Sometimes moms need to restore balance
Do you ever feel something niggling at you that is bringing you down? If it has to do with your kids, it’s probably the dreaded mommy guilt. We all feel it. It sneaks up when we let our amazing mom standards slip and take a shortcut, like packing a school lunch with nothing but an apple and a bag of chips, letting your son play hours of video games, or cancelling a Saturday afternoon play date because you’re tired after a hard week of work. But here’s the thing—that’s just life. And there’s no such thing as perfection when it comes to parenting.
Mom guilt is defined in a number of ways, but the general theme is a feeling that you are not giving your all or doing enough for your kids. Almost every mom experiences mom guilt. For some women, it’s pervasive. For others, it’s fleeting.
At the core, mom guilt is simply a sign that life is out of balance, and that mothers are not getting their own needs met. By trying to constantly manage their kids’ lives so that they have the best possible life, mothers often forget about their own. So when we, as moms, temporarily slip into mediocrity we should take it as a sign that we need a break more than a sign that we are not good mothers.
Another sign that we need to readjust and put ourselves first, for once, is feeling annoyed at our kids, overwhelmed by our daily schedules, or unappreciated. When you feel that way take a step back and as yourself, “What do I need to restore a feeling of balance?” Whatever pops in your mind first is likely the right answer. Then, be firm and let your family know that you will be taking time to do just that. Or, if it’s more of a feeling like your life is not your own and no one is recognizing all the sacrifices you make, get honest. Tell your partner that you need more support. Even a simple solution like getting them to agree to cooking a few extra meals a week or doing the dishes more regularly helps a ton. We moms need to feel valued for all of our hard work.
And it’s okay to say to your kids, “When you (leave dirty dishes laying around, walk in with muddy shoes, etc.) I feel (ignored, disrespected, unheard). And when you (put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher, take off your shoes) I feel (respected, happy). I know you can do a better job in the future on your own, and you don’t need me to nag you. So thanks.” Then praise the heck out of them when they actually get it right.
Here’s another thing. Kids don’t need to be enrolled in five different activities to be happy. Mostly, they need time with you to connect, talk, play and listen. Bring balance to your life by picking just two, or even one, sport or activity per child at a time. If you end up with free time, fill it with relaxed family activities. Remember, downtime is not bad time. We all need to recharge. If your kids start relying too much on screens to unwind, set limits and dig out your old board games or toys from childhood, or challenge them to come up with a game or activity that you can all play together once you’ve had a rest.
So go forth and remember this mantra—there’s no such thing as perfection in parenting. Try your best and know that sometimes mediocrity is just fine. After all, you are simply human. And so is every other mom that you meet. As moms, let’s remember that we factor into the equation of family wellbeing, and that it’s okay to meet our own needs (even if it means our kids don’t always meet theirs), we will be happier and healthier—and our kids will, too.
Lynn U Nichols is a longtime Fort Collins-based freelance writer who specializes in health and wellness content. She raised two boys while writing for RM Parent Magazine, gratefully applying the wisdom she gleaned from interviews with child experts along the way. Learn more at healthwritecommunications.com.