Moms are plagued with guilt over the smallest things from the moment we give birth.
The constant feeling of guilt can really take a toll on our mental health, so this is a reminder that we all do these things and that, as mothers, we need to stop feeling bad about them!
Here are the 10 Most Common Things Moms Feel Guilty About:
1. Asking for help.
This is probably the most common one. I am a complete control freak and very stubborn, so for someone like me, it can be physically painful to ask for help. It drives my husband crazy because he knows how unhealthy it is.
When I have asked for help with my children in the past, I felt immense guilt—I am their mother, I shouldn’t need help. But we all do; otherwise, we burn out, and that is not good for anyone.
Please do not feel bad about asking for help, whether it be asking your mom to watch your child(ren) while you nap without interruption after another night of no sleep or so you can get some groceries all by yourself. I wish I had done this more when my children were little, being that I didn’t sleep for four years straight.
No mother should feel bad for locking the door and taking an extra-long shower (assuming your kids are safe with another adult)—yet, we often do. It’s as though if we are not available for every beck and call, we are not being a good mom. But we are, in fact, being a better mother. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot properly take care of others.
So, lock that door and take that bath or that long shower. Stay and paint your nails; better yet, go get that pedicure, massage, or join that weekly yoga class. Self-care is important. You come out of it a new person, refreshed and recharged, and your kids will benefit from that.
I do not work. However, I know the guilt that comes along with it, as I have many friends who do work and who have expressed it to me over the years. Despite not being able to relate, I can speak firsthand as a child of a working mom, and I can tell you that by showing your kids that you can have a career and still be their loving mom, you are setting such an important example and valuable lesson. I grew up respecting my mom, watching her leave in her business suit, on her conference calls in her home office, and cooking dinner while still in her heels—knowing that if I wanted both a career and kids, I could have it. She was a badass, and so are you.
4. Dinners out or nights away.
Embarrassingly, I didn’t do any of these things for the first four years of parenthood. I breastfed both children for four consecutive years until the age of two (my kids are two years and two days apart). Therefore, I was home for every single bedtime, and then once they were asleep, I was so tired that I went to sleep myself.
Once I stopped breastfeeding, I reluctantly started going out past dark again to dinners with my girlfriends. In doing so, I saw that my dear husband was more than capable of putting both kids to bed himself, and it gave me a sense of freedom I didn’t realize I badly needed.
Don’t let mom guilt cause you to put off quality nights out with your friends; they are so good for the soul, and it is also great for your kids to have someone else do these things. It teaches them that they do not need you for everything.
If you never yell, teach me your ways. I do, and it’s a constant battle to remind myself not to. When I say yell, I am not referring to belittling or name-calling. I am referring to resorting to screaming to get them to do something after having asked calmly 45 times. Or screaming when they won’t stop fighting. I do this. However, my kids adore me and are happy and well-rounded young people. They are kind and do well in school, despite having a mom who yells when she is mad.
My mom claims that she yelled a lot, but I have zero traumatic memories of it. I am not advocating for being a yelling parent; I believe if we can remain calm, it is more beneficial for everyone. However, please don’t beat yourself up if you do. Your children are fine; they know how loved they are, and they won’t grow up hating you—I promise.
6. Not wanting to play.
Do you know how many “washroom breaks” I took when my kids wanted me to sit and role-play on the floor? My goodness, that was torture, and I am not afraid to admit it. I will colour, read, do anything to avoid holding a doll and trying to think of what to say. I lasted five minutes at a time. So, if you are feeling this way, that’s okay. You’re not alone, so don’t feel guilty. Play is hard because we are not four years old. And if you sit and play for hours on end, you are my hero.
7. Arguing with your spouse in front of your kids.
Guilty! I am not talking swearing or name-calling, but my husband and I don’t hide our bickering, and I do not feel guilty about that. People argue, and I think that it does kids a disservice not to see that. It is also important that they see an argument respectfully resolved and that life goes on. It gives them a realistic expectation of partnership when they grow up.
8. Forgetting something important to them.
Has anyone else forgotten it was pajama day at school and sent them in—gasp—clothing? Or maybe, you sent them with lunch instead of cash on pizza day, or perhaps, you forgot to pack their mittens, and their hands were cold at recess (okay, that one gives me actual anxiety).
Guess what? You are not alone. We are human, and mothers have about 450 tabs open in their brains with lists of to-dos; it’s natural to miss a few things here and there. Don’t feel guilty for being human and for showing your kids that. They will forgive you.
9. Not caring—sometimes—when they cry.
Kids cry a lot. If your child is crying for the 10th time since your morning coffee because you said they couldn’t have ice cream for breakfast or their sock is slipping off, you don’t need to feel bad for walking away and quite literally not giving a f*ck.
If we catered to every meltdown, they would never learn to cope. I felt zero guilt for walking away and ignoring that type of crying. And so should you. You are not neglecting them by not catering to every meltdown.
That being said, if your child is clearly hurting emotionally or if they are physically in pain, of course, scoop them up and make it better. Trust your gut; just don’t feel guilty if it tells you to go into the closet and shut the door for a couple of minutes. This little breather can count as self-care.
10. Crying in front of your kids.
I know many parents who feel bad if they do this. I have cried in front of my kids many times, and I think it only humanizes us and teaches them that we have the same emotions. I cry easily, so I couldn’t hide it even if I wanted to; I bawled watching the “Modern Family” finale with them last night.
I do have a few memories of my mom crying, though, and I admit it was truly devastating to see, so perhaps it’s best to just let it out when we feel it. Not to make our children feel bad, but to show them that we are humans, too.
Bottom line, we are all doing the best with what we have, and we all love our children with everything we have, so stop feeling guilty for being human.