Mom Guilt & Self-Care

By Gina McSheffrey-Emmons

Whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, we’ve all felt it—that sense of guilt that just comes with being a mom. You worry about your decisions and feel that everything you do is somehow going to negatively affect your kids. Why do we feel this way? As a mom, we want to take care of everyone and be there for everyone; therefore, we often put others’ needs ahead of our own. When we realize that we cannot do it all, we feel guilty for it, and with that guilt can come stress. Instead of feeling guilty, we should stop and tell ourselves that we are doing the best that we can with what we have and the situation that we are in. If we stop being hard on ourselves, start recognizing all the good we do in a day, and start making time for ourselves, we can begin shedding some of the “mom guilt.”

We’ve heard this time and time again, but it is like the airplane analogy where you are instructed to put your oxygen mask on during an emergency situation. You are supposed to put your mask on first before you put the mask on others (even your kids). The lesson is you have to help yourself first before you can help others. Here are some tips on how to take care of yourself so that you can be your best and continue your caretaking roles with less guilt and less stress.

Positive Reframing: try to put a positive spin on a negative thought or situation. For example, if you are feeling hard on yourself and embarrassed because your child had a tantrum in public, you can say to yourself, “Although it was a stressful experience, I was able to stay calm and get through it.”

Schedule “Me” Time: carve some time out during the day to do something that you enjoy (e.g., watching a favorite show, going for a walk, listening to a podcast).

Mindfulness: be cognizant of the now and notice what is around you in the moment. We lose sight of what is happening right in front of us when we let our minds wander in every direction instead of focusing on the here and now. Notice the little things and be present so you can enjoy and remember the moment.

Physical & Mental Health: be sure to eat a balanced diet and hydrate and find time to exercise or do something active even if only for a few minutes a day. Yoga and meditation can also help with relaxing your body and your mind.

Gratitude Journal: take time to reflect on your day and write down what you were thankful for and/or what made you happy that day. Thinking positively can help change your mood and reduce stress.

Being a mother is a great gift, but it comes with many challenges. By making sure we are taking care of ourselves, we can transform how we feel for the better. If we as moms are happy, then our kids will be happy too (and that is nothing to feel guilty about)!