Last year I sat in a room full of women at the Making Things Happen Conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (you can read more about that experience HERE). At the beginning of the first day we were asked to write down our biggest fear and then stand in front of the ENTIRE room and say our fear aloud. I'll admit that I almost puked all over the girl in front of me- maybe sharing my biggest fear in front of a hundred women was actually my biggest fear.
I mustered up the courage and admitted "My biggest fear is that my children will grow up believing that they are less important to me than my business, because I spend so much time and energy focused on that." If I'm being totally honest, this fear of mine still exists and the mom guilt associated with it can sometimes be suffocating. With that being said, this blog post is JUST AS MUCH for me as it is for those of you who may be reading.
Identifying the source of your mom guilt
Whether you work full time, part time, outside the home, or from your home, everyone has their own version of motherhood guilt. It is a real thing, and chances are you have experienced it at one point or another. Does your guilt stem from circumstances at work? Does your guilt stem from comparison of what other mothers are doing? Does it stem from unrealistic expectations your have set on yourself? Identify the source so you can create a solution for your mom guilt. A lot of times there are solutions to our guilt. For example: One of my guilt stems from the temptation and need to constantly be working. As a work-from-home mom, I experience both the privilege and the struggles associated with being at home 24/7 with my little ones. One solution would be to schedule times of play into my day throughout the day to fully engage with my children between projects. Maybe I wake up earlier to get some work done before their day begins. Maybe I make it a point to spend 45 minutes of quality interactive play with them to fill up their love tanks after breakfast. Maybe I set a timer to have sporadic dance parties to 'Baby Shark' throughout the day. Maybe I schedule my calls during nap time instead of when they are awake and craving my attention. All of these solutions are 100% possible (and things that I try to incorporate into my life).
Recognize that there will be harder seasons
I have come to realize that some seasons are just naturally harder than others. If your job is more demanding a certain time of year, than your guilt is likely to skyrocket at that time. For me, wedding season in the fall is especially challenging. Due to the nature of my career choice and my absence during weekends, I try to account for extra time with the boys during the week. Maybe I take every Monday off and we spend the whole day together. Maybe I take the boys to Chick-Fil-A every Saturday before I have to leave for my weddings to treat them to something special. Or maybe I bring them home a slice of wedding cake that they can enjoy the next day!
Stop the comparison
Say it to yourself...no really: "I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet". This is an area that always gets me. It is all too tempting to feel guilty that you fed your children mac-n-cheese shaped liked Paw Patrol characters from a box, while Karen fed her kids organic, farm-fresh, or all natural foods cut into shapes and sorted by color. It is all too tempting to feel inadequate when you see Emma's kids neutral toned, matching linen rompers and beautifully styled hair, while your kids are running around in underwear and have PB&J stuck in their hair. And, it is all too tempting to feel like a failure when Janet's 18 month old daughter is already potty trained, and you can't get your 4 year old to poop on the toilet. I believe social media has so much potential for us mamas to connect and create a community, but it can also be a place filled with reminders of our failures and inadequacy. Be on guard as you scroll through Instagram and Pinterest. I will willingly admit that I have had to unfollow people—not because they were doing anything wrong, but because every time I looked at their feed I became less content with my life.
Do your kids hear how much they mean to you every day? Do you take a few minutes to sit with them, snuggle and talk? Do you ask how their day at school was? Do you look into their eyes when they speak? Do you tell them that you are proud of them? Do you encourage them? Do you remind them constantly of how much you love and adore them?
Take a break
It is totally okay to stop mid-project and build a fort or go for a walk. It is okay to leave the laundry for a few more hours play with sidewalk chalk. Instead of feeling the pressure to clean up from their childhood, why not stop and actively participate in it? That email can wait, that proposal isn't due until next week. Stop and spend a little QT with your kids.
Ask for help
This is a hard one for me too. I feel allergic to asking for help a lot of times. I hate inconveniencing others. However, something I have come to realize in my 4 years of motherhood is that it takes a village. IT IS OKAY to ask for help. IT IS OKAY to need some assistance. Whether it is asking the bag boy to help you load your groceries so you can get your kids in the car, or hiring someone to come deep clean your house once every few weeks. There is nothing wrong with needing a little help. Maybe it is child-care once a week so you can devote one full day to work and take one full day off with your kids. Maybe it is a meal delivery service so you can avoid meal planning and grocery shopping.
It may just be me, but there are some days where I text my husband while he is at work saying "please come home and take these kids from me". Although he can't just leave work, I count down the hours until he gets off for the day and can come release me from the chaos. It's okay to feel the need to get away from time to time. I've read that being a mother is equivalent to more than 3 full time jobs. Between wiping things, breaking up fights, and throwing snacks at my kids every 45 seconds, mom life can be exhausting. Throw in a baby who won't sleep and sometimes it feels like a prison sentence. Here is a little tidbit for you: don't let the overwhelm steal away your joy in motherhood. When I take an hour or two away by myself I always come home more energized and ready to love my children. When I leave for a few days and come home I feel like a brand new person. It is okay to get away and have a little time to take care of yourself. Eat a hot meal (I now know why mama bear's porridge was cold), drive in silence, go to Target and smell all of the shampoo you want!
Remind yourself of all you have
It is easy to get caught up in the comparison game and feeling guilt about what we aren't doing. Instead, remind yourself of all that you do have. You have created a human being (or multiple). You are keeping someone else alive (that's more than I can say about my plants). You are doing a good job! Speak positivity over your children and over your life. Your children are going to look at you and see how strong you are. What a gift you are to them. You are truly a superwoman with all that you do—REMIND YOURSELF OF THAT!
Everyone could use a little morning pep-talk! I've created a guide of morning affirmations to help motivate you to rise up and start your day confidently! Get yours HERE