Like taxes and toddler tantrums are life’s inevitables, so too is mom guilt. We harbour guilt
even before our babies are even born, feeling bad about everything from not doing enough
preggy yoga and not listening to classical music each day to drinking a cup of coffee each
day, even though the doctor said it was okay (but Jane on Instagram said it was bad).
It’s a burden that we carry and I’m not sure it often does anything to improve our quality of
parenting. Rather, in most cases, we berate and often dislike ourselves for making mistakes
and not reaching some fictitious standard of perfect parenting, making us even more
vulnerable to further guilt.

As every therapist and self-help book has told me, guilt is a wasted emotion and over the
years I’m learning to focus on the good, to not let my guilt rear its horrible head too often,
and to be kinder to myself. For example, I know I make the most uninventive school lunches
for my kids but feeling guilty about it isn’t going to make me prepare Bento boxes and cut
fruit and veggies into animal shapes. I could feel the guilt for not giving them packed lunches
worthy of an Instagram pic, but as long as my kids are healthy and growing (thanks in part to
apples and peanut butter sandwiches!), I really don’t want to feel like a terrible mother all
the time.

Lunch aside, there are dozens of things I could feel guilty about. For example, I often go out
with friends and leave my kids at home with their dad. I spend a fair amount of time running
on weekends. I’m liberal with their iPad usage when I’m trying to work (a full day job) and
some nights it’s frozen pizza or toasted cheese for supper. Sometimes I forget to send them
to school with certain things, and more than occasionally I get angry with my toddler
because she’s nagged for the same thing five times in two minutes.
Sometimes I feel lousy that I don’t always get it right. However, I believe that if I cultivate my
confidence and work on being a happier mom than a guilt-ridden one who is saying “sorry”
all the time, then I’m a better mom, and passing on good traits to them.

How to ease the mom guilt

Here are some of my tips for cutting out the mom guilt that works for me. I suggest though
that if you’re really struggling and burdened by feeling guilty all the time, then it might help
for you to chat to a professional to work through your emotions and feel better as a mom.

  1. Be kind and compassionate to yourself
    Did you forget to pack your child’s gym clothes? It’s okay – you’re not a terrible mother.
    Allow yourself to be human and forgive yourself before you spiral into a cycle of feeling
    you’re not good enough. Choose to exercise being kinder and more compassionate to
    yourself – it really is a choice how you can respond to “mistakes”.
  2. Realise that perfect parenting doesn’t exist
    Despite what you might see and perceive on social media, there is no such as a perfect
    mother. There’s no point trying to attain “perfect parenting” because it doesn’t exist.
  3. Shield yourself from things that make you feel worse
    Speaking of social media, if accounts or people are fuelling your mom guilt, then hit that
    unfollow or mute button. There is nothing wrong with doing it (you aren’t the only one
    blocking them out), and you really deserve to be exposed to less things online that make you
    feel bad.
  4. Find your people
    Seek help and comfort (and child-free nights with wine) with those who “get you”, and who
    don’t make you feel guilty. They’re the ones who will say “I also put on Netflix for little Joey
    for two hours – you’re not alone” rather than “I can’t believe you let them watch TV – it’s
    really not good for their development”. Try to find a tribe who will support you, empathise
    with you and not judge, and who are just as “normal” as you are.
  5. Ditch the expectations
    Again, social media has made us think that our children’s rooms, parties and wardrobes
    need to be Pinterest-worthy, and if not, we’re failing as moms. There is no guidebook nor
    manifesto for how we need to decorate their nurseries or style their lunchboxes.
  6. Reclaim your identity
    Repeat after me: “I am more than just a mother. I am more than just a mother. I am more
    than just a mother”. You have an identity and value beyond motherhood, and you have
    needs and dreams. It’s okay to have them, in fact, it’s more than okay. Your kids will benefit
    from a happy mom who prioritises herself and takes care of herself before trying to tend to
    other people’s needs.
  7. Ask for help
    No, there is nothing wrong with you if you ask for help, and it doesn’t make you any less
    awesome or capable. Think of a CEO of a company… do they do everything themselves? No,
    they don’t. Rather, they rely on others and ask for help, while still doing their important job.

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