Dealing with Mom Guilt & 4 Ways to Let it Go

Why does mom guilt hit so hard and what can we do to overcome the feeling that we just don't measure up?

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.

Unrealistic Expectations

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 best friends. One has two kiddos and works 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.

My pride fools me into thinking it’s better for me to be exhausted than to admit that I can’t do it all alone.

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, and 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 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.

Get on your knees

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 my accomplishments, 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 distract you from the amazing job you’re doing! It’s difficult to avoid, but not impossible to overcome.

Why does mom guilt hit so hard and what can we do to overcome the feeling that we just don't measure up?
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How to Spend Your Time Wisely

Some days my house is spotless, but I’ve barely had a spare minute to do anything else. Other days are packed with fun, but our home looks like a bomb went off. Our family goes through seasons of busyness and periods of calm, and our days rarely feel perfectly balanced. Going through life as a family will always bring extra responsibilities and expectations into the mix. My mindset during this time: embrace the chaos, but don’t invite it in.

Spend your time wisely by making decisions that reflect your priorities.

Life moves in seasons

From the time babies are born, they constantly move from one phase to the next. Just as you feel that you’ve figured out one new behavior, they continue on to the next. A few days after we brought our first baby home, one of our good friends left us a hilariously encouraging message saying, “So right about now, your biggest question is: where the heck is the manual for this thing?” It was 100% true. Even at 6 and 9, my kids still go through periods that have us wondering how best to parent them. I have no doubt that some of the trickiest phases are still ahead of us in the teenage years.

The good news is that these phases are typically short-lived. A busy time in our family pulls us in many directions, but is often followed by a period of rest. Just as the harvest is often the busiest time for a farmer, afterward he is able to enjoy the result of his hard work. This is never more true for me than during the Christmas season. I put in a lot of extra time shopping, planning, wrapping presents, and decorating our house so that we can enjoy the celebration together. By doing the work ahead of time, I’m able to relish the joy of Christmas with my family.

Make your “yes” meaningful

Ecclesiastes 3:9-10, 12-13 says, “What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with…I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always “take pleasure in all my toil.” I’m thankful that we have food on the table, but I’m not exactly thrilled by another trip to the grocery store. These verses remind us that God did not intend for us to sit around all day. After God created the first man and woman, He gave them responsibilities. Our time on Earth is meant to be productive. In order to be joyful about my work, I have to be careful about how I manage my time.

In The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst writes, “The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep. The schedules we keep determine the lives we live. The lives we live determine how we spend our souls. So this isn’t just about finding time. This is about honoring God with the time we have.” (p.23) If we’re constantly running on empty, we’re not honoring anyone with our time, no matter how many commitments or jobs we can check off our list. Being busy may be culturally appropriate, but it doesn’t allow our souls to thrive.

Obviously there are times when we can’t help but be busy. Sometimes my kids have back to back school performances or events scheduled at the same time. I’m not talking about that type of accidental overcommitment. I’m talking about when we stretch ourselves too thin by saying yes when we should be saying no. By turning down commitments that we know will drain our time and energy, even though they might be fun, helpful, or worthwhile tasks, we are saying yes to our own well-being and that of our families. In this way, we’re not inviting chaos into our lives without purpose.

Making purposeful decisions about your time helps find balance and allows you to use your time well.

Making purposeful decisions about your time

How can we acknowledge the reality that family life can be busy without surrendering control of our time? By making purposeful decisions about how we use our time. Instead of committing to projects on a whim, we have to think honestly about what it entails. Here are three things to remember before you take on another commitment for yourself or your family.

Don’t underestimate the requirements. How much time will you need to devote to this task, event or activity? I often over-simplify tasks in my head and end up overwhelmed when a project requires more time than I planned. It’s hard to say no to something you genuinely want to do, but if it demands more time or energy than you have to give, it will quickly become a burden rather than a blessing.

Manage your expectations & those of your family. This goes hand in hand with the previous point. There’s a conference I want to attend in a few months, but it falls on the same weekend as a father-son camping trip. Before I make my decision, I need to discuss the timing with my husband, and also plan childcare for our daughter. To make a decision without considering the impact on my family would be disrespectful and potentially problematic.

Count the cost. My daughter takes a dance class once a week. She enjoys the class and rarely has to pass up other activities because the time commitment is minimal. We’re not going to sign her up for a highly competitive dance program requiring several practices a week because she doesn’t have the necessary passion for dance. If an activity or project is going to stretch the demands on your time, you need to make sure it’s worth it.

As a mom, I often feel like I need to be all things to all people. The truth is it’s just not possible. If we want to be able to enjoy the harvest, we can’t be responsible for sowing the seeds everywhere at all times. At some point, something’s gotta give. We have to make decisions that allow the best use of our time for ourselves, our families and for what God is calling us to do.

 

{Linking up to A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Thoughtful Thursdays, Salt & Light}

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10 Days of Advent: Days Nine & Ten

Merry Christmas! You can check out all the previous Advent activities here. The holiday season has been a lot of fun for our family. We have some great activities planned with friends and family for the days leading up to Christmas.

Go Caroling

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” You may not be a fan of Buddy the Elf, but you can’t beat singing carols to bring out the Christmas spirit. One of our wonderful neighbors planned a progressive dinner to celebrate the season in the neighborhood. We went to the homes of five different families and caroled a little in between. One of the neighbor dads is in a band and helped lead all our little merry-makers in song. The kids absolutely loved it and the neighbors enjoyed hearing our joyful little singers.

Bring the message of Advent home this holiday season. Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas as a family.

Read the original Christmas story

Amidst all the excitement over presents and Santa, we don’t want to forget the reason we’re celebrating. By reading the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth, it brings the focus back to the miracle of Christmas. We’ve spent the past month immersed in festivity. Now it’s important to remember that Jesus is the true gift. When we go back to the original story, we rekindle the joy of knowing that there’s more to this season than drinking hot chocolate and admiring twinkle lights. Take time to remember why we celebrate at all and what a wonderful gift that is for us.

Bring the message of Advent home this holiday season. Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas as a family.

I hope you had a truly magical Advent season!

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10 Days of Advent: Day Eight

It’s day eight of my ten days of Advent series and Christmas is practically here! If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can check them out here. As the countdown winds down, family is starting to arrive and there’s less to check off of your to-do list (hopefully.) Take the opportunity to spend extra time with visitors and have some fun with a family game night.

More and more, pop culture is making games out to be something that require a screen. While those can certainly be fun, to me, it doesn’t compare to an old-school game played with a group. Scattegories, Catch Phrase and plain old Charades are a blast with a good group. Not only is it fun, but it’s a great way to keep guests entertained. There are plenty of options that can be played when multiple age groups are involved. Hedbanz is one of our personal favorites to play when our youngest is included.

Bring the message of Advent home this holiday season. Celebrate Christmas as a family with a fun family game night.

Enjoy some time together with a few fun games and some delicious treats! It’s a great way to celebrate the coming of Christmas and the gift of family and friends.

*This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure statement here.

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10 Days of Advent: Day Seven

The kids have been out of school for all of four days so let’s take a survey. How many of you have kids who have already said “I’m bored” at least once?? In spite of all the excitement of Christmas coming, the reality is that there are a lot more hours in the day to fill when school’s out. My kids are in a stage of life where they’re having a hard time getting along. I can only play referee for so long before I’m a frazzled mess so craft time is a great way to keep everyone busy and happy.

Bring the message of Advent home this holiday season. Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas as a family.

Do a holiday craft together

One thing that I love about Christmas crafts is the pride our kids feel when they look at the decorations in our home. I love love love browsing all the beautiful Christmas home tours online and find great inspiration for my own decor. But amidst the styled shelves in our home, you’ll also find things made by our kiddos. It gives them a sense of ownership to see their hard work displayed alongside the rest of my carefully-chosen decor items.

Craft projects can be as complex or simple as time, supplies and interest allows. Here are some great options to try with your family this season.

Lego Ornaments 

If you’re house is anything like ours, legos can be found in any room at any given time. Why not put those little blocks to good use?! Sarah at Frugal Fun for Boys & Girls has instructions for several Christmas-themed lego projects so there’s a lot of possibility for your little master builders.

Celebrate Advent as a family by doing a Christmas craft together.

Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt dough is an easy project and the options are endless. You can leave them plain for a simple look or paint them to create more detail. This snowman ornament from Michelle at Crafty Morning would be great for my 8 year old, who gets really involved in her craft projects. My 5 year old would do better using cookie cutters to make the basic shape and adding detail with paint. *Just remember that salt dough needs to bake for 2-3 hours and cool before it can be decorated.

Celebrate Advent as a family with a fun Christmas craft.

Recycled Box Village

Most of us probably have plenty of boxes in our recycling bin, as well as wrapping paper laying around. Bettijo from Paging Supermom combines the two for a cute Christmas craft. Kids can decorate however they want and then set up their town for some pretend play. Get those lego figures involved and this could become a Christmasy Star Wars masterpiece 😉

Celebrate Advent as a family with a fun Christmas craft.

You can check out day one of the Advent series here and catch up on any days that you’ve missed. You can use or adapt the ideas based on what works best for your family.

What are your favorite crafts to do with your little ones during the holiday season??

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