As parents, where does our guilt come from and how can we manage it?

Guilt. It’s such a common emotion in parents, so much that it even has its own hashtag [#momguilt]. With topics like mom guilt and mommy burnout becoming increasingly more popular, now more than ever, parents need additional support to combat feelings of inadequacy, as good parents, from all walks of life, are feeling bad about the life they are providing for their children.

Where does this “mom guilt” come from? We are known as the generation who provides MORE for our children than ever before; more attention, more patience, more safety, more material things. Seemingly, we have evolved from the way our parents raised us and yet, we are noticing that more parents suffer from feelings of guilt as if they are never good enough.

The Downside of Social Media

Social media could be partially to blame for mom guilt. After all, we’re constantly bombarded by glamorous, oftentimes unattainable images with depictions of the ideal modern family unit. Instagram is brimming with mommy bloggers who regularly share photos of their beautiful homes, showcasing impeccable interior design, success stories of 3-day potty-training routines, organic or farm-to-table meals, and advanced literacy and language skills achieved through creative and customized at-home activities. Not to mention, the lavish trips we may not be able to afford as well as the perpetually organized and immaculately kept home.

Unfortunately, we often forget that this is just a snapshot of real life. We rarely see the difficult times parents and families face, like sleepless nights, insecurities, managing demanding schedules, and ensuring that we are consistently growing and offering the best version of ourselves.

Juggling Priorities

Another aspect that could contribute to mom guilt is a general lack of time being spent with our children. Whether it’s trying to balance work, extracurriculars, or simply navigating day-to-day challenges, families are busier than ever before!

We frequently hear from parents who are concerned about their work-life balance and whether they are devoting enough time to their children. Many other parents feel guilty about putting their children in childcare, despite the numerous long-term benefits that this experience can provide. The key to focus on here is the quality of the time you spend together as a family, rather than just the quantity. 

Here are just a few of the many ways you can manage your mom guilt and enhance your family time together.

Put the Phone Away

These days, our phones are our cameras, our calendars, our main source of news, and so much more. Plus, if you’re working from home, you might need to check it on a more regular basis. Rather than turning your phone off completely, try occasionally (and intentionally) turning off your notifications. By removing the distraction of constant dinging noises and banner alerts, you can dedicate more undivided attention to your family and be able to live in the moment

Stick to a Routine

Create a schedule or routine that involves connecting with your family members every day. Whether it be a sit-down family dinner, nightly bedtime stories, or a car ride without the radio on; it’s important to engage and interact with each other on a daily basis. Try maintaining consistent routines that both you and your children can look forward to, knowing this time together is sacred and non-negotiable (as much as possible). 

Don’t Over-Schedule

Make a conscious effort not to overbook your schedule. Use a calendar to keep track of all school, work, and family events to consider when planning things like birthday parties and other major events. Also, while signing up for extracurricular activities, keep in mind that it doesn’t take long for your week to fill up and get stressful if you have numerous children enrolled in them. Be mindful of your family’s schedule and don’t forget to carve out time for rest as well. 

Use Childcare as a Solution

There are many reasons why a family might consider enrolling their children in childcare. Whether it’s work-related or there are scheduling conflicts or any number of other reasons,  childcare can be a valuable option for families. In fact, according to Dr. Maria Melchior, “Access to high-quality childcare in the first years of life may improve children’s emotional and cognitive development, prevent later emotional difficulties, and promote prosocial behaviours.” Children who are enrolled in childcare during the day are actively involved in activities that enhance their social, emotional, physical, and psychological growth and well-being.

Allow Yourself ‘Me Time’

Finally, the best way for parents to maintain their independence and individuality is to participate in activities that they enjoy! Set aside time for yourself whether it’s an afternoon for a hobby you enjoy, monthly date nights with your partner, going to the gym, or even just 10 minutes for some self-care, ‘me time’ is crucial to a parent’s mental health and overall wellbeing. Be mindful during this time and spend it completely focused on yourself and your own needs. No mom guilt here!

Mom Guilt Quotes

Here are some quotes and affirmations to help you combat your mom guilt.

  1. Self-care is not selfish. It’s healthy for others to see that your needs matter too.
  2. I am a good parent already simply because I love my kids.
  3. I forgive myself for my failures. I am constantly learning. 
  4. It is okay to ask for help.
  5. I am making decisions with the best interest of my family in mind.
  6. Taking care of myself is not selfish, it is necessary for me to be a great parent. 
  7. I find joy in the everyday moments of my life.
  8. I will let go of how I think today is supposed to go and accept how imperfectly it happens.
  9. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my family.
  10. Sharing my humanness with my family is a gift to them.