Getting Over Mom Guilt

It seems like as soon as you become a mom, you start to feel bad about stuff. For me, the guilty feelings started as soon as I found out I was pregnant and I realized that I drank alcohol before I knew I was carrying a baby. For some moms the guilt starts when we make decisions during our baby’s birth because we’re not so sure they were the right ones. 

The thing about mom guilt is that anyone who calls themselves a mama, feels it. The weird part is that it doesn’t help us raise better kids. This has always fascinated me about the dynamics of motherhood: as a mom of four myself, I've wasted years feeling bad about stuff I couldn’t control.

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But first, what exactly is mom guilt?

Mom guilt is what we call the feelings that women experience in relation to their kids. Some experts think that mom guilt is more common with new moms, but I can confirm that it’s a feeling you carry with you until your kids are all grown up.

As moms, we both know what I’m talking about. Like I said it starts early and then it almost becomes a familiar feeling so it’s easier to be hard on yourself without even realizing it. That inner voice can be a little bitch and she said I was a bad mother for:

Things that have triggered my feelings of Mom Guilt 
-Not being able to deliver two of my kids vaginally
-Having difficulty breastfeeding and supplementing with formula
-Going to work and not being at home with the kids
-Staying at home and not working to help supplement the family financially
-Not making certain holidays magical enough
-Skipping pages in the bedtime story to get through it faster
-Sending my kids to school with crappy lunches
-Yelling at my teenagers



What causes mom guilt?

A lot of times, feelings of guilt can come from your own insecurities about raising kids. This is especially true if you didn’t have great role models when you were growing up. Some moms may feel a lot of pressure from family members who think they should be parenting differently. And finally, social media! It’s full of impossible standards that we moms should be keeping up with, and it’s bullshit.

A sneaky source of Mom Guilt

You know when you start taking your baby to the doctor for vaccinations and regular check-ups? During these visits, the doctor will go through a checklist of ‘milestones’ your baby should be passing. If your baby isn’t hitting them, you may start to feel like you’re not good enough as a mama. 

Please remember that babies all develop at their own speed so don't get caught up in the comparison trap of baby milestones. If your doctor isn't worried, you can probably relax. 


Can feelings of mom guilt lead to something more serious?

We’re only human, so a little bit of guilt is always going to be part of our motherhood journey. If you stop and think about what you’re feeling bad about, you may realize it’s a little bit of a push to make healthier choices for your kids. For instance, maybe you feel bad because your kids aren’t getting enough sleep, so you decide to make changes to their bedtime routine in an effort to make a positive change. There’s really nothing wrong with that and getting the kids to bed earlier is a win for you, too!

But what if the guilt is making you doubt some of the decisions you’ve made for you and your family?

After my second baby was born, we breastfed for about six months and I loved the close connection we had. But then I had to go back to work and switch him over to formula for daytime feedings. Every time my breastfeeding friend came over for playdates I would feel massive guilt about giving my baby a bottle of formula, while she was still breastfeeding. It got so bad that I didn’t want to hang out with her anymore and none of it was her fault- it was all about me feeling terrible.

If you feel mom guilt so hard that it’s creating anxiety for you, you need to chat with your doctor to rule out more serious mental health conditions.


Getting over mom guilt

You what they say- admitting you have a problem is the start to solving it!  That’s a great place to start with mom guilt. You’ve got to admit to yourself that you’re having a tough time feeling like you’re doing your best. (and remember- we all feel it from time to time so you're not alone)


Ask yourself a few questions to dig into the root cause

Once you admit it, ask yourself these key questions:

  • Am I trying to be a better parent than the ones I had growing up?
  • Am I trying to parent with a mental health disorder?
  • Have I always been a ‘perfectionist’?
  • Have I had past trauma that’s being triggered by parenting a child now?

If you answer these questions honestly, you're on your way to unlocking your personal truth as a mom and that's necessary to healing your feelings of guilt. It's also unbelievable freeing!


Make a mission statement

This may sound silly, but some families make a mission statement. But the truth is, I’m here for it because it means everything that the parents do is in alignment with their family mission. That can take a lot of pressure off of the decision you have to make as a mom.

What Is a Family Mission Statement?

“A family mission statement is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about — what it is you really want to do and be — and the principles you choose to govern your family life.

- Stephen Covey

How to Make a Family Mission Statement

Sit down with your family and discuss what your family is all about, make a list of your core values, decide on the most important values and write out your family's mission statement. Hang it somewhere that everyone can see it every day as a reminder.


Finding your village

There’s a quote that my husband always says to our kids,

"Show me your closest friends and I’ll show you your future"

The truth is that moms have to surround themselves with the right friends, too. Go back and consider your family’s mission statement: do you hang around other people with similar values? If you’ve got a friend that makes you question your abilities as a mom every time you chat, it’s time to find some distance until you’ve gained your confidence to speak up and create boundaries.

If you’ve been having a hard time finding your ‘people’, using a platform like MamaSoup can really help you connect to other moms!

When you’re facing really important decisions and you want to chat it out, make sure you’ve got someone that will listen instead of giving unwanted advice. If you don’t have a person like that, consider hiring a virtual mom coach like me! I'm always happy to have a quick Zoom to see if we should work together.


Go with your gut

When you hear your baby cry and you know it’s a different cry, trust your gut. When your kid isn't acting the same as usual but you can't pinpoint what it is, trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem quite right to you but you’re not sure what it is, tell your doctor. Never, ever underestimate the power of your mom's intuition because it doesn’t lie.


Expect push-back about your decisions from others

It’s gonna happen. There will always be people in your life that can’t keep quiet about how you show up as a mom and raise your kids. If something feels right for you and your kids, so be it. Learn how to protect yourself with sweet but firm clap-backs when your nosey relatives have an opinion. It’s healthy to have boundaries!


Please don’t be that mom

There’s nothing worse than mom bullies. But sometimes we have no idea that we're even doing it. If you're a step-ahead of another mom, please don't say things like:

“No offence, but…..”


"Oh you think it’s bad now? Just wait until _________!"

Instead, let's encourage other moms, whether they’re making the same choices as us or not. As long as they’re not hurting their children or themselves, we have to trust that they’re doing the best for themselves.

The truth is that I've been a mom for 31 years and I'm still screwing up. Everyone is having their own variation of the motherhood experience so let's stop comparing! None of us really knows what we’re doing, so let’s cheer each other on just for getting out of bed and showing up.


Final thoughts

If someone tells you that you’re doing a great job, believe them! Motherhood is hard so accept all the positive vibes coming your way.

Always question your feelings of mom guilt when they come up and try to work on overcoming them. You don’t want to look back on your motherhood journey and realize that you’ve got regrets. In the end, you’ll look at your kids all grown up and realize that the guilt did nothing to help raise them into the amazing people they are.

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Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup

Hey there, I’m Joanne.

I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!

As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.

Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!

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