Mom guilt is pervasive in modern motherhood. But guess what? It doesn’t have to be! I promise.
Hear me out. As a mom, certified coach, and someone who has helped thousands of women overcome mom guilt, I’m here to tell you there is a better way.
Mom Guilt Is Not Inherent In Motherhood
First and foremost, it’s important to understand what mom guilt is. To do that, you need to know what mom guilt is not.
Mom guilt isn’t something we’re “born with” that’s naturally biological. It’s something we’re taught to have by modern, societal norms.
Without boring you with a complete history of how we got here, I’ll just say that it was only a few hundred years ago where moms didn’t experience mom guilt at all. Mom guilt was not a thing until modern times. Kids back then weren’t supervised the way they are today. The typical family had seven children. Kids often died because of being unsupervised and due to the types of labor they were tasked with to help the family run.
Can you imagine giving an eight year old the task of fetching water from big wells or leaving them unattended with guns? That was part of the norm in the 1600s.
I point this out simply to illustrate that “mom guilt” is a modern way of life. It’s not inherent in being a mom. It’s inherent in the way we mom in today’s world. (This was hugely powerful for me to understand personally, as it helped me see that there is a way out of this.)
Ways To Let Go Of Mom Guilt
Since you’re living in the modern world and mom guilt IS a very real thing, what can you do about it? After coaching thousands of women on this topic, I have seven core ways you can let go of mom guilt. Here’s a look.
1. Become aware of your thoughts causing the mom guilt.
While societal norms give us the default thoughts that create mom guilt, it’s still always our thoughts that create our feelings. Said differently, the feeling of mom guilt is created by what you think. On default, you’ll think a thought like “I’m failing as a mom” and then feel guilty. While you can’t change what other people tell you or what they think, you can change the way you think, which is all you need to reduce mom guilt.
By becoming aware of the specific thoughts that fuel guilt, you can start challenging and reframing them. Ask yourself if these thoughts are based on realistic expectations or societal pressures. This self-awareness allows you to take control and actively choose thoughts that are more empowering and supportive.
2. Don’t judge or shame yourself.
It’s common as moms to be our own harshest critics, constantly comparing to unrealistic standards or feeling inadequate. However, practicing self-judgment and self-shaming only perpetuates the cycle of guilt. Instead, embrace self-compassion and kindness. Remind yourself that you’re doing your best as a mother, and acknowledge that no one is perfect. Treat yourself with the same love and understanding that you would offer to a friend facing similar challenges. Cultivating self-compassion allows you to approach motherhood with greater acceptance and a more positive mindset.
- Why Self Compassion Is Important To Being A Happy Mom (blog post)
- Self Compassion (podcast)
- Podcast Directory (free download)
3. Decide on purpose if you want to feel mom guilt.
Realize that guilt is not an inherent part of being a mother; it is a choice. This isn’t at all meant to be an invitation to beat yourself up for feeling mom guilt. You’ve been taught to think this way your whole life as a part of modern motherhood which tells moms to do “everything for everyone always.” Knowing this, though, you can decide on purpose to change it.
Take a step back and intentionally decide whether you want to hold onto mom guilt or let it go. Recognize that guilt often arises from external expectations or societal pressures that may not align with your values or the realities of your life. By consciously choosing whether or not to embrace mom guilt, you reclaim your power and can align your emotions with what truly serves you and your family.
I’ve coached women with one child who feel enormous mom guilt and other women with four and five kids who don’t feel mom guilt at all. The difference is in their thoughts about themselves and motherhood. It’s up to you, my friend! You can overcome mom guilt.
4. Process your feelings of mom guilt.
When mom guilt arises, it’s important to give yourself permission to feel and process these emotions. Suppressing or ignoring them may only intensify the guilt. Allow yourself the space to acknowledge and explore these feelings without judgment. Journaling can be a helpful tool for expressing your thoughts and emotions, as well as gaining insights into their underlying causes. Additionally, seeking support from a trusted friend, family member, or therapist can provide a safe and non-judgmental environment to discuss and process your mom guilt.
5. Create better feeling thoughts.
Negative thoughts are often at the root of mom guilt. Once you’ve identified these negative thought patterns, work on replacing them with positive and supportive ones. Focus on your strengths as a mother, your love for your children, and the effort you put into nurturing them. Remind yourself of the joyous moments, the milestones you’ve celebrated, and the love and care you provide each day. By consciously choosing uplifting thoughts and intentionally redirecting your attention to positive aspects of motherhood, you can shift your mindset and reduce guilt.
6. Practice your intentional thoughts.
Consistency is key when it comes to reshaping your thoughts and beliefs. Practice affirmations and positive self-talk regularly. Create a list of affirmations that reflect your values as a mother and the qualities you possess. Repeat them daily, internalize them, and believe in them. Celebrate your successes, both big and small, and give yourself credit for the dedication and love you pour into your children’s lives. Over time, intentional thoughts become ingrained in your mindset, fostering a more positive self-perception and reducing the impact of mom guilt.
7. Get accountability from a supportive community.
Motherhood can sometimes feel isolating, especially when facing mom guilt. Seek out a supportive community of like-minded individuals who understand the challenges and emotional struggles that come with being a mother.
In Grow You, you can find validation and reassurance that you’re not alone in experiencing mom guilt. You’ll hear different perspectives, get practical advice, and a listening ear when you need it most. Engaging in open and honest conversations about mom guilt allows you to release feelings of shame and replace them with a sense of camaraderie and support.
A Final Note
Mom guilt is part of our modern lives, but it doesn’t have to be in the driver’s seat. Through creating thoughts on purpose, learning how to process your feelings, and getting the accountability you deserve, mom guilt can be in the back seat, where it has much less of an impact. You got this, my friend.