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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Making Memories – It’s the Thought that Counts

With summer coming on like a freight train, I’m already in planning mode. Summer offers the opportunity to slow down and maybe inject something special into our normal routine. I want my kids to look back on fond memories of their childhood, but sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to provide meaningful experiences.

Don't let your own expectations get in the way of making authentic memories with your family.

When I was 9 or 10, my best friend and I went to see Tiffany in concert with our dads. If you don’t remember Tiffany, just imagine Miley Cyrus before she got weird, add some big hair and acid-washed denim, and you’ve got the idea. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the performance.

I remember my mom taking the time to crimp our hair before the show.

I remember my dad being willing to go to a concert he most certainly didn’t enjoy just so that I could have the experience.

My memory isn’t of the concert itself, but of the gestures that made it special.

Letting go of The Self-Imposed Standard

We are so saturated by social media, it’s easy to believe there’s no point in doing something if it can’t live up to the standard we’ve envisioned. We’re drowning in inspiration and surrounded by the creativity of others. It’s wonderful and exhausting at the same time.

Every time we host a holiday meal, I have ideas about how I’ll set our table. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with gathering inspiration from Pinterest, home decor blogs and magazines. Trust me, I looove Pinterest. The problem arises when my 9 year old daughter wants to make the place cards.

I have two options at this point. I can embrace her creativity and include her in the fun of hosting OR I can shut her down in favor of an option that will probably be more blog-worthy. My husband once wisely said, “Someday she’s not going to be living in our house and you can decorate however you want, but for now, let her be involved while she still wants to be.” Boom. Mic drop.

The truth is that more likely than not, there will come a time when my industrious little creator might not have any interest in helping make our table look special. Why would I want to hold her back rather than savor this time? I can’t think of a single person in my life who would criticize my table because of handmade place cards.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t Instagram or blog your beautiful table setting. I mean, that would be ridiculously hypocritical. But don’t let the real moments of joy and beauty pass you by because of an unnecessary (or even unattainable) standard.

Recognizing the Kairos Moments

In her well-known essay “Don’t Carpe Diem,” author Glennon Doyle Melton writes the following, “Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. Kairos is those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day, and I cherish them… And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.”

A few years back, my husband got some free tickets to an Angels game. We were so excited to take our kids to a baseball game and share the experience with them. I’m sure the game was fun, but what I really remember is my son letting loose the most horrendous diaper explosion ever on our way into the parking lot. No, cleaning him up was not a magical kairos type of moment. But laughing with my husband about the situation on the way home definitely was!

Seeing the pride on my daughter’s face as she directs our guests to look for their names on her carefully hand-drawn place cards… definitely a kairos moment.

As I plan out the fun things I want to do with our kiddos this summer, I want to be careful to reign in my own expectations. Instead of worrying about mapping out memories, I want to make time for the story to unfold on its own. After all, the most memorable moments of my life weren’t carefully orchestrated, but they happened anyway.

 

{Linking up to Thoughtful Thursdays, Salt & Light}

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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 Five

The days are going by quickly now (obviously too quickly since I’m posting so late!) I don’t know about your house, but the anticipation seems to be growing by the hour. You can go back to day one to read about why I’m sharing ten days of Advent ideas, as well as catch up on any days you missed. It’s all about focusing on the reason for the season and spending time together with our loved ones during the holidays.

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

While most of us are enjoying the holidays with our family members, there are countless others giving up their day. Fire fighters, police officers, nurses & doctors, and EMTs are all working on the holidays to make sure the rest of us are safe. This season, let’s take time to say thank you.

Thank a civil servant

It takes hardly any time to drop off some cookies or brownies at your local fire or police station, but what a nice way to show our appreciation to those who help to keep us safe each day. If your budget is extra tight this Christmas, a handmade card is an equally nice way to say thanks. You could bring some holiday treats to your local ER, or even just send a note of gratitude to someone you know will be giving up their holiday.

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