Overcoming Mom Guilt

Episode #139

Do you struggle with mom guilt? Most of us do. Whether we’re a stay at home mom, working mom or empty nester we all have experienced it at one time or another. Today we share some personal stories as well as steps you can take to beat that mom guilt so you can rise up and shine and live confidently and peacefully.


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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

This is episode 139 – Overcoming Mom Guilt.

You’re listening to the Rise Up and Shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley as an empty nester and a mom with young kids. We have both shared very similar and very real struggles from chaos to coaches. We now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So, tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. This is the Rise up and Shine podcast.

Hey everyone. Welcome back here to another episode today on this wonderful Wednesday in summer. Claudine and I hope you’re having a wonderful summer. How’s your summer going, Claudine?

So far, so good. Can come fast, is it going fast? It’s going it’s going really fast. I feel like it started last week.

I know. So today listeners, we are going to talk about something that hits all of us, all of us moms and this is something that affects stay at home moms.

This is something that affects working moms, everybody. And what I’m talking about is mom guilt. Everybody knows what that is. I’ve heard of mom guilt. Oh my gosh, I’ve talked with so many moms who have struggled with this. We just think it’s part of life. It’s part of being a mom and it is true to an extent. However, if we are not careful, it can really take over our lives, it can steal our peace, our joy, our confidence, being able to be present with our kids, our family. So, this is something that both Claudine and I have even worked through, and Claudine is an empty nester. So, she has kind of gone over to the other side and her kids are grown and she doesn’t feel as much mom guilt. I am in the thick of it still. Yeah, it is definitely still something that rears its ugly head. However, learning the tools on how to manage this guilt that we feel that just seemed to happen. Like, like I would say, I just burst guilt. You know, mom guilt when I birthed my Children, it was part of the package, but there is something we can do about it, right?

There’s something we can do about. So, we can thrive as moms and enjoy life and enjoy time with our families and really live life to the full Yeah, absolutely. It is something that I certainly struggled with for years and just to be to clarify what mom guilt is. It’s and we’ve all felt it like you said, but it’s that feeling that you’re not doing enough as a parent or you’re not doing things, right? Or maybe some decisions that you’ve made, you’re going to mess up your kids in the long run, right? I mean, we’ve all gone through that, Do I make them do chores or not make them do chores? Do I pay them money for the chores or not pay them, you know, and for us when our kids were younger, it was definitely a different generation. And so, there were things that were real limited, like our kids weren’t allowed to watch movies above PG you know, there were certain decisions we made even till they were like almost out of the house. I mean we were like a little bit Yeah, and I remember we didn’t let our son um we didn’t let our kids actually any of them, but our son wanted to go to this one little dance, The other kids didn’t really care so much, but and we wouldn’t allow that.

We didn’t at the time we thought this is better for him, this is a better decision. And then mom guilt pops and you’re like, did I just mess up my kids for the rest of their life? I remember joking years ago, I’m like all four of my kids could go on Oprah and do a couple episodes each on all the, you know, all the ways mom and dad messed him up. So that’s mom guilt. Just that feeling that it’s not enough, it’s not good enough or inadequacy. And am I really messing them up long term? And guilt is a normal emotion, that’s part of the human experience, it is very normal. So, we’re not saying, oh the goal is to never feel guilt. That’s just unrealistic. That is part of human nature, but there is a point that we just want to be careful and that’s why we’re doing this episode because mom guilt is not the normal guilt we might feel, say I snapped at my kids man, I messed up, let me apologize and rectify the situation. But mom guilt can be ongoing and ongoing and really it can cause a lot of damage to ourselves, even in our relationships with our kids, our spouse and in our bodies as well.

I mean guilt is one of those emotions that release stress hormones. And so, when the stress hormones are released, it can give us backaches, headaches, it can definitely affect our immune system, our digestive issues. It can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as gastrointestinal disorders and anxiety and depression. That was a huge one for me, anxiety and depression was big, but if we’re not careful, it really is a detriment to our health and again our relationships, right? And are we going to look back and think, wow, like I enjoyed the time with my kids know sometimes when we have this mom guilt, it takes that joy away and we’re so busy doing or worrying or ruminating on how I might be messing up. My kids are doing all these things wrong. So we just want to address this because this is huge and it really affects most moms, if not all moms at one time or another and there is a little healthy dose of like I think, you know, there are times if I just let my kids watch tv all day through the summer for weeks at a time, I probably should feel a little tiny bit of just to help motivate me to get them outside to get them out of nature to do something, you know, more productive, do some art, read a book.

So not that I ever let my kids do that all the time, but there were times where they probably over watch television because honestly it was easier for me, don’t judge me today. We’re recording in the summertime. My kids are downstairs, this is your chill time guys. This is only because Claudine and I are working. Yes, that’s right. So, a little tiny, tiny bit of guilt doesn’t hurt because that helps motivate a change in our behavior. But when we get stuck in guilt, that’s where all the problems like the things you just listed off, it can be really bad and you’re really good at being aware of your feelings in the body. And you mentioned some, and I was always kind of oblivious to what was going on in my body, but I could tell by my actions because then I would like snap, I’d be really short with my kids or I’d, you know. Yeah, yeah, just really irritated, frustrated. Yeah. It would show up in my behavior is how I treated my family. I was like, oh, something’s going on here. So, I’m not, I wasn’t in the years, I was planting my young Children as in tune with how my body was feeling, that’s kind of your strength and something you’ve learned, and you really excel at.

But for me, I could tell from my actions, I’m like, okay, I’m not coming from a place of peace and honestly, as parents, we want a parent from love and peace and faith and not from a place of guilt because we know negative emotions do not produce positive results, right? Yeah. You know, and as you were mentioning, I’ve become more aware of how stress or shame or guilt affects my body. This is because I went through a trauma course and I learned a lot about identifying our emotions and how they feel in our body because it’s physical, right? It’s this physical sensation we feel inside of our bodies. It’s very physiological. So, guilt. For me it can show up kind of varying ways, but for me, I would get the muscle tension, especially my neck and my shoulders and because it’s stress, right? Mom really has just added stress on our bodies and so, and I would feel jittery and kind of, you know, like anxious, just running a little fidgety, you know, that feeling, if you were like wired on caffeine, perhaps, um just feeling jittery and unable to focus my mind would just be racing on a whole bunch of things.

I can’t pinpoint, you know, what are we doing today? I don’t know, I just, I just felt kind of like a mess, but really the jittery was one and the muscle tension, but I would recognize that and then I would be able to label the emotion to it because for me I had a harder time identifying the emotion before. What was I feeling in my body? It was showing up in my body somehow and that’s what emotions do we feel it in our body somehow. And so, then I was saying, hey, I feel guilty. What am I feeling guilty about and just kind of question and ask myself, you know, what the situation going on right now? What are my thoughts, what am I focused on? Um what could be causing this mom guilt and some common things that can make us feel guilty are our own needs or needing some self-care. Working away from the home perhaps time away from the kids, especially when they were younger. This was big for both my husband and um even others’ opinions or perspectives of our parenting choices, trying to balance it all.

That’s a huge one like you said, I mean we try and balance the homework, Children, cleaning dinners, travel all the things we try and manage that can definitely cause a lot of mom guilt as well as and are we having enough quality time with the kids or as you mentioned, screen time? Too much time perhaps. Um, and also a lack of patience and a big one is, which is kind of funny, but it’s actually true is we can feel guilty for not feeling guilty. I know there are times where I’ve, you know, I wasn’t really feeling guilty and then you’re like, wait a minute, wait a minute. I started thinking of all these things to feel guilty. Like I should feel guilty, right? Mind bad mom or something, but I’m not feeling guilty about this. So, it’s kind of funny. But that is actually a common one that comes up for a lot of us moms. I think we could find dozens of reasons to feel guilty about. I mean, I think that some of us that’s our nature, we can just feel guilty about all kinds of things.

And it’s funny as you were talking. I thought, what did I feel most guilty with when my kids were and it was every time I lost my patients, right? That was a big one for me, which ties back into I stressed I had way too much on my plate at times. And so, then I would snap at my children inappropriately. And that’s what I would feel guilty about. Like if I yelled or screamed. I think that’s pretty common with a lot of moms. You know, you, you can be kind and gentle, you know, let your gentleness be evident to all and I can do that for a while. And then that’s it. I blow my top and unfortunately my husband and kids are the recipients of me losing it and I would feel so much guilt about that goes back to, I think, you know, I think they’re going to be traumatized for life because mom yelled at them and you know, grounded them inappropriately. I’m messing them up. They’re never going to recover. So, I am on the other side, so they do recover and go on to have healthy adult lives just so you know, it’s okay. Like we didn’t damage them. Even the mistakes, we make mistakes. Also, what I found with myself is that when I would get frustrated or snappy or lose patience with the kids a lot of times it was because there is an unmet expectation for example, being on time places, making sure you have your shoes when you get in the car.

You know, all these things that to us to grown up minds, think very rational when your kids, they’re still in training, right? If you think about, hey, my kids are in training, they’re going to mess up, they’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to forget things. Um, I think with the forgetfulness I’m much more patient with because I myself am very forgetful, but we have certain expectations right obey the first time or when I tell you to turn the tv off, just turn it off with a great attitude and a smile. You know, you’re going to like every dinner I make and not complain or anything. I mean a lot of those little things just add up and when we have these expectations that they’re not meeting then. Of course, we’re going to run frustrated and snap at them. It just goes with the territory. Yeah. So actually, let’s share a few practical with our listeners because we’re all going to experience mom guilt at some time. And again, a little tiny bit of it might help motivate us to change some unhealthy behaviors, but overall, we do not need to be stuck in mom guilt. We want to show up as the best version of ourselves from a place of love and peace like I’ve said before so that we can really be present with our kids and really just love them.

Okay, so first one, as I kind of mentioned earlier, listen to your body, listen to your body and listen to your thoughts. So again, emotions manifest physically in our body right there, vibrations in our body. And so if you can recognize even where in your body it’s occurring, you will be able to identify what you’re feeling, what emotion you’re feeling and being able to label your emotion is so powerful because then you can really go to your thoughts because our thoughts are the driving force for our emotions then also to our actions. So, if we can recognize in our body what we’re feeling, label the emotion and then go into our mind and say, hey, what am I thinking about here? What am I getting frustrated about? Or what am I losing my patients about? Or you know, where am I feeling guilt? Um, you know, what is the situation that’s occurring that’s causing me to feel that and that is really powerful. Really, really powerful first step. Yeah. And that’s really good that you said pay attention to your body and your thoughts, right?

And for me, I think when my kids were young, I was kind of oblivious so I could take you from how I reacted my reaction. So, my behavior that for me would cue me in, Oh, something’s not quite right. So, I need to dig a little deeper here. What’s going on in my feeling stressed and my feeling guilt and my feeling. What is it? I’m feeling so dig deep, so awareness to body thoughts and our actions. Sometimes those give us a great window into what’s going on. Absolutely.

The second one is don’t compare and I have to say amen, I didn’t have that. We didn’t really have that back then. You know, 20-30 years ago, not literally not in my face, but even that, 20-30 years ago, there was it was so mild and different in um I look at now. I look at today and see social media, which has a lot of blessings like Pinterest. I mean you can, you don’t have to create clever anymore. You can just copy clever. I love that part of it. But all these women, I think, oh my gosh, how would have this affected me when I was raising my kids?

If I saw these women “doing it perfectly” because I was a perfectionist. So, for me, anything less than perfection is um I fell short, so there was a lot of guilt there. Like I’m not doing this exactly right, right. But I didn’t have that comparison things. So really avoid comparing, which if it’s a trigger for you, identify your triggers, but comparison will almost always um make us not feel very good to mom guilt. You see all these women doing all these amazing kids things with their kids and it’s like I’m just trying to get out of the, get out of bed and make dinner and you know, not lose one of them and I was always like, just try not to lose one of them. I have four of them. Are they all here? Did I forget someone? Somewhere like that was a good day. They’re all home. They ate a meal for dinner all in bed. We had a good day well and you know, also with, especially with social media, there are times where we can handle it. There’s going to be times where we can, I mean, I know I’m more triggered when I’m tired or it’s that time of the month.

So just be aware of that if you know, kind of how you’re feeling. I’m not feeling great right now, that might not be the time to go search Pinterest or scroll your social media for an hour or you know, just really be intentional on your choices there. Absolutely.

The third one is to reevaluate your expectations. And what I mean by this is for yourself because for moms we tend to feel like we need to do everything right. We need to do everything perfect. We need to have it all together. And so, when we’re not, when we’re falling short, when we’re tired, when our kids aren’t clean, when the house isn’t clean, when I don’t know what I’m making for dinner, all those little things that are imperfect and just part of life, we can get really down about it. And we take it very personal as telling on us like it’s reflecting us as moms and it’s not. But just understand that what is my expectation of myself? Are they too high? Are they unrealistic?

Am I having grace on myself? Am I forgiving myself? Do I feel like I need to do everything perfect? And we tend to, we tend to think we need to do everything perfect and we’re not going to mess our kids up and we have it all together and we’re balancing everything with a big smile on our face and a bow in our hair, but we don’t have to, it’s okay, take that pressure off.

Yeah, it’s interesting because as an empty nester with adult children, some of the expectations that I have to reevaluate are those I have of my adult children and that’s where mom guilt can set in for me. Because now they’re grown and then maybe they make choices or decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with. So, the guilt that I have to fight is oh my gosh, I didn’t teach them that or I should have done a better job than they would have made that decision. That was big for me when they first started becoming adults and I had to realize a couple of things, One with those expectations. I’d realized they had free will as well, which is really hard when your kids are adults to give them the free will that God so graciously gives us right? Go fly, little birdie.

I know it’s hard, but don’t do that fly, but don’t do that, that that or that right? So, we’re not really giving them free will. And secondly, another thing that really helped me really helped me with mom guilt was I love that scripture. It says, “show each other deep love, for love covers a multitude of sin.” And so, when I would start feeling guilty and feel like I really there was a lot of shortcomings um in my parenting then I think, but I love them, and I can continue to love them. And that gave me a lot of peace like okay, this I can do, I can show them love and that covers a lot of my shortcomings, right? Doesn’t cover theirs but it covers mine if I continue to love them. So that really helped me find some peace there because it doesn’t give doesn’t always go away and like you said, our kids make decisions and we think it reflects on us, but it doesn’t right. It doesn’t reflect on me, although people, especially if you’re in a Christian community sometimes, you know, we can be a little judgmental of one another and then it can feel like they’re judging me because my kids, you know. My husband went through that because we had a couple of kids that were not the compliant, straight and narrow kids.

They were a little bit more on the, I don’t know, free at heart, free spirit inside. And so, we would get talked to because I think people were concerned about our parenting and they would spend time with us and spend time with our kids and they’re like, well we think everything’s okay, but we’re just not understanding what’s going on here. But that that triggered a lot of guilt for me because everyone else’s expectations, two of our kids, our own expectations, their expectations and we’re like none of it was matching up. So, then I felt, I personally felt a lot of guilt with that. Like I should have done a better job well and some people will give their input. How do we take it? Some people can be, you know, just opinionated and they’re really sharing their experience, right? And what they see, but you take it with a grain of salt and that might be a trigger, there might be people in your life that trigger that. So, it might be time to have those conversations or set boundaries.

Amen. I love that.

The last, number 4 final one, manage our minds.

If you’ve been familiar with our podcast, we talk about this all the time. Our mindset is so huge to manage our mindset. Like we said, our thoughts drive our emotions which drive our actions. And so, when we are focused on what we’re thinking about, what thoughts are popping up, how we’re feeling about ourselves, our expectations. Am I comparing all these things? Just discover, you know, just kind of get curious and find out what you’re focusing on what you’re thinking about and really how you view yourself as a mom because you can’t change anything if you don’t know where you are. And so being able to manage our minds and a huge one is to combat this. Um to combat mom guilt is to limit the negative talk. This is huge, right? The negative talk. If you take some time and really listen to what you’re talking about in your own head, you will find that you are the mean girl in your head. There’s that voice in there, we are so hard on ourselves, so hard on ourselves we are our worst critic, we’ve heard that all the time.

But if you take the time to really listen to what is going on in your head, it’ll blow your mind. Wow, I would not talk to my kids that way. I would not talk to my best friend that way. Why am I talking this way towards myself? So, being able to manage your mindset and try to give yourself grace and forgiveness and don’t let the comparison also just steal your joy, your peace and give this mom guilt.

Absolutely as you were talking about managing our minds and our thoughts and reminded me of Isaiah 26 3, it says “you will keep in perfect peace, all who trust in you all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”

And that was like I shared earlier, I had to go back to the scriptures to get my mind set properly because left to my own devices, I can go negative really quickly, right? That’s my nature. I’m a half-empty glass kind of gal. And so, I really needed to get some key scriptures to help deal with that mom guilt to help me find new thoughts that I could renew my mind and transform my life.

So, I didn’t have to get stuck in guilt. And so that’s really important. Find a few scriptures. Find a few quotes, find something that really encourages you and inspires you so that you can manage your mind. You can be gentle with yourself. And when those thoughts pop up, correct them right away with your new thought and improved thought. That doesn’t lead to mom guilt.

Alright, everyone. Well, we hope you’ve got a few tidbits, a few nuggets today to help you if you’re struggling with mom guilt because that is no place to be stuck. And as life coaches, Ashley and I help our clients really overcome mom guilt and find a place of peace and purpose and joy and love.

So, if you are needing additional support to overcome your mom guilt, please visit us at MindOverChaos.com or ClaudineSweeney.com. We both have free resources there and we’re always here to help until next time. Take care. Alright everyone, thank you for joining in on our conversation today here on the Rise Up and Shine podcast.

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