Mom guilt is the feeling of inadequacy that almost every mother experiences as they navigate the bumpy road that is parenting.
I snapped last week after telling my teenage daughter for the sixth time to clean her room while my toddler was crying because she was fighting with my seven-year-old over which cartoon to watch.
I felt like I actually lost control; I shouted, turned off the television, and ordered each one to their room.
I went to my room and threw myself on the bed. But then I couldn’t help but feel guilty.
Reasons for mom guilt
There are many reasons for mom guilt, some of which may include:
- Anger: Sometimes when we're stressed or pushed to the brink, we snap and then shout at our kids and feel extremely guilty afterwards. Learning how to manage your anger in a healthy way may be the solution.
- Preferential treatment: As a parent of more than one child, it is easy to find yourself treating your children differently depending on their behaviors, characters, and mostly their responses to your parenting. Unfortunately, feelings of guilt may kick in.
- The desire to run away: During the first years of my parenting, I was a stay-at-home mom. I wasn't happy being home alone all day with my children and I felt like I had lost a part of me. I often had thoughts of leaving, but at the same time I felt guilty for thinking that way.
- Working mom guilt: This is so common among working moms. Adjusting to being away from your child after maternity leave can be extremely difficult, especially if your child struggled with the separation, and many moms end up feeling guilty.
- The myths around motherhood: There are a lot of mistaken beliefs that being a good mom means you're never angry, or frustrated, or tired, or stressed. This is FAKE NEWS! Go easy on yourself, mama.
Find the cause
When I was battling mom guilt, I sat down and asked myself: Why do I feel guilty? What is its root cause?
And this is what I realised; I felt guilty because I thought I was losing connection with my children.
It's like I felt they wouldn't love me if I was strict or if I punished them, so I had to work on improving my connection with my kids while still remaining firm in my parenting roles.
5 tips for overcoming mom guilt
And this is what I advise:
- Put down your phone: Truth be told, that phone isn’t helping. In fact, it is worsening the disconnection with your children. Phones help us mentally escape but if you're working on a good connection with your children, putting away your phone is an important step.
- Create regular one-on-one time with each of your children: Having regular individual time with each of your children will help reduce the guilt and give each child the attention they crave from you. You could start with a certain amount of time each day or a few times a week, letting your child choose what they want you to do together. This helps relieves your guilt.
- Practice some me time: This you time is vital as it will help manage your stress levels and stop you getting overwhelmed and burnt out.
- Take one tantrum at a time: Sometimes, focusing on one meltdown at a time may help ease the load on your mind.
- Let go of expectations: Sometimes it's good to loosen up and sleep in an unmade bed, leave the utensils in the sink, let your kids fight and make up on their own. More so, put aside the expectations of other people who want to judge your parenting style.
If not addressed, guilty feelings can lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, or dissociation.
Remember who you are outside motherhood.