Little did we know that when we gave birth to our children, we also birthed a whole new emotion: mommy guilt. I got a big serving of it in the first week after I gave birth to my daughter when I took some me-time to do my hair and makeup.
I remember walking out of the bathroom—feeling human for the first time in ages—and greeting my midwife, who had come to check in on the baby. As I did, I saw myself through her eyes and got a big serving of self-imposed judgement. My warm glow quickly faded, replaced by a surge of hot guilt: why was I spending this frivolous time on hair and makeup when I had a brand new baby that needed all of my love and attention? Surely, a good mom would have had a quick shower and come back to be with her baby.
Harsh, right? I hear from so many other moms about the guilt. It’s there if we work “too many” late nights. It’s there when we can’t get work off our minds when we’re supposed to be playing with our kids and can’t be fully present with them. And it’s especially there when we take that precious time just for ourselves.
Here are some things to keep in mind to help ditch the guilt.
Get some perspective
I was able to snap myself out of that guilty mom space when I thought about just how much time I was devoting—about 18 of the 24 hours—to my baby. The other six hours went to sleep and that one small, blissful, self pampering reprieve.
Think about the most common times that you feel guilt. What perspective will help you to see your guilty moments differently and more positively?
Remember that you need to take care of yourself
It’s the same as putting the airplane oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your child. You need to take care of you before you can take care of someone else. It’s nurturing. Taking care of yourself ensures that your tank is full and your engine is revved so that you can provide everything you have to your career, friends, and family. Everyone benefits! Consider also the powerful message and example your children receive when you deliberately take good care of your mind and body.
The next time you plan to take a moment for yourself, write down all of the ways others will benefit.
Remind yourself that you’re a great mom
You really are an awesome mom! Instead of noticing all of the things that supposedly make you a bad mom, take note of all of the ways you have been a good mom. Consider keeping a small notebook or journal where you can capture these moments. Yes, driving your daughter to hockey at the crack of OMG counts. Yes, packing a lunch counts, even when it’s not 100% organic or includes processed foods. Yes, wearing a lopsided tiara and playing tea party for the 500th time that week counts. Review these notes when your harsh inner critic starts to speak up.
How might you keep track of your good mom deeds?