“Did I spend too much time working?”
“Did they eat too many treats?”
“Did they enjoy our ‘staycation’ adventures?”
These are the thoughts that went through my head after my kids week of spring break a few weeks ago. And as I start to prepare for summer vacation, I am struggling to feel balanced between my own work time and the fun stuff I want to do with my family.
The source of these concerns???
Mommy Guilt. Argh.
I think mommy guilt comes up again and again for us in all sorts of different disguises.
I have written extensively about Mommy Guilt on my blog. Obviously it is a topic near and dear to my heart. You can read the full articles here, here, and here, but today I am just going to summarize my best Mommy Guilt Tips so you can get off the Mommy Guilt train and get back in the game being an awesome mom.
The 3 biggest ways I see Mommy Guilt Sabotage GREAT moms are:
- What I do for myself is selfish and takes away from my family.
- I’m not doing this right, everyone else has it figured out.
- If I were just more productive/organized/rested I’d have time to do everything I need to do.
Moms are hardwired to take care of our children, our families, and even our communities. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do it all, all the time. We feel responsible for everything from making sure the toilet paper is stocked to making sure global companies don’t contaminate our kids’ food! That is a lot to be responsible for.
The care of everyone else is a high priority to us moms. Therefore, it seems, doing anything else, like taking care of ourselves seems to be something that takes away from the first priority.
If you are spending time on anything else, by default, you must not be taking care of your family.
I believe that taking care of ourselves as mothers actually is a VERY important way we can take care of our families.
So. Lets create our own “Yeah, But” Clause
I find planning actually helps me derail Mommy Guilt. I call it the “Yeah, But Clause.” If you can look at your schedule for the day or for the week and see where you have time planned to focus on your family and time to focus on yourself, you can see the balance a bit more.
“I am going out with my girlfriends on Friday night. Yeah, but I am taking my kids to the zoo on Saturday.”
“I am going to let my son watch an extra cartoon, so I can finish a blog post. Yeah, but then we are going to put together the new legos he received for his birthday.”
The next stop on the Mommy Guilt train is Compairitis Land. You know, the place you go where you think everyone else is doing it better than you.
You think someone else has it all figured out or someone else is making better progress than you. (Like that perfectly sculpted mom in her Lulu’s leaving the gym…she has it figured out, right?)
I want to tell you that we ALL struggle with something.
Here are my top tips (that I tell myself over and over again) for getting over my own case of comparitis.
- Put on blinders– If you are having a day where you are not feeling successful or accomplished, take a social media break. Turn off Facebook, or don’t open the latest email newsletter. Focus on your progress. Take a few minutes to physically write down a big personal accomplishment (or a little one!)
Remind yourself that we all have our own struggles and successes and that social media is not an accurate picture of someone else’s life.
- Ask for help– Remember, it takes a village to raise a mom too.
- You’re doing it right– Sometimes doing a pirate puzzle trumps writing the next blog post. And sometimes the kids watch an extra cartoon so more work can get done. Both are ok.
The last stop on the Mommy Guilt train takes us to Disney princess land.
Remember how Cinderella’s stepmother told her she could go to the ball if she finished all her chores first? And then she piled an insurmountable amount of chores on her plate, ensuring she would not be able to get to the ball.
I think Mommy Guilt also plays the role of our wicked stepmother. She tells us, if we finish engaging our children in developmentally appropriate play, clean the house, finish the tasks for the preschool fundraiser, shop for organic food, and send adorable photos to the in-laws…then we can participate in our “thing.” But let’s face it, even with a scurry of mice to help us, we never get it all done or we are too tired after the fact to do anything else.
Wasn’t that the stepmother’s goal all along, not to actually say no, but make it impossible for Cinderella to get to the ball, and make it her own fault in the process.
Cinderella could have gone to the ball if only she would have worked harder, been smarter, or picked a different committee for the preschool fundraiser.
Mommy guilt leaves us feeling responsible and ‘bad’ for not taking care of ourselves along with everyone else.
Now, I am not saying we should not do those things above, every mother, of course, values her family’s health, happiness and wellbeing. What I am reminding you is that our “thing” has to have equal weight.
Mommy guilt never stops. And no matter how self aware you are, I think it always creeps back in, I know it does for me. But remembering these 3 techniques has really helped my when I am feeling unsure of the decisions I am making.
What is your best tip for derailing the Mommy Guilt Train?