strict/lenient. I have no idea what I’m doing.
None of us do, we’re all flying by the seat of our pants, trying to figure out how to parent our kids well.
We joke that kids are always changing, once we have them figured out they go and change things on us.
Well, it’s true.
That’s just one of the big reasons why parenting is so darn hard!
Yes, a good parenting book can help you, but don’t forget that what kids really need, more than anything, is unconditional love and a few boundaries.
Read: 6 Parenting Books That Will Change The Way You See Your Kids
The one thing I know for sure is that you love your kids. You wouldn’t be reading a blog like this if you didn’t.
You’re trying to do the best you can, and that matters a lot.
Research says that the most important thing a child needs to be resilient is one person who loves them and pushes them to do better.
My guess is that you’re already that person for your kids.
The key to being a good parent is to try your hardest, learn some new parenting techniques as they change, and to LOVE YOUR KIDS.
Think you can do that? Yep, I thought so.
I can’t take time away because my family needs me.
Whether it be 5 minutes to relax and read a book or 5 days for a kid-free vacation, so many parents feel guilty for taking a break.
It feels selfish. We’re told to “soak up every minute” and “it goes so fast.”
Parents are reprimanded for taking their eyes off their kid for one second, especially if that child gets in trouble. Hello, Mama of the boy who fell into the gorilla habitat a few years ago.
Society tells us that we must be present every minute because if we aren’t, we’ll be the one who’s blamed if something goes wrong.
But we also worry that our kids will be upset or let down if we can’t be available to them.
We feel like we must be present every second of every day.
But that, my friends, leads to Mom burnout like nothing else will.
We need to take a break from the hypervigilance of motherhood. We need to allow our souls to rest so we can be present and happy when we are with our families.
I’m ready to banish the guilt. So, I will sit here, read my book, and my kids will play by themselves. I’ll enjoy every single second…
Because there are some seriously good books out there, and I want to read them all. Afterall, if I didn’t take the time to read, I never would have found these books that have changed my life…
WonderA Man Called Ove: A NovelFirefly Lane: A Novel
Even though the guilt will still rear its ugly head, I will remember that it’s good for kids to play by themselves, and I need some self-care in order to be the best Mother I can be for my kids.
So I shall sit and read…
More For You:
- How This One Thing Stops You From Enjoying Motherhood
- The Most Powerful Response When Your Child Is Inconsolable
- In Defense Of The Loud Spicy Family
I thank you for this uplifting article. I found your message at exactly the right moment! After only one day of my three-year-old’s Mardi Gras break from school I found myself calling my own mother to say how exhausted and guilty I feel because I just want to to have a minute to myself!
Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one. Now, after taking this short break to read your article, I’m going to go tickle my son!
A. B. Newman
P.S. It’s also nice to see that you have the credentials to back up your views.
Thank you so much, Angela! Enjoy the tickle fight 🙂
I agree with the ever present mummy guilt!!! It just happens even though I know its not exactly rational!
Ha, it’s not rational, but we all do it.
Amanda – Thank you for taking the time to write this and provide such rich resources. It has helped me with something I think about a LOT, and given me some freedom and encouragement. As an active member of our church and other communities, and a therapist for many moms myself, it is a wonderful resource to have.
Thank you so much!
I read many different parenting/ motherhood blogs and books, and I have not seen anyone really fully address this topic. Sometimes I’ll read a reminder about the importance of self-care, but nothing about the total mind-consuming Mom Guilt battle. Anytime I step away from motherhood to do yoga, take a run, or even shower, I find myself saying “Should I really be doing this right now? What could I be doing with the kids?” It IS SO CRAZY that we think this way! Yes, we are mothers, but we are also individuals! Every single point of the article is spot on and came at the right time for me. (Especially the comparing of what I do with what other moms do.) Why do we do this? I’d love to know more about the psychology behind these kinds of thoughts that produce Mom Guilt. Thank you, thank you, thank you! – For taking the time to process this for yourself, debunk the myth, and share your insights with all of us here! What a gift!!!
Thank you Rachel, I’m so glad this post was helpful!
Thank you so much for writing this, Amanda!
As a mom of 3 kids, I have so many worries.
I always want to bring my children the best thing I have.
And yes, sometimes it’s so hard for me becaue not all people can understand what I have been through.
Thank you for your encouragement.
I love this so much!