Get Over Your Mom Guilt – lives depend on it

Guilt – more specifically, the dreaded Mom Guilt.  It’s like that annoying cellulite that exists, we know it’s there, we see it, we feel it, we cover it up, we even joke about it. But it haunts us.

Ok, so that was a bit dramatic – but seriously – mom guilt sucks. In so many ways. For now, however, I want to specifically address how mom guilt is contributing to an unhealthy future for ourselves and our families.

Mom guilt causes us to put our children, our spouse or significant other, our families and even our friends over our own selves on the priority list.  In fact, often, we don’t even make it onto the priority list at all. (Wait a minute, you’re thinking – WE are SUPPOSED to be on the priority list???).

YES – we should be on the priority list, but instead, we mom’s trudge ahead each day, each week ensuring that our kids have fulfilling lives with what we deem to be appropriate activities, carting them around to their friends’ & their events. We make sure our families eat during the week, that their clothes are clean, that everyone wakes up and makes it to their respective locations timely. We ensure the house isn’t a garbage dump, we help with school projects, we make Target runs at 8pm for items needed the next day at school – essentially, we ensure everyone else’s lives are taken care of and functioning appropriately. Oh yeah, and don’t forget if you’re a working mom there’s that whole other job/career thing (no time to go into that right now ….).

Some of us even wear the guilt as a badge of honor (I am guilty of this by the way) – “Ohh, look at me and all the work I put in, all the things I do for you – never mind me, I’m fine – my life is fulfilling and I live to serve….” Hello martyr anyone? What is the cost of our martyrdom? What is the cost to our selves and our families down the road?

Well, if we don’t stop and jump off the guilt train, unfortunately the future is pretty bleak. Consistently putting others needs, others wants, and others priorities ahead of your own because you feel like you should, will only lead to overwhelm, anxiety, chronic stress, anger, frustration, feeling unappreciated, fatigued, uninterested in family time, lower libido, low self-esteem – I could keep going but I think you get the gist.

Let’s face it – being a mom is a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. And yes, it requires certain sacrifices to ensure that your children are happy and healthy and turn out to be (we hope) somewhat normal humans who contribute to this world and find their own dreams and live their own happiness. But recall – we mom’s also have our own dreams, our own lives, our own health and happiness to consider.  If we are burnt out shells of ourselves who constantly are running ourselves ragged and ignore the toll on our bodies and minds – we will not have done our jobs as mothers. We would have modeled extremely poor behaviors for our families. We would be too tired, too fat and too diseased as we grow older to enjoy our children and someday maybe our grandchildren. We would have lost our spark for living. How, I ask you, is that being a good mom?

I believe that part of being a good mom is showing your children the importance of taking care of yourself – body, mind and spirit. Modeling behaviors that you want to instill in your children is the best way to teach them. Taking time for your self-care, putting thought and practice into what goes into your body, making time for exercise and fun – all of these habits will:

  1. Keep you calm so that you don’t morph into the crazy, at your wits-end mom who freaks out on her kids (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about)
  2. Help you stay physically fit to keep up with your children and participate in activities with them over the years
  3. Help you feel better about yourself, happy, fulfilled and alive
  4. Help you look younger and grow old gracefully (by showing wrinkles and fat who’s boss)
  5. Help you want to stay connected and close to your partner and have a fulfilling sex life (this also helps you not become the crazy, rampaging mom I spoke about above)
  6. Help you live a long, healthy life and decrease or eliminate the chances that your children will have the burden of caring for you in their adult years
  7. Show your children that mom is important too and she is an actual person outside of the dirty laundry and messes she cleans up
  8. Provide for a positive family experience full of love and laughter

So – it’s time to give up the excuses, put the guilt behind you and start saying yes to YOU. Mom guilt is destructive and counter-productive to what we really want for our families. No more “because I should” or “because I have to” or “I’ll take care of me when I have time”. There is no one more important than you in your family – if you aren’t around to ground and center your family what would happen? I know I don’t want to know. I am now dedicated to catching myself falling into the guilt trap, stopping and redirecting myself. I am working hard at this because I want my girls to see positive examples of how they should take care of themselves and their families when they are older.

It’s a constant and conscious effort on my part – one that I have already felt the positive affects of.  Just ask my husband (who is not the subject of my crazy, tired, angry and irrational tirades any longer)!

Remember it’s not about PERFECT, it’s about HAPPY

Take this time at home; Make the space and look for the positive

Hello all. And so, here we are – an unknown and scary time for so many. As my parents remember bomb shelter drills and such as part of their childhood, so my children will likely remember self-isolation and remote learning periods. Hopefully lessons will be learned and this won’t be an annual thing…

I know that all the unknowns bring fear, anxiety and worry. And, while I agree there are many things for us as responsible grown-ups to be legit worried about, we CAN NOT let the fear, anxiety and worry overtake us. Now, more than ever, we need to employ our self-care practices to stay healthy, hone our meditation practices, excercise, pray etc. Whatever it takes to stay sane and keep our stress levels down. It’s the constant stress, the constant stream of uninterrupted cortisol that will lower our immunity and crack our sanity. Self-care at this time is not only important for our own peace of mind and stress levels but we must role-model positive behaviors, reactions and responses to our children, families, loved ones, co-workers and those we come across.

So, to this I say – while managing the negative, start focusing on the positives that this experience, this time could bring us.

What positives you ask? Well, they will be different for each of us. But, here are a few I’ve started to keep in mind on my list. Please feel free to add your own in the comments to this post!

Being at home so much offers me the space and time to take stock of my life. I have the time to ensure I am aligned with who I want to be and the values I uphold. I have the time to identify areas that I’d like to work on and improve.

I get to sleep in an extra hour!!!! The time I spent putting makeup on, making sure the kids were ready for school, prepping for dinner and in the car driving is now extra sleep for me – YES!!!

Being at home gives me time for catching up on my reading. My husband teases me as I have a new book coming from Amazon every other week, most of which I have only had the time to skim or research information from. I can now actually dedicate real time to reading! Woo hoo!!

I am able to spend more time with my kids outside of the hours I am working in the office or when they are working on school assignments. I don’t feel so rushed and find I am really enjoying the chatter, the laughter, the stories. Instead of being rushed to get to the “next thing” and rushing them through or only paying 1/2 attention – I am more present with them. While we always had “family-time” in the evenings, we are now doing other things interspersed throughout the day – baking, puzzles, games, walks.

I appreciate all the little things I have taken for granted. Like, greeting folks with hugs, eating out, going to the mall or a movie. Just being able to be free and be out and about.

My house is actually CLEAN – OMG – It Makes Me SOOO HAPPY!!!!!

And though these types of situations can bring out the worst in humanity, it also brings out the best. I choose everyday to focus on the “best’s” that are happening all around the world. The support, the selfless giving, the love – amazing stories of the goodness of people abound. It inspires me, gives me hope and makes my soul happy.

So, while we are all managing our fears and worries – focusing on the positives helps us get through. It gives us comfort. It reduces our stress. It brings us together and reminds us that we are not alone.

What will make your soul happy? Where will you find the positives in the Corona environment in which we are living? Please share – and – take care of yourself!