Mommy guilt has been something that’s plagued me for most of my life as a mom. But to be completely honest, I think it started long before motherhood.
Truth be told, I am a recovering people-pleaser. I’ve always enjoyed making people happy — even at the expense of my own peace and happiness. It was my way of showing love to the people I care about the most.
I had to finally come to terms with the fact that trying to make everyone happy really made no one happy. All it really did was slowly drain my stores of joy, energy, and peace.
Let’s face it: One empty vessel can’t fill another.
So early on in motherhood, I found myself, well, empty. I was frustrated with motherhood. More specifically, I was frustrated with myself.
As a new mom, I spent a LOT of time researching everything about motherhood. From nutrition to diapering to parenting styles, if it was on the Internet, I read it. But then something happened I didn’t expect. I got to the point where I couldn’t really tell what my parenting “style” was.
I couldn’t tell what my own conviction was and what was someone else’s.
It wasn’t until I was so tired and disappointed with the mom I had become (resorting to things I swore I’d never, ever do *chuckle*) that I remembered the words my mom had said to me when I was pregnant:
“Don’t fill your head with so much noise that you can’t hear your own instincts.”
BOOM. Sitting on the floor, cracked and broken from trying to be the supermom I thought I was supposed to be, it all finally made sense.
I wasn’t meant to carry the burdens of other people’s parenting convictions.
This gave me a HUGE sense of relief and sent me on the very freeing path to rediscovering what my own convictions and instincts actually are. Even more importantly, it helped me recognize mommy guilt before it happens — and say NO.
But it wasn’t something that happened over night. In fact, I still struggle with this sometimes. Ha! Okay. I still struggle with this all the time, but it’s a LOT easier to nip it in the bud than it was before.
Do you struggle with mommy guilt? Here are a few effective strategies that have helped me move beyond the guilt and into a more joyful motherhood:
1. I started replacing disappointment with thankfulness. This has been effective in many areas of my life, but none more so than conquering mommy guilt.
Here’s a great example: Eating fast food has been one of my biggest sources of mommy guilt. I know there are MUCH better sources of nutrition for my kids. In fact, I have studied nutrition extensively due to my kids’ very unexpected and severe food allergies. Suffice it to say that I get it.
So when I’ve had to resort to fast food out of sheer exhaustion from mothering a five-year-old with special needs and a two-year-old who … well, who’s a two-year-old, the guilt hung pretty heavy on my shoulders.
Sure, I could meal plan. Sure, I could spend more time thinking ahead so I don’t have to resort to Taco Bell. But let’s be real (and give a little grace!), when you’re tired, you’re tired! And thank the Good Lord, they actually eat it! God bless the bean burrito!
It took me a long time to be okay with that. When I started to tune out of the judgment of others and tune into my own conviction, I started hearing grace. And grace said, “Thank God for the food (and the life!) He’s blessed you with.”
That changed it for me! Instead of sitting there grumbling about my insufficiencies as a mom in this area, I started thanking God for what he’s provided. Sometimes it’s a homemade meal. Sometimes it’s Taco Bell. But it’s ALWAYS a blessing.
2. I decided to give grace to others when I need it most. Sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me. Extending grace to others when you really need it will help you give yourself grace, too!
What do I mean by extending grace?
I mean give other moms a break.We all have our own burdens. Every. Single. One of us. For some, it’s their children’s food allergies. For others, it’s having children with special needs. And for some, it’s dealing with debilitating guilt and depression.We have the power to make or break someone’s day by extending some much-needed love and grace. Not only that, but it’ll help you recognize when you’re being too hard on yourself. Remember: We ALL need grace.
3. I replaced judgement with appreciation. I’m going to be totally honest here: This one was hard for me. Not because I like being a troll and get my jollies by tearing others down, but because I really didn’t realize how much I actually judge others in my own heart until I became a mom. YUCK.
It is hard not to place my own mothering convictions on other people. Really hard. Sometimes I do it with the best of intentions, not realizing I’m just taking my burdens and plopping them on top of some other mom’s shoulders — a mom who wasn’t made to carry them.
I’ve had that done to me SO many times, and it really knocks the wind out of my sails. I NEVER want to do that to another mom. Ever. So I’ve decided to be intentional in appreciating other people’s methods of mothering. And to be honest, I almost always learn something from other moms that ends up being a major blessing for me. Sometimes seeing things from someone else’s perspective can free you up to really see them — and learn something, too!
4. I decided to see and acknowledge the wonderful things about myself as a mom. Of all four of these tips, this is the one I struggle with the most, hands down.Why? Because I don’t intuitively acknowledge my own victories. In fact, I’ve always had this nasty habit of being my harshest critic. I don’t want to think more highly of myself than I ought, but that often results in me tearing myself down.
Can you relate?
Don’t be afraid to give yourself love and grace, too. Doing this does NOT make you self-absorbed or conceited. It means you care about yourself, your heart, and your mind, all of which are important to being a healthy and whole mom. And chances are, your children already see so many wonderful things in you — even when you feel like you’ve blown it … again. 🙂
These game-changing, mind-changing strategies have helped me change my perspective and take charge of my own mommy guilt. I hope they help you, too!
How about you? What are strategies do you use to combat mommy guilt? Can you relate to the struggles mommy guilt brings? Comment below and let me know! 🙂
Know a mom who needs help overcomming mommy guilt? Don’t forget to share these tips with her! <3