Girl’s nights, girlfriend getaways, getting your hair done, going shopping, exercising, working outside the home. What do these things have in common? These are the things for me which create the most mom guilt. I schedule a girls night probably each month, I get my hair done once a month, I go on girls weekend getaway maybe once or twice a year, exercise, nope can’t exercise because of all the other stuff I do. Oh and I work outside the home, someone else watches my daughter. Let’s bring on all the guilt that I could have. Yes, sometimes it comes up, but most of the time I manage it.
When we have kids, life changes. Some would say for the good, some would say for the worse lol! When I had my daughter, I never knew how much guilt I would feel over leaving her. In our society and culture, women are taught that our lives take a backseat to our children. Now you have kids, your life is over, no more having fun, no more vacations, no more girls nights. YOU MUST devote every single second to your child or you’re considered a bad parent. Even after all these years, the feminist movement and loads of opportunities for women, we still feel the need to be everything to everyone and that our needs don’t count. It is no wonder that moms feel stressed out and feel guilty about everything. I read so many blogs out there about moms having anxiety and it makes me sad and angry that our society is making us anxious and worrisome about everything.
After talking with many moms, the number one thing that makes moms feel guilty is not “living up to the societal expectations” placed upon us. This is something that has to change. If we try to live up to some ideal that someone came up with, yes moms are going to be stressed and believe they are doing something wrong and that is not helpful. In this blog, I want to teach you some ways to deal with feeling guilty.
The first thing is to notice the thoughts you are having that lead to feeling guilty. This comes from the work of Byron Katie. Most of these thoughts will be some version of, “I’m not a good parent if I ___________”. (Fill in the blank with your thought). Really think about if that statement is true or not and then try to turn it around. Maybe it’s I am a good parent when I ______”. And then think of some reasons why this could be true or truer than your original thought. Post them somewhere, on your fridge or bathroom mirror so you can see it every day. Our brains have been conditioned to think the negative thoughts, so when we are trying to change it, it needs to hear the new thought repeatedly.
Another thing that I have learned is that I have my own truth and if I am true to myself, then those feelings of guilt aren’t as bad. Byron Katie has a great quote about this, “There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours and God’s”. This means that we need to stay in our own business and be true to ourselves and not worry about what others are doing. I know as a mom, we like to compare our kids and lives, but it really does not help and we may be in someone else’s “business”. It just creates more guilt because we are trying to be something we aren’t. Just because Johnny’s mom likes to throw fancy birthday parties it doesn’t mean she’s better than the rest of us. It just means that is what she likes to do or it’s possible she really doesn’t like it, and just does it because she thinks it is what is expected of her. Think about how you feel when you do something because you don’t genuinely want to do it. You feel crappy and stressed, right? When we place judgement on another person, we may actually want to do look at ourselves and see what is going on with us. If we are jealous of the mom that throws those fancy parties, it may be in part that we want to be more like her. It’s really not her problem, it’s our problem.
Another tip, which is a great follow up to that last one, is to ask the question “Does this feel like love?” This comes from the work of Master Life coach Brooke Castillo and also Master Life Coach Susan Hyatt. If you’re feeling guilty about something, it probably doesn’t feel like love. Asking this question, it opens up enormous opportunities to see the world a little clearer. Does love feel like working full time, part-time or not at all? Does love feel like throwing a huge birthday party? Next time you’re faced with a dilemma, ask yourself this question and see what comes up for you.
My last tip is to write down your priorities and values. If exercise is a top priority for you, put it in your calendar and go do it. You can take care of yourself and be a good parent. In fact, in my own opinion, when we take care of ourselves, we make better parents because we are more present with the people in our lives. I schedule everything, family time, me time, extended family time, husband time, exercise time, friend time etc. It may seem like a lot, but it’s totally worth it. Creating those boundaries helps immensely with the feelings of guilt that sometimes come up.
P.S. I am offering a free BARE (By Susan Hyatt) Virtual Book Club this summer. Classes start May 30th. Go to my website, www.tashahazelton.com/new-events to get yourself registered! I’ve got lots of stuff lined up and I’m super excited to share Susan’s message with you!