Mom Guilt: How to Survive it and Grow from it
Today’s guest blogger is a past birth client of ours, Nicole Vega, LMSW, CHC. Nicole is a fully licensed clinician and certified health coach. Nicole received her Master’s in Clinical Social Work in 2012 from Western Michigan University and became certified as a health coach in 2016. Her work is founded on the principle that individuals are the experts of their own lives, and therefore their own best healers. Nicole believes it is her role to establish a safe therapeutic space where she can assist her clients in focusing on their strengths and uncovering the tools needed to address what is causing them discomfort and stress in their lives; which may be manifesting as anxiety, depression, weight gain or other obstacles.
Today’s blog is going to focus on the guilt that many mother’s feel. Although both parents can experience feelings of guilt, it seems to be more prominent in mothers, but these tips are beneficial to all parents.
If you are a mother, or an expectant mother, it is likely that you’ve experienced at least some degree of “mom guilt”. In an article from BabyCenter.com, Top 7 mommy guilt trips – and how to handle them, the author describes mom guilt as something a whopping 94% of moms admit to having experienced. Mom guilt does not pick and choose who it affects and it does not simply affect stay-at-home moms, or working moms, or those who juggle life somewhere in between. It affects nearly every mom!
To the parents reading this today who are currently experiencing guilt, or who have in the past, please know this; you are doing enough; odds are you are doing more than enough.
So what is mom guilt exactly? Mom guilt often presents as that sinking feeling we as moms have when we think we are not doing enough for our children. That “I wish I could afford all organic everything, cook every meal from scratch, and not miss a moment of my children’s life” type of thoughts. That feeling of not being “enough” for your children. In some circumstances, mom guilt can even turn into anxiety or depression. The good news for all you moms/parents reading this today is there are ways to decrease these feelings of not being enough. As a mother of two myself, I can completely relate to mom guilt in its many forms. Though I do not believe you can eliminate all feelings of guilt related to parenting, I do believe you can find great ways to cope and to make the moments in which you experience this type of guilt less daunting.
So here is my go-to list of ways to combat mom guilt; but remember, for these tips to work you have to actually use them and implement them as much as possible on the days, weeks, and months when mom guilt has you struggling the most.
Tip #1: FIND YOUR TRIBE: Find a group of people to support you during these long days but fast flying years. Think of the expression you’ve probably heard a million times, “It takes a village”. Well, it does take a village. This group will look different for everyone. It maybe a group you create at church, with mothers from your children’s school, work friends, or maybe even people within your family. The amazing thing here is that you get to design this group and determine who will be a part of your tribe. It really is a beautiful thing, and is vital to getting through the trappings of mommy guilt.
Tip #2: DEVELOP YOUR OWN SELF-CARE TOOLKIT: There are about a million different articles and posts on what self-care is, or what people believe it “should be”. I, however, have come to understand that self-care is different for everyone. I have seen this in my own life and as a clinician and certified health coach working directly with other women. I think often we see self-care as having to be elaborate, when in reality, that just simply is not an option for the majority of moms. So finding simple things you can do that truly work for you is key. Your tool kit may include having consistent date nights with your spouse/partner, developing a yoga practice, taking a relaxing epsom salt bath, or maybe something as simple as having 10 minutes a day to read a book you love. This toolkit will require some trial and error, and in many cases require you to ask for help from others, but hey since you’re going to find a nice tribe to become a part of, you’ve now got a ton of built in babysitters just a call away!
Tip #3: FIND A FORM OF MOVEMENT THAT YOU LOVE: Similar to your self-care toolkit, finding movement that you love will require some trial and error, but once you find what works, it’s a game changer! Healthy-healing movement can be a number of things: dance, martial arts, yoga, kickboxing, running, walking, barre, or cycling. All these are just a few great options to choose from. An amazing thing about being a parent today, is we have access to so many great options of movement, many of which you can do from the comfort of your own home (some of which are completely free). When I’m working with clients as a coach (who have been cleared for adding movement into their routine) I begin by asking them what types of movement they enjoyed before it became about “weight loss” or “having to workout”. I do this because participating in movement that you actually enjoy creates a mindset shift, which in turn creates a shift in your body. It has taken me many years to find what “my movement” is, and I am still surprised to say that for me it’s yoga. I am surprised because when I was much younger I used to despise yoga and found it boring. I now have learned that yoga may not always be exciting for me, but it is always healing.
Now I could offer a few more tips in this article, but I find that once you give more than three, people become overwhelmed and have difficulty even choosing one to incorporate into their lifestyle, at least initially. As a certified health coach and therapist who works primarily with women (many of which being mothers) one-on-one I am able to help women learn to implement the tools I mentioned here, as well as, assisting them in developing more. My goal is to help my clients move forward feeling empowered in their role as a mother and less overwhelmed by it.
If you are feeling like you are experiencing more than just infrequent episodes of mom guilt and are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or in a state of anxiety over the many hats you wear as a parent, I’d love to help! As a health coach and therapist, I create my sessions and programs to meet your needs, so you can achieve your goals. I am driven by a person-centered focus when working with clients, rather than a specific model of care. I can see clients both locally in my office or via tele-health services.
If you are in a stage in life where you would like to investigate therapy or coaching, you can contact me directly at http://healthforlifegr.com/experts/nicole-vega/ .