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What is Mom Guilt? 5 Steps To Make Sure Moms Prioritize Self-Care

May 23, 2024

Is it a problem to care too much? 

For women — specifically mothers — it can be. 

A huge underlying inhibitor of personal growth for women around the world is mom guilt. 

But, what exactly is mom guilt? And how does it inhibit personal growth? 

Mom guilt is, well, exactly what it sounds like: a feeling of guilt mothers have in relation to the needs of their children. 

Typically, new mothers are more likely to suffer mom guilt being it their first go-around with raising a child. The newfound sense of responsibility becomes overwhelming — a new mom might put off self-care entirely in order to service the needs of her new baby. 

Mom guilt can also manifest from comparison. New mothers, or moms who have historically had a difficult time raising their kids, often compare themselves to moms who appear more “successful” at raising kids. For example, a working mom might feel guilty for not spending enough time with her kids, in comparison to a non-working stay-at-home mom. This can drive moms to prioritize over-involvement with their kids, and put off self-care. 

Either way, women around the world need to stop feeling guilty, unworthy, or not good enough, in order to improve mental well-being, physical, and emotional well-being. 

Mom guilt can negatively affect a woman’s health.

Like all new moms, we tend to overwork ourselves in the beginning to ensure the very best for our child. In turn, self-care takes a back seat. 

When I had my girls, I remember thinking my needs were irrelevant. For their first couple of years, all that mattered was their needs were met. Of course, this isn’t exclusive to moms — all parents struggle to find balance (especially with new kids). But new mothers tend to overcompensate — something I struggled with heavily in the beginning. 

As a result, my mental, physical, and emotional well-being declined. I put my girls ahead of myself entirely too much, losing copious amounts of sleep, not eating, not exercising as much as I wanted to, and so much more. I lost passion in my career choice, and felt like I hadn’t thought for myself since before they were born — something that was hard to come to terms with. 

When I first heard about mom guilt, I didn’t want to believe I experienced it. 

I felt empathetic toward people who I thought were experiencing mom guilt, until I started to notice I fit the criteria. 

Like most people, I had an existential crisis for a day or two before realizing I don’t have to continue on this path. I realized that to be the absolute best mom I can be to my kids, I need to take care of myself. Ultimately, it’s in my power to put me first — so that’s exactly what I did. 

I read up on ways to parent without over-parenting, how to teach my kids more independence, and learned to say “no” more. I found people to help with my kids to give myself more free time for me, which lead to major life changes in my career and in my relationships. I rediscovered old passions, started a business, found love again — all because I recognized mom-guilt was preventing me from leading the life I wanted to live. 

If you or someone you know are struggling with mom guilt, here are a few things you can do to find balance: 

  • Step #1: Plan out your week, and highlight all the areas of free time or downtime when your kids aren’t around, or when they’re asleep. 
  • Step #2: Highlight the amount of things you wrote down that are solely for YOU (if it’s zero, you have some work to do)!
  • Step #3: Make a list of personal goals. These can be things like start a side-hustle, lose 20 pounds, take online classes, read a book a week, meditate more — etc. 
  • Step #4: Identify which obligations or time blocked out for your kids that you can either (a.) scale back on or (b.) outsource to a family member, babysitter, trusted friend. 
  • Step #5: Commit to working-in YOU time by incorporating actionable steps toward your personal goals into your schedule. 

To be the best mom you can be for your kids, you need to be at your best self. And the only way you can do that is by committing to self-care, even if it means doing “less” for your kids. Remind yourself that taking care of YOU is just as important to being a good mom. 

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