How to Kick Mom Guilt to the Curb

Guilt
Image via Katie Hurley

You know that feeling you get when you try and you try, but you still feel like you come up short with your kids? Perhaps you feel like one child takes up more of your time than another, or maybe work pulls you away more than you would like. That feeling gets to of all us at times. That feeling is mom guilt.

All moms experience mom guilt at times. It's part of the job.

Sometimes I feel it when I know that I'm behind on my work and need to focus all of my attention there to meet deadlines. Other times, it creeps in when I feel like I'm spending more quality time with one than the other.

Mom guilt can leave us feeling anxious and isolated, and that only leads to the negative feelings that contribute to it in the first place! It can also result in sleepless nights and negative emotions, and it can impact relationships. When those negative emotions build up over time, you will find start to feel frustrated and angry. The result? Yelling, impatience, and more guilt. It's a cycle, and it's up to you to break it.

It's important to learn how to cope so that we can kick that guilt to the curb!

Stress at pregnant woman. Problems, sad, depression woman.
Image via iStock

Label it.

When coping with emotions, the first thing you need to do is label it. Where does the guilt stem from? What contributes to it? Why is it snowballing?

Take the time to evaluate how you're feeling each day. A simple feelings checklist that you might use with a child can also be beneficial for adults. Once you find the source of the guilt, you can find ways to decrease it. Stuffing emotions doesn't work, but working through them will free your soul.

{ MORE: 3 Reasons to Say 'No' to No }

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Image via Flickr/ chmeredith

Reframe it.

I've been working a lot lately. While I try to get most of my work done during school hours or when the babysitter is here, there are times when I need to take a conference call during “mommy time.” I feel the pull, and the guilt creeps in.

I find that reframing my thoughts and replacing a negative with a positive helps me remain centered and happy. Instead of thinking “I should have pushed harder to schedule this earlier,” I replace it with “Seeing me work will inspire them as they grow.”

Negative thoughts can drag you down, but positive reframing can open up new possibilities.

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Talk about it.

Mom guilt shouldn't be a secret. Why is that when we feel our worst we always want to hide out and disappear? When we feel our worst, we need our tribes!

You know who understands mom guilt? Other moms! Find your mom tribe and reach out when you're under stress. Chances are your friend knows exactly how you feel. A walk with a friend can be very therapeutic. Be honest. Seek support. No mom is an island.

Also? Talk about it with your kids. There's no rule stating that you have to gloss over the hard stuff every single day. Just the other day, while we sat around eating a snack, I said, “I feel like I've been so busy with work that I haven't been as focused at home. I'm really sorry about that. Can we talk about fun things we can do together now that I have a break?” We made a big list of fun things to do and talked about the fact that even moms have big feelings.

{ MORE: Living in an Era of Disrespect: Are We Raising Our Kids the Right Way? }

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Image via Flickr/ mpardo.photo

Carve out “me time.”

It's really hard to care for others when you struggle to care for you. Carve out time to take care of your own needs. This can feel like an extra task when every hour of the day seems to be accounted for, but if you break it down into moments here and there, you can find the time you need.

I like to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea in the afternoon. That gives me time to just check out. Other times, I read for a little while. We still do quiet time in my house because everyone needs time to decompress. Find your time. It helps.

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Image via Flickr/ chad_k

Schedule special time.

It's not the amount of time you spend playing that matters; it's the quality of the time spent together that makes a difference to the child. Schedule weekly special time dates. Turn off the electronics. Focus. Be together and enjoy each other.

When you build a strong bond with your child, there is less room for guilt. 

{ MORE: Setting Boundaries With Grandma and Grandpa }

Do you struggle with mom guilt often? 

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How to Kick Mom Guilt to the Curb

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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