Fall is definitely in the air. The view from my home office window paints a portrait of orange, red, gold, and yes, even a little green to remind me that summer has not completely left me. Thanks to the warm weather we’ve had here in Connecticut, even my summer flowers are hanging on to the bitter end.
But even as the seasons change, some things never change, especially when it comes to parenting. What has been the topic du jour in my conversations with moms as of late? Mommy guilt.
It’s everywhere – from time-out chairs to office chairs to movie-set chairs. It seems this little demon just does not want to leave us alone.
We feel guilty if we work away from home. We feel guilty if we stay at home and are bored. We feel guilty if we take thirty minutes to work out or get a manicure or take a shower.
Why do moms feel so guilty? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, here is the official definition of guilt:
- Responsibility for a crime or for doing something bad or wrong
- A bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong
Now I understand why we all feel so guilty! We’re all criminals deserving of punishment with no chance of parole. Come on now, really?
Taking care of yourself is not a crime. Saying “no” to activities you have no time for is not a crime. Not wanting to host Thanksgiving for thirty people is not a crime.
Here’s the crime. Putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own. Making sure other people are taken care of but you are left neglected and empty.
When did this become the credo for mommy-hood? When you gave birth, did someone hand you a prescription for guilt with a note to take a daily dose for as long as you live? I don’t think so.
Guilt is a waste of time. It serves no one. Not you, not your children, not even the person for whom you feel guilty. We are not born with guilt. We learn it, whether it be from our parents, teachers, or whomever. So if it’s learned, it can be un-learned, right?
How? Simple. Follow these three steps and kick your guilt demon to the curb.
- Recognize you have an issue with guilt. (Remember, the first step of solving any problem is to admit you have one.)
- Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made in the past that brought on this guilt complex. You’re not the only mother who fed their kids Cheerios for dinner because you forgot to go to the grocery store. It’s no big deal.
- Make a decision that you are not going to let guilt run your life any longer. Write this down. Put sticky notes that say “No Guilt!” all over your house if you have to. Make this your mantra and practice it every day.
Do you know why I don’t feel guilty any more? Because I actually developed and I practice these three steps regularly. I also recognized that if I am doing the best job I can, there’s nothing for me to feel guilty about.
And believe me, as a single parent with a full-time job, guilt would love to have a party with me. But I won’t let it. Neither should you.
Start your own ‘guilt-free zone’ today!
Jen’s Gem: You were not born with guilt. Don’t live with it either.