Do you struggle with mom guilt?
(Hint: We ALL do!)
Here’s why it could be a good thing.
A few years ago, I wrote a post called “Why You Should Ditch the Mom Guilt.”
I wrote that post because I’m a firm believer that moms are often too hard on themselves.
So why am I now writing a post about how mom guilt can be a good thing?
Because, in my opinion, there are two different types of mom guilt.
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The Two Types of Mom Guilt
Let me explain what I mean by two types of mom guilt.
At my church, our pastor calls one type of guilt “big G” guilt and the other type “little g” guilt.
Here’s the difference:
When you experience “big G” guilt, you’re paralyzed. You’re filled with shame, believing that you’re a failure and can never do anything right.
With “little g” guilt, you recognize that there’s something you should be doing better. You feel guilty about it, but not paralyzed. Instead, the guilt pushes you toward change.
How the Two Types of Guilt Relate to “Mom Guilt”
As a mom, “big G” guilt means that you think you’re constantly screwing up. You question every decision you make and you wonder if your kids will be forever scarred by your incompetence.
As a mom with “little g” guilt, you identify an area of parenting that you could improve on.
For example, you might feel guilty at the end of the day because you spent so much time on social media rather than being present with your family. Or maybe you feel guilty that you lost your temper when you were running late and your child couldn’t find their shoes.
This is the type of mom guilt that can be a good thing.
This type of mom guilt pushes you to apologize when you’ve done something wrong and to try to do better the next day.
This is the kind of mom guilt that can bring positive change.
This is the kind of mom guilt that will push you to be the best mom possible.
This is the kind of mom guilt (conviction, if you will) that we all need at times. Because, let’s face it, we all have room to improve.
What You Shouldn’t Do
Mama— I am NOT saying that you should beat yourself up every darn day.
I am not saying you should feel terrible about every little thing you do wrong.
I am not saying that you should let mom guilt rule your life.
I do not believe that you should be racked with guilt day in and day out.
Mom Guilt Can Be An Opportunity
What I am saying is that mom guilt can be an opportunity.
It’s an opportunity to recognize the areas of mothering that you wish you could change and allow you to make shifts.
So, let’s look at an example—
Let’s say you’re feeling guilty that you yelled at your kids this morning. First, I’d recommend identifying what triggered your anger.
Was it because you were trying to rush out the door and no one was cooperating?
OK, so maybe you need to try giving yourself an extra 15 minutes tomorrow and see if things go more smoothly.
Were you triggered because you had to repeat yourself over and over before your kids would listen?
Try talking to them about this when they get home from school or before bed.
I usually go with something like this:
“Girls, I am sorry I yelled at you this morning. I don’t like yelling. I got very frustrated because I was telling you to put on your shoes over and over and you didn’t listen to me until I raised my voice.
Can you do your best to listen to me the first time I tell you tomorrow?”
(These kinds of conversations always go better when strong emotions have had a chance to recede. No one can be logical with they are in a fog of anger, sadness, or frustration.)
The point is this: Mom guilt (little “g”) in this situation provided an opportunity for you (all of us) to examine our actions, as well as the emotions that trigger them. That reflection allows you (us) to grow as a person and as a mother.
It’s OK to let this kind of mom guilt guide you in areas you want to be better.
When Mom Guilt Traps You
Of course, mom Guilt (big “G”) can also be a terrible thing.
If you feel guilty about things that you can’t change— that is not helpful. This type of guilt is destructive. This is the type of guilt that you must learn to let go of.
If you’re a working mom and feel guilty about being away so much, that kind of guilt isn’t benefiting anyone, is it?
There is a possibility that this type of mom guilt will lead you to change career paths (it did for me).
But if this guilt, consumes your thoughts, keeps you up at night, or steals joyous moments, then it’s not healthy.
There are a million things you might feel guilty about as a mom that are not healthy. Here are some examples:
- You don’t enjoy playing with your kids like you think you should.
- You couldn’t breastfeed or chose not to.
- You have a new baby who is taking attention away from your older children.
- You can’t afford the newest gadget or trips to Disney World.
- You don’t have family in the area.
I could go on and on…
The point here is that mom guilt is NOT helpful if it’s regarding things you can’t change or stealing your joy.
How Do We Overcome Mom Guilt?
If you’re feeling the “good” kind of mom guilt (the one that pushes you to be better), then overcoming it means changing something for the better. Address the issue at hand.
For example, if you’re feeling guilty that you spent the whole day working and didn’t spend time with your kids, be sure to make family time a priority the next day.
Should you torture yourself about the missed opportunities of today? No.
But should you let the “mom guilt” push you to do better tomorrow? I vote YES!
Overcoming the “Bad” Mom Guilt
If you’re feeling trapped by the bad kind of mom guilt, here are some tips to overcome it:
- Stop comparing yourself to other moms
- Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself and your parenting
- Practice recognizing the negative voice for what it is
- Talk it out with your spouse or a close friend
- Join a local moms group and share your feelings (you’ll realize quickly that you aren’t alone)
- Journal about your feelings
- Pray about it
- Ask for forgiveness when you do something wrong
Check out this related post: 10 Habits That Keep Me Well and Balanced as a Mom
One Final Thought on Mom Guilt
If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, then you know that I truly believe that taking care of ourselves as mothers is critical.
Please, don’t guilty about taking care of yourself.
If you do, remember this:
Your kids deserve you at your best. You can’t be your best if you aren’t taking care of YOU.
As a work-at-home mom, for me, self-care often looks like:
- Prioritizing my nutrition and exercise
- Taking time to read alone daily
- Getting full nights of sleep
- Spending time with my husband and friends
- Planning occasional “lazy days” where we all stay home
These habits keep me balanced and allow me to bring my “best” mom-game every single day.
I challenge you to find out what it takes for you to feel your best.
Once you know the type of self-care you need to feel your best, prioritize it.
Trust me, if you’re running on fumes, you’re going to miss out on many of the wonderful joys of motherhood.
Make your own self-care a priority so you can feel what it’s like to thrive.
And, please, never ever feel guilty about it.
For more encouragement, check out some of my other posts on motherhood:
- “What I Wish I Knew Then” (Advice From Moms of Grown Children)
- How To Be a More Present Mom
- 10 Inspirational Quotes That Will Change The Way You Think About Motherhood
- To the Mom Who Feels Like a Hot Mess
If you’re seeking more wellness and balance in your life, check out my FREE 5-day life coaching course “Finding Wellness and Balance as a Mom!” You can sign up here.
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