If you've ever said or thought, "I'm the worst mom ever..." or “I don’t think I can do this working mom thing anymore,” you're not alone. Most moms have felt those shameful, no-good feelings often called mom guilt. But, if you’re a mom, mom guilt doesn't have to be a part of your life. That persistent little voice inside your head that tells you that you’re not a good mom is one of the biggest killers of joy, and it can be defeated. How can we fight back the joy-killing, life-sucking, dark cloud of mom guilt?
Over the years I have been bombarded by that mom-guilt voice and, at times, have felt almost overpowered by it. When the guilt had me in its grips it was like I had no choice but to become an even worse mom. Screaming, slamming doors, flipping out, and throwing things. A crazed look in my eye and a hoarse voice from all the loud yelling. To quiet that voice, and to avoid feeling like a female version of the Incredible Hulk, I started paying attention to when I would hear the mom-guilt voice and what would make me succumb to feeling like I was a sad excuse for a mom so why try.
I noticed that it usually happened when I was too tired, too busy, or not really paying attention to the good things in my life. Here are some of the strategies I’ve used to battle those unwarranted feelings of inferiority.
3 Tricks to Silence Working Mom Guilt
Get some sleep. Fatigue is like an open chink in your feel-good armor. The less sleep you get, the bigger the opening for mom guilt to creep in. I always notice I feel much better about myself after I’ve had a good night of sleep, even if I haven’t made my kids a hot meal before they dash off to school.
An easy hack to get more sleep
Set an alarm for your bedtime one hour before you want to be in bed with lights out and take it seriously. You could use your screen time function on your iPhone to turn your phone to sleep/Do-Not-Disturb mode one hour before you want to go to bed. Or, you could just use that alarm to prompt you to shut down all electronic devices. It has been proven that sleep is better when there’s time for your brain to wind down after looking at screens all day.
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Say “no” to things. Take some of the stuff off your to-do list. You know when you do something for your child and you don’t really feel like doing it, but you do it anyway only to have them complain, which results in you losing your cool and blowing up at them? The busier you are, the more frazzled you feel. The more frazzled you feel, the less patient you are with yourself and with your child. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to everything for a day to get your balance back.
A brilliant hack for saying “no” without saying “no”
Mark a do-nothing day on your calendar. My sister puts marks one day a month on her calendar as a reserved-to-do-nothing day. I think it’s brilliant to have one day per month to recharge and rest. Even if it means cleaning the house and playing board games with the kids.
Practice being grateful. This might seem like a do-nothing bandage, but gratitude really works. When you specifically pay attention to and track the things your grateful for every day you start to notice more of what you’re grateful for and pay attention to those things rather than the things that drag you down. This is especially good to combat mom guilt. If you’re too busy looking for things you’re grateful for your mind won’t be tempted to wander off into an “I’m the worst mom on the planet” pity party.
A quick way to be more grateful
Track your gratitude in a notebook or on your phone. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal off and on for years and I notice when I track my gratitude every day I feel happier and more joy centered. Rather than looking for ways to confirm the “I’m not enough” lie that is the calling card of mom guilt, we can find ways to celebrate the little things that confirm, “I can handle this” and “life is pretty good.”
There you have it. Get yourself back on track to feeling more joy in motherhood. I’ve noticed that when I get enough sleep, say “no” to things, and really focus on gratitude, the voice of mom guilt is silenced and doesn’t bother me. What steps do you take to keep mom guilt away?