Kelli here! If you haven’t met me on this site before or on the internet yet, I’m the LCK food editor! I work along side Lexi developing recipes for all of you! But I’m also a mom, and that is a big part of my life, of course. As Mother’s Day approaches, Lexi and I thought it would be the perfect time to start a discussion about something that affects all moms, and something we thought you’d have something valuable to contribute to a discussion as well. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
by Kelli Avila
Since becoming a mom, almost 6 years ago there is one emotion I feel more than any other one: guilt. Mom guilt is such a common thread between all mothers regardless of your personal circumstance, working status, financial situation or where you live. Moms feel guilt and doubt about everything ranging from what food they put on the table to how many kids they want to have.
I think part of the reason mothers in particular have “mom guilt” is because of the intense love and connection they have for their children, which of course culminates in the desire to want to give them the best possible life. But more realistically it is that modern day parenting is hard, and social media in particular sets such unrealistic expectations that no parent can truly achieve.
Not only do moms have to live up to unrealistic societal expectations, but there is also this culture war going on where parental decisions are debated on both sides and moms feel they can’t win approval, no matter what they do. It’s time to push back against this and reset the internal expectations and stop feeling guilty about these 7 things.
Stop feeling guilty that your house isn’t clean.
A group of my mom friends and I get together every couple of weeks, trading hosting responsibilities in our home, to dish about the latest happenings in our lives and families. When we first started this tradition I think we would all run around like crazy before the arrival of the other moms to clean our homes. But as time went on, we started to get more real with each other and started saying: “I like you enough that I didn’t clean for you.” Letting go of that burden felt freeing, and when it happened it made me evaluate the message I was internally telling myself daily about the comparison of how unorganized or messy my house was compared to others. I started to embrace the fact that currently, in this phase of my life my house is messy because I work a lot, I’ve got young kids and we’re always busy with other things.
Instead of being guilty about my disorderly home now, I only focus on the areas of my house that impact our day-to-day life. For instance, having a sink full of dirty dishes or a messy kitchen impacts most of our day, so that’s the one room I tend to make sure it’s clean. But having clean clothes sit in a basket unfolded doesn’t impact us as badly, so those clean clothes might sit in the corner of the living room for weeks on end, and there isn’t any guilt involved about it. It’ll get done eventually! And I’ve stopped telling myself that other families have much cleaner homes than I do, because it isn’t helpful and very likely not true.
Stop feeling guilty that you don’t play with your kids “enough”
I’ll admit it right here on the internet: I don’t like playing with kids. I love being around them, but I personally don’t like doing imaginary play. I feel like there are messages out there in the world making it seem like I need to be playing and entertaining my kids all the time, but playing with my kids feels forced to me. As my kids went from babies to toddlers and really got into imaginary play I would feel guilt each day for not jumping in and playing with them. And in the moments that I did, it felt so inauthentic that I truly hated it.
So instead I let go of the guilt and now focus and embrace the meaningful moments to connect with my children in other ways that feel genuine. And I focus on the quality of our time, instead of quantity. There are tons of people in my kids life (including their Dad) who love to genuinely play kid games, but that’s not me. Our time spent together reading or telling stories, singing, or talking about our days at the dinner table has more impact for the relationship than an hour of forced imaginary play. If playing is for you, that’s totally great…but if it isn’t know you can connect in other meaningful ways without the guilt.
Stop feeling guilty that you want alone time. And that you can never get enough of it.
The other day my husband took the kids to the park for an hour because he could sense that I had very little patience left after a long day with the kids. He grabbed their coats, headed out the door and said “Let’s give Mama some time.” During that hour I did a bunch of chores and cooked dinner. When he came back, the kids were tired and still very whiney and not keen on listening. My frustration tolerance with them did not decrease at all. He could sense this and said: “An hour alone wasn’t enough time?” And I laughed when I realized out loud: “No. Not even close.”
I won’t feel guilty for needing alone time, and that I always craving more. Me wanting alone time to process life and have the quiet calm to hear my own thoughts in no way makes me a bad mother. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Focusing on my own mental health every once in a while makes me a better mom. I’ll never have enough alone time, but any chance I’m going to have to get some, I’ll take it, and I hope you do too, without the guilt!
Stop feeling guilty about your work status
All moms work. Period. It’s just some get money for it if they have a paying job and others do only unpaid work at home that minimizes or eliminates the expense of childcare. The idea that a mom should feel guilty for working a paid job outside the home because she is away from her family is so antiquated. And on the flip side so is the image that if you are a full-time SAHM your life is easy and full of free time to do exactly whatever it is you want.
Personally I’ve spent half my time as a mother being the full-time caregiver and the other half of the time working in some capacity and I can say with confidence: both being a stay at home parent and being a working parent is equally challenging in modern day parenting. We all make the best choices we possibly can for our family. More and more that looks like two full-time working parents, but there are still plenty of moms that are full-time caretakers either by choice or by necessity. There should be no guilt associated with spending time away with from your family, and if being at home is your job it isn’t any less important than one that brings home the money.
Stop feeling guilty that every meal you put on the table isn’t the picture of health.
I’m a mother that spends most of her days cooking professionally, and I care passionately about what I feed my family yet I STILL struggle some nights with getting a decent enough meal on the table. But my philosophy with dinner has changed recently: do the best you can. Stop feeling guilty that some nights what is served isn’t the picture of perfection. Instead focus on feeding your family with intention when possible (planning ahead helps) and when possible sit down together to eat. This has much more of an impact than what is being served!
Stop feeling guilty that your body looks different post-baby
It wouldn’t be a celebrity interview post baby if somebody didn’t remark on how quickly they’ve lost the baby weight, and guess what: I’m so over that. My body grew, birthed and cared for two humans. It changed the composition of it. I am bigger, but more importantly, I’m stronger. Heck, even if I became a mom, without carrying the baby, through adoption or other means, caring for a small human really changes priorities. While I struggle with this one sometimes too, the post baby me is still me, just in a different form.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t devote time to your own health and your well being, because that should always be a priority: but leave the guilt behind if your post body baby is your new normal. Comparing yourself with celebrities or other moms who have different resources available at their disposal (or different genetics) isn’t helping anything. My 4-year-old son is an extremely cuddly child and nothing makes me change my perspective about my body as the love I feel from him when he hugs my whole body tight: he loves me not because of any way I look, but because I am me.
Stop feeling guilty that you can’t do it all.
We all know the notion that women can have it all is dead. This simply doesn’t exist, especially in modern day family life. Every mom has different priorities: whether that is focusing on her career, putting healthy food on the table for the family or prioritizing personal and family fitness. What is a priority to me, might be something another mom hardly thinks about. No one mom, or person really, can be perfect at everything. Stop feeling guilty you can’t do it all and embrace what makes you, you as a mom, and stop feeling guilty about the rest.