COLUMN: What is mom guilt and how can I manage it?

COLUMN: What is mom guilt and how can I manage it?


Every mom knows the guilt that is associated with trying to be everything for everyone.

I attended Modern Zulu Mom’s first Mama Mingle event of the year this past Saturday. As moms shared their experiences and challenges in their parenting journeys, one emotion was common: Mom guilt.

A lot of moms shared how challenging it is to balance parenting, relationships, and careers. We wonder if we are doing it right, but we also feel like we are not spending enough time with our children.

Generally, society has set an expectation that women are supposed to be superwomen. You are meant to show up in whichever space you operate in. Whether it be home, work or relationships, you are constantly expected to be at your best.

This is unrealistic and almost impossible.

Mom guilt is not only reserved for working moms who return to work after their maternity leave has ended.

It can happen as early as post-birth. Moms who can’t breastfeed their children can be easily subjected to mom guilt. Society states that ‘breast is best’ meaning everything else is not good enough.

The basis of the guilt, thus, is not only because moms feel like they are not at home enough due to work. It is also experienced by moms who feel like they are not doing enough for their kids.

Parenting can get complicated.

You spend too much time with your child, you are coddling them.

You are spending less time with your child, you are neglecting them.

You choose to be at home with your child, you are lazy.

You choose to go back to work after maternity leave, you are abandoning your child.

Moms everywhere are so scared of being judged, thus they feel the need to always show up. We can’t do self-care days or buy things for ourselves due to the fear of feeling like we are letting our kids down.

Some women decide that their careers should take the backseat if they keep them away from the family for too long, or require them to travel often. Our journeys are filled with a lot of anxiety and chaos, but the guilt heightens our frustrations and deprives us of seeing the beauty in the journey.

Society cannot dictate to us how we are meant to raise our children, particularly because our journeys may be similar, but are different. So every mom should do what they feel works for their family.

Choose your battles, mama. You cannot live in a tidy house, with a home-cooked meal every day, looming work deadlines and demanding children. Accept that it is impossible, and do what you can.

Candy of Connected Wellbeing recommends that it is pivotal to change your perspective as a mom with regards to your tasks. Instead of thinking “I have to do the children’s homework when I get home”, you change that to “I GET TO do to the children’s homework when I get home”. The latter cultivates a habit of gratitude as a lot of couples can’t have children and would love to do homework. This makes tasks more bearable and you undertake them joyously.

You then learn to appreciate your job because you get to do what you love and bring money into the home. You can even appreciate your traveling as you get to see the world and share those stories with your children as they grow older.

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