The 3 Step Secret Weapon Against Mommy Guilt

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Mom guilt is universal. And 95% of the time, the things we feel guilty about aren’t even things that are particularly important to us. But since it’s a “good idea” we add it to the heavy weight of guilt we carry around.

For example:

  • It’s a good idea to clean my baseboards weekly.
  • It’s a good idea to wash, fold and put away your laundry each day.
  • It’s a good idea to drink 8 glasses of water a day.
  • Its a good idea to eat all organic food.
  • Its a good idea to get 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • It’s a good idea to only let your kids watch 30 minutes of tv a day.
  • It’s a good idea to make your own bread.
  • It’s a good idea to study your Bible every day for an hour.
  • It’s a good idea to sit ergonomically correct *every* time you use your computer.
  • It’s a good idea to build a bomb shelter in your backyard.

They’re all technically good ideas. But if we acted on every “good idea” we’d ever heard, we’d go insane.

And yet we’re making ourselves go insane by NOT acting on those ideas.

The Secret Weapon?

Let me ask you a question: When you go on vacation you don’t pack up your whole house, right? If you did that, you’d never go on vacation. Too much work.

Instead, you choose the most important things and pack them in a small bag.

Thats what we need to do with guilt. We don’t have to carry the whole house with us. Its overwhelming.

The 3 Steps

1. Pick – Pick one area of Motherhood to work on.
2. Plan – Make a plan to work on it. Set a timeline.
3. Move on – When you’ve reached your goal, pick something else.

As much as we want to be superwomen, the reality is that we are not. We are mere mortals who can only do one thing at a time.

To carry the weight of the world is both pointless and paralyzing. Lay it down, my friends. Pick up your one thing and discover how fast you can run, when you run guilt free.

What is the one thing you want to focus on now? OR What is one thing you need to lay down? Click here to join the discussion.

Comments

  1. Currently I am working on Patience. Oh help me Lord do I need to find my patience.
    I lost it somewhere between child 1 and child 2 y’know….
    Anyway, I’m pretty sure with the help of God, I can find that laid back, rolling it off my back, gal that I was pre-children…
    Prrrretty sure…

    :)

    This is a great post. And so true. There are so many things that ‘need’ doing in my house. I just need to find the patience to deal with it all. hehe

    I’ve even left a little spot on my prayer cards to write in ‘patience’ so that I am reminded each time I pray or work on verse memory (they are available on my blog for anyone interested).

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Penny,
      Ah, patience…I think that’s one we’re all working on. I feel I lose a bit of it between each child too!

  2. This is a great post, but I admit – the first one, cleaning my baseboards once a week, made me laugh out loud. I feel glowingly good about doing that twice a year! I can’t imagine feeling guilty about not doing that once a week. But, I certainly carry around guilt about many other things. One that I’m working on giving up this Lent – yelling at my kids. They are the only people in this world that I yell at, and that isn’t fair. It’s not just the frustrated yelling (that happens), it is more the “hurry up we are going to be late” hollering that happens, or the way my voice gets super loud simply to be heard over their wrestling match. Yelling is convenient in the moment, but it never helps the end game. So, that is what I’m working on now. The baseboards are definitely at the bottom of the list :)

    • Courtney,
      Well, that made me feel better. I think I must have really clean friends. I remember calling a friend just after I’d gotten married and asked her what she was up to that day. She said she was cleaning the baseboards. I can honestly say that in my year of marriage and taking care of a home, it had NEVER occurred to me.

  3. Right now I’m working on getting my spiritual practice (prayer, reading etc) in order. Everything else in motherhood land comes so much easier when I’m right and regular with God. Its also the most challenging aspect of my life to maintain being in motherhood land and all!

    • Keya,
      “Everything else in motherhood land comes so much easier when I’m right and regular with God.”

      So well said, and so very true!

  4. Mary Lynn says:

    I am trying to incorporate exercise into my day. It is the one thing I need to do for myself daily so that I feel better, have more energy and I am told will help with mental energy as well. Boy, do I need that as each year gets more and more challenging as a mom! No more mommy guilt that I don’t make and do every cute holiday craft and activity.

  5. Melissa Q says:

    Great photo, Kat. Cracked me up!

    • Melissa,
      Thank you for saying that! I thought it was so hilarious, not sure if others would get it, though.

  6. Amber Dalton says:

    Earlier this week I picked up one good habit that involved me dropping another good habit. I decided that it was important for me to keep a clean house. The main reason for this is that if my house is clean I am noticeably happier. When my house is messy I am depressed and stressed out thinking about everything I should do while doing none of it. However, I am a stay at home mother of three very interactive children and have only an hour to myself during the day. I had to give up two hours of sleep so I could get my cleaning done at night. This dropped my sleep count from 9 wonderful hours to 7 (which isn’t bad). Though I have to say, I haven’t even considered cleaning my baseboards. I thought you only did that when you were trying to sell your house :)

    • Amber,
      It’ so great that you know what impacts your attitude and outlook. I’m sort of the same way. I feel so much better when at least my kitchen counters are neat and tidy – so that would be about 30 minutes a day. :)

  7. I want each of those to happen tomorrow! I’m impatient and very hard on myself. I appreciate your post! It came at a great time. It is coming towards the end of Lent when I feel as though it is time to take up a new challenge. I always take on 4-5 and am very disappointed when I can’t keep up. Thank you for helping me realize the guilt and the reason why it doesn’t work.

  8. I love this! I’ve done something similar by choosing one area to focus on each month – something I want to learn more about, improve, etc. It has helped a lot in making some permanent changes. Example – last month was water, this month is adding more greens to my diet (and my families diet).

  9. I am working on being organized. And organizing. I have never lived anywhere more than 5 years. May will mark the 5th year in Michigan. Moving, it naturally declutters and reorganizes your home. But it’s time. I’ve ignored it for too long and when it piles up, I feel overwhelmed and do not act. One bit at a time.

    • Laura,
      If you haven’t already read SimpleMom’s (Tsh Oxenreider – simplemom.net) book, Organized Simplicity, you might check it out. She’s moved a lot too and has lots of great ideas.

  10. i don’t know why i feel guilty, but my 19 year old is out of the house, going to college yet she still fines a way to make life impossible. then comes the disappointment, anger, frustration kinda all rolled into one. when i know that its her life and i should just let it go and let her make the decisions whether i believe in them or not.

    • Annie,
      That must be very difficult. Praying for her can make all the difference, though it must be so hard to “step back” from the daily interaction you’re accustomed to.

  11. Whew! Thanks. I was about to get started on that bomb shelter.

    I think this goes along with your other post about Pinterest. Good, or even great, ideas, but we can’t do all of it.

  12. Kat, I swear you live inside my head. Just yesterday my husband had the misfortune of helping me at the grocery store. And I let him peek inside the insanity that is my decision making process when I go shopping. The organic thing really weighs heavily on me. I absolutely believe that what you eat effects your life in long-term ways. However, we are on such a tight budget right now organic just isn’t possible. And then I do feel pressure to exercise, make my own bread (and granola), never turn on the tv, etc. Plus I have a 4 wee old newborn! How do you pick one area? How do you prioritize all that? Maybe I should just prioritize sleep – but you can’t really do that with a 21 month old and 4 week old. They kind of make that decision for you. Ugh – it’s murder living in my head!

    • Amy,
      Oh, I feel your shopping woe. That’s why I only shop WITH my kids. They force me to get in and get out. No evaluating or excessive label checking. I take forever when I go alone!

      Whenever things are overwhelming like that, I always start with sleep and time with God. That might just be listening to an AudioBible (YouVersion has a free one on the iPhone) or there might be others online. Or listening to worship music. I find that my time with God helps direct me to the next thing I need to do.

      • Kari Coppinger says:

        Sleep and God. That caught my eye as a good place to be starting and building from.

        FYI, I just realized you can listen to AudioBibles on YouVersion for Android also.

  13. Natasha d says:

    I am trying really hard (as I am reading Mission to Motherhood) to put my children first during the day. When I really want to finish the task I am doing but my 4 year old wants my attention — I want the patience to deal correctly with my child and put down my “task” and put my time into this little life. I am really paying attention to this, this week!

    • Natasha,
      Great goal! I’m also a task oriented person and it’s a challenge for me to “put down my task” – thank you for the reminder!

  14. Rebecca says:

    I am right there with Amy. SO many areas NEED my attention. At the top of the list? There’s consistent time solo with God (I’m just aiming for about 15 minutes). There’s keeping up with the piles (i.e. papers, laundry, projects, dishes). I feel like the piles REEEALLY bother my husband even though he’s pretty good not to mention them, and I know they eat away at me. Then there’s the ever-pressing patience issue. I feel like I never get through a day without yelling at the children. Don’t forget the homeschooling, helping the children (5 children, ages 2-9) delve into projects that interest them, spending fun time with the children, moving forward in home improvement projects, visiting elderly relatives, being a helper to my husband, starting that new business, staying within our budget, and good ol’ relaxing time. Huh? What’s that? I appreciate that you addressed the issue, but I feel like either “one thing at a time” is just not practical or my mommy guilt is of the platinum variety. :o)

    • Rebecca,
      That’s DEFINITELY a lot on your plate. I think the idea of “one thing at a time” is regarding our focus. We can’t always lay down the other things, but we can let them just go along as they have been until we get one area under control, then we move our focus to the next thing.

      I played tennis in school. For the entire first week of practice, we never even stepped on the tennis court. Sure, we had tournaments coming up and competition to face, but my coach knew that our success was entirely dependent upon our foundation.

      He could throw us on the court and we could flounder in every area, but instead we spent DAYS just practicing our swing. Then we learned to watch the ball. Then we learned to actually hit the ball. Then we learned to move our feet.

      In just 3 years, he turned a bunch of rag tag kids who had never taken lessons into real tennis players who would go on to play in college. I think it was all because he set such a strong foundation for us.

      So that’s a REALLY long story, but I think that unless we learn what affects us and impacts us the most – and then strengthen those areas, we’ll just continue to flounder. That might mean letting go of other areas. That might mean making hard decisions, but for me, at least it has been vital to my well being.

      These are just some thoughts that have been floating around my head as I was originally writing this post. Hence my novel of a reply! :)

      • Rebecca says:

        OK, that makes more sense to me. Thank you for the clarification. I feel like I’ve always struggled with balance (and probably focus, too). Keeping so busy that I just go from “urgent” to “urgent” is a problem. I need to tell myself what ONE thing I’m focusing on improving and stick to it. I don’t feel very confident in the matter, but at least it makes sense now. Thanks!

  15. Kirsten says:

    This is so good! I love your blog always, because the simplicity gives me a rest from my busy brain!! This is so right on for what I need- pick ONE thing that I feel God leading me to, not try and just do everything. Why am I so tempted to do that when it never works? Anyway- my one thing at the moment is to “think about what I’m thinking about” at times when I am in my car, washing dishes…basically anytime I’m not talking to and interacting with my kids during the day. I am in the very bad habit of letting my mind go wherever it pleases. SO much energy wasted there! And He wants to renew this mind, and retrain this brain. I’m excited to see what He has in store.

  16. I’m with Courtney on the yelling thing and not using sarcasm on my 4 year old. He doesn’t get it anyway.

  17. I want to come up with one new fun activity for my toddler and I to do together each day. She is fantastic about playing on her own, but, I need to be more intentional at playing WITH her. My husband? He is great at this. Me? I need to work on it.

    • Hi, Sharon! I’ve been going through the same thing with mine. Now that we have two kids, time is divided again between them, my husband, my “chores” and anything else that the day brings! I’ve found it helpful to steal a few minutes here and there. Little kids love to hear us make up songs about folding socks, or to crawl with us on the floor looking for “treasure” (aka dust bunnies and couch change). They love hugs and eye contact, which doesn’t take long (since they won’t sit still for more than a few seconds anyway) and means so much for both of us! I’m learning they just like to be with us and do what we’re doing :)

  18. I love what you ladies have to say! Amber and Rebecca, I hear ya. I tend to see ALL of the things I should do and even NEED to do as immediate needs. In a moment of panic I’ll try to conquer it all and set up a super game plan for the future…we all know how that ends :) Kat, great responses to these two comments in particular. It is so important to know what impacts you and to use that to help build a strong foundation! There’s so much more joy in moving forward when you know where you’re coming from! Great stuff!

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