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Losing the Weight of Mom Guilt

From the moment a woman decides to have a child, a million decisions come her way. Epidural vs. unmedicated. Open adoption vs. closed. Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding. Homeschool vs. public school. And, often, it seems like no matter what she chooses, someone will have something negative to say about it. Enter the dreaded mom guilt. As mothers, it sometimes feels as if our every move is being scrutinized and it can lead to a huge mental strain. So, what do we do about it? Let’s talk about a few ways to drop some weight – the weight of feeling mom guilt.

1) Block out the haters – if only it were as easy to block out the negativity surrounding motherhood as it is to block out UV rays using sunscreen. Having a few key phrases at your disposal can help to combat those in your life who feel the need to question your choices without taking up too much of your time and energy. “Thanks, but we are happy with the choices we’ve made for OUR child” or “I appreciate your advice, but it is not helpful” are a couple of examples of phrases that might shock any well-meaning family member or stranger who offer up “helpful” tips about your parenting.

2) Give yourself grace – the most important hater you need to block is yourself! When you feel yourself beginning to spiral into negative thoughts about your own motherhood, you can still utilize your key phrases. “I’m doing my best”, “I love my child and that’s enough”, or “I’m a good mom” might be mantras you adopt. Try writing them on colorful post-its and putting them around your house – on your mirror, above the changing table, on your fridge, on the steering wheel of your car – anywhere you might be berating yourself for the wonderful job you are doing as a mother.

3) Cherish every moment – not! One thing I’ve been told countless times is to “cherish every moment because it will be over before you know it!” Or, “You’ll miss these days!” This is NOT helpful to a mother who was up all night with a colicky baby, a mother covered in spit-up, a mother who had her third call from the school in one day because of her child’s behavioral issues, or a mother worried about the choices her teenager is making. You don’t have to cherish every moment! Some of the moments of motherhood aren’t fun at all and that is okay! It doesn’t mean you love your child any less if you don’t love every moment of being a mom.

4) Comparison is the thief of joy – this quote by Theodore Roosevelt was likely not meant to be applied to motherhood, but it certainly works here. Mothers find a million ways to compare ourselves to other mothers. Social media tells us everyone else is winning while we are failing. Seeing the other kids at daycare with bows that match their ruffle pants makes us cringe at our own kid in mismatched shoes and Cheeto dust on their t-shirt. Even the doctor compares our child’s weight and height to a chart of other children! Remember, if your children are safe you are doing just fine, Mama! That mom on Instagram who threw her child a picture-perfect 1st birthday party still has goldfish crackers crushed up in her minivan seats, I guarantee.

5) Self-care isn’t selfish – it’s crucial! It is hard to show up for our kids when we have lost ourselves in being a parent. When I say self-care, I don’t mean bubble baths and chamomile tea, though those things can be lovely. I mean truly finding ways to fill your cup at the end of a long day of mothering. In the same way, you make time to take care of the things your family needs, you must make time to take care of your own mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. Go for a daily walk and be mindful of the way the breeze feels and the way the grass smells. Eat good foods and move your body. Get as much sleep as you can! (Easier said than done with a little one at home…) Engage in a creative activity. Go to therapy! But most importantly, don’t further your mom guilt by feeling bad for not being able to do all the things you used to do or for having let your self-care routine fall to the wayside for a while. Refer to number two and give yourself grace.

At the end of the day, motherhood is a journey we are on together though it can feel so very lonely. Just know, you’re doing great, mama. There’s no better mom for your kids than YOU

-Emily Rhoads, MS


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