When one becomes a parent, you have so many pressures. Moms have specific societal pressures that can influence them in more ways than one, and they may feel the famous term, mom guilt. You aren't giving enough time to your child. You aren't a good mom. You should be breastfeeding. You shouldn't be breastfeeding. You're a bad mom for spending too much time at work. You shouldn't feel overwhelmed because you are a stay-at-home mom.
As a mom, these pressures may make you feel you aren't enough.
Mom guilt is the feelings mothers have about their roles and their ability to meet their child's needs and live up to those roles. While any caregiver can experience this guilt, moms are usually held to a specific standard in society, causing higher rates of this guilt in moms.
This guilt may feel temporary, or you may be obsessing about the guilt with every decision you make as a parent. Of course, we can always compare ourselves with the "should" and "should not." However, regardless of society's standards for all parents, the perfect parent does not exist.
Some Causes of Mom guilt:
- Leaving your child with someone to babysit
- Not Breastfeeding
- Going to work
- Going back to school
- Taking time away for yourself away from your family or child
- Not being patient with your child 24/7
- Having a hobby outside of the child
- Comparing yourself to other moms
- Different parenting styles from those around you
- Trying to be the perfect mom
- Engaging in a healthy lifestyle, such as prioritizing physical health
Mom guilt can be detrimental to one's mental health. When your mental health is affected, other areas, such as your relationships, sense of self, and overall well-being, can be influenced. When mom guilt isn't dealt with, you can become mentally absent towards your children. You may find yourself struggling with your own needs and meeting your child's needs.
Negative effects of mom guilt:
- Not prioritizing your health
- Lack of sleep
- Negative self-talk
- Negative coping methods, such as substance use
To take care of your children, you need to take care of yourself. We always hear the phrase; you need to fill up your cup before you fill someone else's. But if you aren't supporting yourself, you won't be able to move forward.
- Forgive yourself for your mistakes
- Remind yourself that every parent struggles
- Utilize your supports
- Prioritize time for physical health
- Manage sleep
- Prioritize 5 minutes to yourself, and set rigid boundaries
- Let go of expectations
- You are a person beyond being a mom
- Regularly do things you enjoy because YOU enjoy them
- Practice gratitude
- Recognize negative self-talk, and challenge them – you are not your thoughts
Mom guilt can become very isolating and create more harm in your life. Seek out a mental health professional if you feel overwhelmed. A therapist can help you manage these emotions you are feeling.
Remember that motherhood is not a job that's always fun. You'll make mistakes, just as anyone would with any job. However, what's most important is the connection you are making with your children along the way.
Your mistakes are just lessoning part of the journey. To be a better mom for your kids, you need to take care of yourself first - for yourself.