5 Simple Ways to Dump the Mom Guilt

Have you ever heard of mom guilt? Well, several years ago, back when Oprah still had her famous talk show, I watched an interview with her and Gwyneth Paltrow.  I don’t remember much about the interview, except for one thing that Gwyneth said.  She was talking about the flood of guilt she felt right after giving birth, when her first child was placed in her arms.  “Guilt?” I thought….”Really?”

Not yet being a parent, this concept was completely foreign to me.  And it took years for me to completely realize how much guilt we, as moms, take on.

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Notice, I said “take on.”  I don’t think anyone really intentionally heaps guilt on our backs, not even our well-meaning parents with their “helpful” suggestions!  And our children, they don’t know how to parent, so we aren’t getting judgmental stares from our two year old when we serve cereal for supper instead of a 4 course dinner!

No!  We can dig up all kinds of mom guilt on our own.  Maybe, it’s because, in our attempt to do EVERYTHING RIGHT, we read all kinds of parenting books (especially with our first child), and then feel that we should follow ALL of the advice completely…. even if it’s contradictory!

Or maybe it’s because some of us are idealist (ahem!), and we don’t like the dirty dishes in the sink reality of real motherhood.  We aren’t going to be satisfied until our house is spotless and our children are quietly playing a game that you make for them from Pinterest, while their baby sister sleeps!

Oh, fellow Mamas, we have to give ourselves a break! If we get stuck in our discouragement, we will not be able to love our families and reach them for Christ like we are meant to!  So, let’s dump the mom guilt that we carry around and shift our perspective just a little!

We Just CAN’T Do Everything!

First, we have to remember, “You can do anything, but not everything!”  I love this quote by David Allen, author and productivity expert.  Notice, this quote was not written by a woman.  Because, likely a woman would hate to admit that she couldn’t do everything. She might beat herself up and continue feeling guilty about it, but she would likely never say it out loud.

Quote: You can do anything, but you can't do everything!

We must prioritize and yes (sigh), maybe even get a little better organized.  (This is not about inducing guilt, but for some of us (me), that could help us be more productive.  And remember that life and motherhood has it’s seasons.  A new mom will have much less time to entertain or do deep spring cleaning than a mom with older children.  And  you have to pick what is important to you and your family, and then work on what is possible to accomplish.

Focus On What You’re Doing Right

It’s so easy for us to slip into beating ourselves up for what we feel that we aren’t doing well.  For instance, I have never been too good about getting in the floor and playing with my kids.  I am much more of a “you guys go upstairs and play and I’ll stay down here and do my thing” kind of mom.  I am not proud of that, but that’s just me.

Recently, I have seen a commercial (by the makers of a migraine medicine) that shows a mom with a migraine that gets dressed up and is playing with her daughter, all while battling her migraine!  Talk about feeling awful!  That makes me feel like the worst mom around!  There comes that mom guilt!

But why can’t I just step back and say, maybe I’m not good about playing with my kids, but I try to make feeding them healthy food a priority.  Or even, I keep the laundry done, or I run the kids to practice after school.  We are all doing SO MUCH, we shouldn’t feel guilty about the area that we can’t give 100%.

Don’t Feel Guilty For Needing A Break

As moms, I think we feel bad for sometimes wanting a break.  But moms have needs too!  Moms are in the unique situation of giving and giving and giving of ourselves, but when we need some time away from those wonderful blessings that God has given us, we sometimes feel like we are failing.

My children will walk past their father in the kitchen, head into the bathroom while I am taking a shower and ask me for milk!!!  My husband is a wonderful father, but he doesn’t know what it’s like to be needed like that!  And because we are so needed by so many people, sometimes, we need to just step back and take some time for us.  We need to do something that is totally relaxing, and more than likely is outside of our home (where there are no to-do lists, dirty dishes or needy children)!

We’ve all heard that you can’t pour out of an empty cup.  And for mothers, this is SO IMPORTANT for us to realize and act on.  We are constantly in a state of pouring, and if we don’t fill up, we will run dry.  Then what we are giving will be half-hearted, and that will make us feel even more guilt.

Be Your Own Cheerleader

I have always been an encourager.  I don’t ever really want to point out where someone has messed up.  In a ballgame, when all of the other parents are yelling “Come On!  You could have gotten THAT!”  I am saying, “It’s OK, that was a good try!!!”

So why is it so easy for us to cheer for and encourage others, but then constantly beat ourselves up?  We hear a lot nowadays about negative self-talk.  And it’s true! We really can tear ourselves down with the constant negativity playing in our own minds.

And we would never want our children to learn the trait of beating themselves up! So let’s remind ourselves that we are doing a great job, and that God himself picked us to be the mothers of these special children, because He knew that we would be the best mothers for them!

Pray To Let Go Of Your Mom Guilt

Last, but certainly not least, PRAY!  Being a mom is SO HARD!  Many say, “it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love!”  And we truly can’t do it all on our own.

Prayer can help us release our mom guilt.

But maybe that was God’s plan all along.  Maybe He knew that being a good parent might put us on our knees seeking Him and His guidance.  And the wonderful thing about being a parent and a believer is that we are given grace…for ourselves…and I believe that God offers grace many times to fill in the gaps of where we may fail with our children!

So, let’s continue to try, with God’s help, to be the best moms that we can be.  Let’s take a breath, stop trying to do everything, focus on what we are doing right, take a break when we need it, look for ways to encourage ourselves, and pray for strength! And let’s also remember that God offers us as believers, NOT GUILT, but REST!

 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

What a blessing it is to have a God that knows our hearts and that could see from the beginning of time how much we would need Him!  Let us turn to Him instead of getting trapped in our guilt!  In what ways do you combat mom guilt, please share with us in the comments below.

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  1. I love what you said about sticking to what you’re good at. I’m not good at playing with my kids either. They always ask me, and I maybe last 10 mins before I’m bored. But I can sit with them forever reading books to them. I was often feeling guilty about not playing with them, but now I know that I can find something else for us to bond about, and still feel connected with them. Thank you!

    1. Samantha, that is SO TRUE! We all have our strengths, and leaning into them is so important so great job!!! I think it’s important for us to dwell on the things we are doing well, not our weaknesses! =)

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