31 Jul The Dust Settles and the Reality of Mom Guilt Kicks In: Managing Feelings of Mom Guilt from the Mom of Two
There’s guilt…the feeling that you are doing something wrong or doing something you shouldn’t be. And then there’s Mom guilt… regular guilt plus various feelings that you’re falling short of expectations or not living up to said expectations…
Who puts these expectations on us? Your friends? Social media? Society? Maybe. But two kids later, I’ve learned…more than anyone or anything, it’s us…us Moms put this feeling of guilt on ourselves.
I had Mom guilt with my first… natural or medicated birth? Breastfeed or formula feed? Back to work or stay home longer? And I’m sure you can think of many other guilt-full feelings that come with being a first-time Mom.
Two kids later, Mom guilt doesn’t go away. If anything, I’ve learned that Mom guilt only amplifies that much more as a Mom of two. And that guilt, while similar, is completely different now.
Guilt of feeding baby while toddler plays alone
Guilt of toddler having too much screen time as I tend to baby
Guilt of toddler having too much junk food because it’s quick and easy
Guilt of having baby sleep in crib sooner than first-born ever did
Guilt of shushing toddler for making noise while baby sleeps
Guilt of baby crying more than his brother ever did because I’m juggling the toddler
Guilt of toddler screaming a fit while I’m juggling the baby
Guilt that baby is the root of the toddler tantrums
Guilt that I rocked toddler’s world by having another baby
Guilt that my toddler is no longer my baby
Guilt of taking one with me while leaving the other behind at home
Guilt of leaving two at home
Guilt because I actually want and need some alone time but I’m scared to admit it and to say it out loud
And I am sure you can all contribute so much more to this list, but these are some of the ones at the forefront of my small time as a Mom of two.
I’m learning that while these feeling are so real, it is important to remember our babies need us to manage these feelings of Mom guilt, because it can eat away at us until we feel completely defeated.
When I find myself spinning into that uncontrollable stress of Mom guilt, I need a way out. In these last two months, I have learned some small, but big, things that have helped immensely. And I’d like to share those with you today…
Make Time for Self-Care
Not everyone’s definition of self-care is the same. For me, self-care means taking 30 minutes a day to exercise in some way. Exercise is a form of escape for me; it always has been, even before kids.
Health benefits aside, exercise helps release those endorphins that help rid of the stress in the body. Did you know that endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Additionally, endorphins also diminish the feeling of pain in the body.
Find your self-care, whether it’s exercise, meditating, reading, fixing your hair and makeup… find your escape. And don’t feel guilty about it.
Ask for Help… and Accept Help When It’s Offered
Often times, we as Moms feel like we need to be SuperMom, cape and all, and do everything ourselves. And some Moms may not have a choice but to do it all. But if you have family or friends willing and able to help, don’t be afraid to ask! I have learned that while my husband’s way of folding towels may not be the same as mine, the towels are folded and put away in the cabinet, and guess what? The towels still dry the same whether they are folded my way or his!
Additionally, don’t turn down help when it’s offered. When someone offers to help, they likely aren’t just offering to be nice; they want to help, because they’ve likely been where you are…and let’s be real, this Motherhood gig is hard! Whether they offer to hold your baby for 15 minutes while you take a shower, or offer to grab you a few groceries on the way to your house, accept the help! You can still be an amazing Mom while asking for and accepting help! And don’t feel bad about it!
Have Individual Time with Each Child
One great part about being a Sleep Consultant is that I can predict my kiddo’s sleep patterns (mostly with the newborn anyways). And this allows for 1:1 time with each kiddo.
My newborn sleeps a lot; let’s be real about that, so that allows for lots of 1:1 time with my toddler, which is so desperately needed. Most of his tantrums, I have no doubt, are just attention-seeking behaviors; so this 1:1 time really helps cut down on the tantrums and cuts down on my Mom Guilt about “replacing” my baby. So, this is a win/win.
And every day, I know exactly when my toddler naps. So that gives me some 1:1 time with my second-born, because as most moms of two know, it feels like that second-born gets the short end of the stick sometimes.
More one-on-one child and parent time typically happens on the weekends, as we divide and conquer. Saturdays, .my husband typically takes our toddler out for a Daddy date and I stay home with the baby; and Sundays, I take the toddler out and about while Daddy stays home with the baby.
Put down the phone
In this day and age, our phone is attached to us like our right arm. I make a genuine effort to put down my phone when spending time with my toddler as well as my newborn. It’s so easy to have our phone nearby and scroll through social media while playing Legos or while giving the baby a bottle.
Technology is the way of the future, I can’t argue with that, we are constantly seeing further advances and it should be part of children’s lives. But, if it’s at the expense of spending time together as a family, it might be time to evaluate and assess your phone usage.
Get Some Sleep
This above all else! Sleep deprivation is real and can lead to so many feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, and guilt. And I can provide you with oodles of research to support this! But that’s not the point of this! It’s amazing how I feel after a solid night’s sleep, which is hard to come by these days with a newborn. But getting some sleep can really help alleviate some of the negative feelings associated with motherhood.
Mom guilt can actually serve as a powerful tool – as long as you don’t take it too far. Be in control of your guilt; don’t’ let your guilt control you. We need to be at our best to take care of those we love the most. And if we are constantly feeling guilty about every decision we make, that is not our best.
Having some amount of guilt proves you care and that you are in fact a great Mom. If you didn’t have Mom guilt, that means you wouldn’t care that your kid watches too much TV or eats too much junk or that your baby is crying…
Take charge of your Mom guilt and be the best you can be. Mom guilt will come and go and will never end, even as our kids grow. But for now, take it one day at a time, every day is a new day! You’re doing a great job, Mama!
**If you find your feelings of Mom guilt are more than you can bear, please don’t’ be afraid or ashamed to reach out for further help and support. There are plenty of resources for those struggling beyond the usual stressors of motherhood.