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Everything You Need to Know About Mom Guilt and 5 Ways to Overcome It

I hate to admit it, but mom guilt is real. As much as I wish moms never felt guilty about their parenting styles or lives in general, that’s not the case. The reality is, you can ask just about any mom you know if they’ve ever felt guilty about something in motherhood and they will say yes. 

It’s human nature to have expectations for yourself, but us moms hold ourselves to an almost unachievable standard. 

We spend every waking moment thinking about our precious little babies and how we can protect and care for them, all while feeling like we’re failing at it. 

To make matters worse, society spends a lot of time and money pushing ideas into our heads about what being a ‘mother’ is ‘supposed’ to look like. Sprinkle a little social media doom scroll comparisons on top and we’re already looking at a pretty nasty recipe for disaster.

Am I saying we should just accept guilt as a normal part of being a mother? Absolutely not. I’m kinda rooting for the opposite–letting go of mom guilt. 

What is Mom Guilt?

Mom guilt is precisely what it sounds like: feeling guilt as a mother. There really isn’t a clear-cut definition, but I’ll be honest–mom guilt shows up in all aspects of my life. It’s not just when I feel like I’m falling short. Mom guilt shows up in times of joy, too. 

Mom guilt might sound like: 

“My baby is sleeping, but my best friend’s baby isn’t, and I feel guilty talking about it with her.”

“I love breastfeeding, but I feel guilty talking about it because I know so many people struggle with it.” 

“I should have started pumping earlier on. It’s my fault I don’t make enough milk for her.”

“I’m so stressed out working from home and taking care of my baby, but I feel guilty mentioning it because I GET to be home with her all day.” 

“I’m not giving my baby enough time.” 

“I shouldn’t have gotten so irritated today.”

“I shouldn’t have to ask for help all the time. Why can’t I just do this by myself?”

So, What Causes Mom Guilt?

If you haven’t figured it out by now, there are a million different things that might be causing a mom to feel guilty. Whether you’re comparing yourself to other moms, feeling bad about taking a break to practice self-care or feeling guilty for being able to do things that other moms can’t–the list is endless. 

Honestly, I blame society for a lot of it. Society makes moms feel like we should be smiling and holding the family together 24/7, and it’s unrealistic. It puts additional pressure on top of our already chaotic life. 

Sadly, the world we live in will continue pushing the super-hero mom agenda. That’s why it’s important for us to start recognizing the things that trigger mom guilt in us so that we can learn how to work through them and hopefully make them a thing of the past. 

some of the things that triggered mom guilt for me: 

Breastfeeding

I love breastfeeding. It’s one of the greatest things that I have ever experienced. But guess what? I feel insanely guilty talking about it. I know that a lot of moms aren’t able to breastfeed and talking about my glorious experience honestly makes me feel like a b*tch! Should it? No. Absolutely not. I’m not talking about it to rub it in anyone’s face, but I can’t help but feel guilty that I am able to have that connection with my daughter, knowing that others can’t. 

On the flip side, I know for a fact that many moms who aren’t able to breastfeed feel guilty, too! They feel guilty for not being able to provide milk to their babies or guilty about stopping for the sake of their mental health. Should they? Fu*k NO. Not being able to breastfeed or quitting breastfeeding does not make you a bad mom. But here we are, all feeling like we’re not enough! 

Working or Not Working…or Wanting to Work

Working as a mom has been the biggest cause of mom guilt for me. I work from home, and I honestly thought It would be a huge blessing to be home with my baby girl all day, but I’m quickly realizing that it’s not as easy as I anticipated. I might be here physically, but I can’t be present with her when I’m working, and it makes me feel like a sh*tty mom. 

I feel guilty setting her on her playmat by herself to work on my computer. But at the same time, I feel guilty when I take a day off because I need to provide for my daughter. And don’t even get me started about the guilt I feel when I WANT to go to work so I can get a break FROM my daughter. 

I know a lot of moms feel this way. Whether they work at home or in the office, spending time away from our babies, physically or mentally (even when we want it), can trigger a lot of heavy emotions.

Feeling Irritated and Overstimulated 

As much as I’d love to say that I’m cool as a cucumber, I’m filled with neurospicy struggles, lol. Getting irritated from overstimulation has been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. I knew that having a baby would be difficult, and honestly, it’s usually not her that overstimulates me. It’s the cumulation of everything going on at once that gets to me. 

The piling laundry, the dirty room, the cats needing attention, tending to my work, feeding myself, grocery shopping, relationships, and being a mom… you get the picture. It’s a lot! I’m not perfect, and I can’t handle it all with grace 100% of the time, no matter how hard I try. 

I know in my soul that these feelings are 100% normal, given the type of world we live in and the pressures we face, but I still feel guilty for entertaining them. When I get irritated, I feel like a bad mom, like I’m not trying hard enough, or maybe I’m not cut out to be a mom at all.

Missing Life Before Motherhood

The moment they place that baby on your chest, your whole life changes. And while I will undoubtedly believe that my life has changed for the better, I am, in a sense, grieving the person I was before motherhood. 

Sometimes, I miss what my life looked like before being a mom. I miss being able to get up and leave my house without thinking about diapers and feeding times and 5 million other things. I miss being able to spontaneously up and travel to random corners of the world. Yet, at the same time, I feel horribly guilty and ungrateful for having those thoughts. 

I find myself saying things like: “She should be enough. I should be grateful to be a mom.” 

Which is stupid because she IS enough, and I AM grateful to be a mom. 

I am allowed to miss my old life. That doesn’t mean I am ungrateful. But sometimes, I get caught up in the moment and start guilt-tripping myself into oblivion. I forget that I am allowed to feel two thoughts simultaneously yet independently. 

How Can I Overcome Guilt in Motherhood?

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: overcoming mom guilt isn’t an easy feat. And it’s likely something we will have to practice day in and day out for years to come. It’s not because we’re not strong enough. It’s because motherhood lasts a lifetime, and we will constantly face new challenges and opportunities to be hard on ourselves. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for overcoming guilt in motherhood. But the more we practice identifying the triggers and causes of our guilty feelings in motherhood, the easier it will be to put a stop to them. 

  • Identifying the underlying causes: A lot of the time, our mom guilt is actually the result of something that happened BEFORE the feeling itself. Whether your expectations are too high or you’re spending too much time comparing yourself to other moms–identifying the underlying causes of mom guilt is crucial. Next time you start feeling guilty, stop, take a deep breath and think about the things that led to that moment. Did you spend a lot of time on social media that day? Was it an argument you had with your partner? Has work been particularly overwhelming? Do you have enough support in the areas you need it?

  • Practice changing the narrative: Once you identify the root issues, you can start changing the narrative. Instead of blaming yourself for your guilty feelings, I want you to try validating them.

    “Okay, I feel like I didn’t do a good job at being a mom today, but I recognize that work was busier than normal, and I have been stressed from issues outside of motherhood. I am allowed to feel stressed without being a bad mom. I am doing my best, which is more than enough.

    If you enjoy positive affirmations, this would be a great time to implement them!

  • Accept that motherhood looks different for everyone: Yep! That’s right. The way you parent is going to be different from your best friends, your mom, your sister, and everyone else on the internet. You can read 10000 blogs and listen to endless podcasts, but your life is still going to look different. And different does not mean WRONG. 
  • Prioritize your time better: My mommy guilt started to get better when I stopped spreading myself too thin. Trying to juggle everything at once was stressing me out, so I started setting times of the day to do tasks, that way, I felt more present with my baby during our time together. The key is to avoid burnout before it hits! 
  • Ask for help: Honestly, most moms are undersupported in some way, shape or form. Your partner might help a ton physically, but maybe your emotional needs are struggling. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Or BOTH. My point is, if you’re feeling mom guilt and pressures from the world around you, there is room for more support! Asking for help is SO important. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Learning how to ask for help will only make you a better mama. 

Wrapping up…

All in all, mom guilt is like an uninvited guest in the journey of motherhood, showing up in all sorts of unexpected moments. Whether the cause is comparing ourselves to others or feeling torn between work and family, mom guilt can weigh heavily on our minds. 

The thing is, we don’t have to let mom guilt call the shots. We have the power to start dismantling the sh*tty system that has failed us as mothers. It’s time to start moving forward as a collective. It’s time to put our foot down and stop accepting that we have to feel like sh*t just because we’re moms. 

If nobody has told you this today, mama, YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB. You are 100% enough in every single way. You are a force to be reckoned with. And I’m proud of you. 

Disclaimer: The information on this blog is for general knowledge only and is not intended as medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance regarding your health or your child’s health. The authors are not medical professionals and reliance on this information is at your own risk.

Photos done by Melissa Morrow Photography.

Picture of Cydney Nelson

Cydney Nelson

Cydney Nelson is the Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Departed Creature. With a passion for authentic storytelling, Cydney shares her journey through mental health, pregnancy, travel and more. Her mission is to break stigmas, inspire and create a safe space where everyone can belong.

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Picture of Cydney Nelson

Cydney Nelson

Cydney Nelson is the Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Departed Creature. With a passion for authentic storytelling, Cydney shares her journey through mental health, pregnancy, travel and more. Her mission is to break stigmas, inspire and create a safe space where everyone can belong.

2 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Mom Guilt and 5 Ways to Overcome It”

  1. Allie Thornton

    Never related to an article so much! I honestly didn’t realize I was feeling so guilty 24/7. Excited to push out that guilt with your help!

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