5 Tips for Dealing with Mommy Guilt

By April 3, 2013General

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Note from Kat: This is a post from monthly contributor Liz Griffin. (Don’t miss her post from last month Naps can Change the World.)

I’ll never forget the conversation that abruptly ended my otherwise blissful pregnancy.

I was chatting with another pregnant lady at a park and we were discussing all things baby. She started telling me about how she was going to give birth at home. She then let me know she thought a good mom woman would not give birth in a toxic and chemically filled hospital.

This was my introduction to mom guilt.

The months to follow held conversations about nursing and immunizations. Family beds vs. cry it out methods. To work or not to work. What kind of schooling choices were we going to make? I hadn’t even had the baby yet…

I am not sure what your experience with guilt has been in your journey of motherhood, but we have all felt it from time to time. It is this deep dread that we are screwing up terribly.

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Mom Guilt Hot Spots

For my group of friends, these are some pretty common areas we feel mom guilt:

  • Homeschool vs. public vs. private school
  • Discipline styles
  • Getting mad at our kids
  • Being tired
  • Our houses not being perfectly in order
  • Working outside the home
  • Needing some quality “me” time.
  • Not wanting to play store for the 15th time that day…

5 Tips for Battling Mom Guilt

So many things make us feel bad for the ways we are parenting.  I am no stranger to mommy guilt, so I thought I would share some tips I have found helpful.

1. Start your day off right.  Having a devotional time first thing in the morning is a game changer for me. I focus on who God says I am and His ability to make up for all the weaknesses I see in myself. It is really powerful to let the places of guilt turn into fuel for my prayer life. For more on this, I refer you to Hello Mornings!

2. Sing. Say what? Yes. Sing. When I get frustrated with my kids and feel the urge to yell, I sing instead. Lets say I am frantically trying to make dinner when my son spills juice in my shoes (this is totally hypothetical of course).  It is the last straw to my rough day and I feel the yell coming out of my lungs. I open my clenched jaw and at the last minute turn my angry yell into a loud song.  “You! You spilled juice in my shoes! Yeah, yeah, yeah!”

You can sing at the top of your lungs to let the anger out and be explosive with your jazz hands as a way to relieve the tension. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. Plus, your kids just think you are being silly and start giggling along. Win, win.

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3. Say ‘yes’ whenever you can and don’t feel bad about saying ‘no’. I learned this from my mom. She always said ‘yes’ as often as she could. When she said ‘no’ we knew she had a good reason. I have found sometimes I say ‘no’ because I’d rather be lazy or want to be controlling. (Confession: sometimes I am bossy & controlling. Go ahead, gasp if you need to. ) I don’t feel guilty for saying ‘no’ even if they cry or have a tantrum. If I can make it happen, I will. If I can’t, then no need feeling guilty about it.

4. I ask my kids what needs work. Chances are our kids don’t care that we bought their party décor from Wally’s Party Factory instead of crafting a Pinterest worthy spread. I have found that most of the things I beat myself up about aren’t even a blip on my kid’s radar. I routinely ask my kids what they think we need to work on in our relationship. It helps me know what to focus on as a mom and it also teaches them that all relationships require communication and effort.

5. Trust God. When I was eleven, my parents moved our family to Siberia. S-I-B-E-R-I-A. My brother and I cried, questioned and cried some more. This was in the early 90s when there were bread lines and no other Americans to be found. You can bet my mama struggled with some guilt for that one. However, she trusted God.

He called my parents to move to Russia to plant a church and she trusted that He would take care of us in the process. She was right. Turns out that sub-freezing decision would be a highlight of my life. I LOVED Russia.

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Our family got closer, we fell more in love with Jesus and the Church, and it gave me an adventure few get to experience.

Parenting is full of risks. There is no standard we can all adhere to or method that works without a hitch. We are all gonna have bad days ( err…sometimes months) but God doesn’t want us to live in guilt.

We can trust that God is doing a good thing in our lives and our children’s lives as well. So, take a deep breath mamas. You don’t have to be perfect because God always has your back.

Have you struggled with mom guilt? How do you deal with it? Click here to join the discussion.

20130218-193106.jpgElizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband & two little kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car, and browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on twitter @larkandbloom.

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Comments

19 Comments

  • Avatar Cortney says:

    Guilt – what an energy sucker! Here are my guilt spots…

    That there are days that I would rather be ANYWHERE than at home with my kids (Siberia sounds good).
    There are days that full time boarding school for them or me is a real option.
    I wouldn’t mind shipping them to Siberia – alone.

    It is hard to feel the guilt on the days that I am just not thankful that I have these amazing children. Most days this is not true, thank God, but there are some days that, wow, I am a flight risk….On those days, we have to draw in close, I have to step out with my last ounce of energy and do something fun with them (light a fire and read a book, do a craft (gag), watch a movie together (one that I am engaged in and not just sitting reading my book beside them)). I have to BE with them, and relearn that I adore them, that I do indeed like them, and bask in that moment of feeling like we might all survive!

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      I love your honesty Cortney!

      And I think you hit such a great point – “I have to step out with my last ounce of energy and do something fun with them” – sometimes just being a kid with them is all it takes on those hard days to turn things around.

  • Great post! I love the singing idea. I’m totally going to use it. 🙂

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      Jenni,
      Isn’t that singing idea fantastic? I’m so glad Liz shared it. I used it the other day when my son had.so.many.questions. I just burst out singing instead of yelling and he joined right in thinking it was the most fun thing ever.

      I’ll be using that one a lot!

  • Avatar Lolly says:

    My introduction to mommy guilt was when I was talking to a friend and mentioned we would be sending our kids to pubic school Her response? “Well, I’m not going to sacrifice my children to the gods of this world!” Thwap!!

    We were in an excellent school district with many Christian teachers and my husband and I prayed about what we should do. We felt the Lord said public. We decided once we heard from the Lord, we didn’t need to concern ourselves with other people’s opinions. (Our kids did great in our public school are serving the Lord.)

  • Avatar Rebecca says:

    OH, the guilt! I homeschool, and money is tighter around here than an Oscar dress. I can’t send every kid to camp every year. They can’t go bowling with friends today. And on, and on…
    My secret weapon (a gift from my Heavenly Father!) was a grandmother in my church who took me under her wing when they were just babes and toddlers. She knew what was important (splashing in that FREEZING cold spring brook with them) and what wasn’t (that new Easter dress) and gave me loads of confidence and grace.

  • A few months after I had my daughter I was so worried about each and every little thing. Feeling guilty about everything. What was I doing wrong? What was I doing ok? Why was my daughter still waking up 5,437 times a night when all the other babies her age were sleeping 8-10 hours?

    A wise lady at my church told me (after I told her about all my mommy guilt) “Brittnie, there is only two ways you can screw up your kids. One is if you withhold love. The other is if you withhold teaching them about Jesus. But if you do those two things, love them fiercely and teach them about Christ, NOTHING else matters. Nothing.” That was a game changer for me and I will never forget her words.

  • Avatar Janet Dubac says:

    Oh thank you for these very useful advice! I can really relate to this especially the “Needing some quality “me” time.” When I get out of the house for a quick mommy break, I can’t help it but worry about my kids and end up going back to square one. Thanks for sharing these amazing tips!

  • Avatar Sara says:

    Thank you for this post! I needed this! I have 19 month old twins. The best thing I have done was to wake up earlier than them and star my day with God 🙂

  • Avatar Debbie says:

    I to love the singing idea. When it came to my kids I always saw it this way, “They were really God’s children and he was just entrusting me with them as there earthly mother, so if I needed help all I had to do was ask.” I was always granted strenght on those not so good days and as they got older he kept them safe for me when i couldn’t.

    Guilt keeps you from thinking straight. As parents we have to know that we are not perfect, trust God (because they are really his child) and when we mess up ask for God’s forgiveness and Tell the child we are sorry.

    Thank you for sharing and yes, i do know that guilt can be a road block, but you are right it can be overcome.
    Debbie

  • Avatar Sheila V. says:

    A good reminder for me today. It’s spring break for my kindergartner this week. I’m feeling guilty because I’m sleeping in (with him) instead of waking up very early in the morning to start doing household chores. I did get up at 6 just to do my devotional but went back to bed to snuggle with my little one. I want to spend this time with him since we rush every morning during school days. But I’m also feeling guilty because of the I-should-haves that goes in my head.

  • Avatar Kathryn says:

    Hi, just wanted to let u know that u have blessed a Mum all the way over in little ole Australia. Your message was Gods timing for me. Last night I was overwhelmed with motherhood thinking I’m doing a crummy job and going to screw up my kids. Thank u Jesus for His perfect timing and thank you for this blog it’s a blessing to me!! I have told lots of my friends about it.

  • Avatar Jenni R. says:

    Love all of this Elizabeth! Glad your wise words are getting passed to the masses too!

  • Avatar Katie says:

    What timely things for me to hear. I’m new-ish at this mom thing (my oldest is almost 3) and I’m starting to be aware of how much I think badly of myself about the things I do or don’t do with my girls. I especially love the saying yes when possible but not feeling bad for saying no. I’ve heard the “say yes” part many times and I try to say yes so much, but the times I don’t lead to big guilt. Maybe not anymore 🙂 Thank you!

  • Avatar Joyce says:

    Great post!!! I think as long as our children are not being hurt or neglected, every mom is doing the best that she can to raise her kiddos. Instead of judging and making others feel guilty, we need to support and encourage one another. And sometimes we don’t know all the details about how someone is doing something, but maybe we don’t need to. We can still love on them. So funny about the jazz hands too. I’ll try that out next time and let you know my kids’ response. :p