Being a mom is hard. Let’s just be honest about it. It’s amazing and joyful and fun and tender and rewarding. It’s also demanding, tiring, and overwhelming at times. We work so hard to be excellent moms, but sometimes we succumb to mom guilt anyway. Why does mom guilt hit so hard and what can we do to overcome the feeling that we just don’t measure up?
Too Much Comparison
Our ability to compare ourselves to other moms is at an all-time high. With social media running rampant in our every day lives, it’s no wonder we don’t see the merit of our work when we’re constantly watching how everyone else does it. We’ve gotten to a point where we subconsciously assume we can and should do anything we see someone else do. You guys, this is pointless and ridiculous! Our time is much better spent investing in our own passions and interests than trying to be good at everything. We each have unique gifts and talents for a reason.
The unfair expectations we put on ourselves can easily turn our best efforts into a crushing disappointment. I shared about this here, and I believe that we’re happiest and most successful when we set realistic goals for ourselves. I hate running. It’s not something I’m interested in doing or find value in, so there’s no reason that one of my life goals should be to run a marathon. Just because I’m inspired by someone on Instagram who’s training to run 26 miles doesn’t mean I need to do the same.
Taking on too much
Right alongside comparing ourselves and setting unrealistic expectations is the problem of taking on more than we can handle. I just spent an amazing weekend away with my three besties: one has two kiddos and works part time as an ER nurse, one works full time and is step-mom to a teenage boy, one works from home with three littles and two step-kids. I’m a stay-at-home mom to two kiddos. We’re all different, but none of us is doing it all. every. single. day. When we try to do everything all the time, we end up exhausted. When we think we should do everything all the time, we end up feeling guilty when we can’t live up to our own benchmarks.
4 Tips to Overcome mom guilt
Set Reasonable expectations
I don’t know why, but sometimes it’s hard to accept the fact that I can’t do everything. Some days I feel like Superwoman, accomplishing so much. Other days, I feel like the only way I could have been less productive is if I never got out of bed. Most days fall somewhere in between. Moms juggle a lot of responsibilities and we need to learn to cut ourselves a break when things don’t go entirely as planned.
ask for help
I’ll be honest; this one is hard for me. Because I’m a SAHM and my husband is the breadwinner, it’s hard for me to delegate certain jobs to him. I feel guilty asking him to do more than he’s already doing because not only does he work hard, he’s very involved in taking care of the kids. I also feel prideful about being able to take care of things on my own. It’s a real winning combination!
There’s nothing shameful about asking for help when you feel overwhelmed. I’m saying this as much to myself as to anyone else. We all have limits and the days don’t always go as we planned. Last year, I was in charge of teacher appreciation week for my son’s kindergarten class. One of the responsibilities was decorating the classroom door. I was out of town the weekend prior, but decided that I could fit it in on Sunday afternoon. When I got home later than planned, I had to race up to school to get it done. I was frazzled when I could have easily delegated the decorating to any number of creative parents in our class.
Invest in friendships with other moms
Being able to share about my struggles and shortcomings with other moms helps me stay grounded. In relating with one another, we’re able to see that we all fall short sometimes. Having a safe space to confess my deepest insecurities about motherhood not only prevents it from building up inside, but it helps me keep it in perspective. Guilt has a lot to do with listening to the negative voice inside that points to our weaknesses and ignores our strengths. Hearing the words of those who value us counteracts the negative and points to the truth that we are a balance of strength and weakness.
Pray about it
The best way I can let go of my guilt is to ask God to take it away. Rather than listening to that negative voice that tells me I’m failing, I’m able to hear the truth that I need to find my worth in God alone. Does this mean I don’t want to be a good mom? Of course not. But instead of seeing my value in the precarious quest of “being a good mom,” I entrust my self-worth in the unwavering love of God. My self-esteem often depends on what I accomplish, but God sees me as his beloved child, regardless of whether I did all the laundry or put a nice dinner on the table.
Don’t let mom guilt taint the amazing job you’re doing! It’s difficult to avoid, but not impossible to overcome.