Guilt-free guide to motherhood

8 minutes

‘There is no perfect way to be a mother and a million ways to be a good one.‘ – Jill Churchill

From Bollywood celebrities to mothers in the workforce to stay-at-home moms, one common factor is mom guilt. 

In those happiest moments you spend with your little one, staring into those starry eyes and listening to those cute giggles, a shadow lurks inside your mind – the unpleasant feeling of mom guilt. Mom’s guilt is not something that will fade away soon. Everywhere and everything serves as a reminder of it, from family functions to office meetings to even your Instagram, a constant reminder that you might not be doing your best as a mother.

Mom guilt is the worry or feeling a mother gets when she feels she is not living up to their own or other’s expectations of being a parent.

Here are some ways a mom guilt might seem like:

Nourish your child with love, not guilt

New mothers undergo a whirlpool of emotions. They are overwhelmed with family expectations and a whole idealized and romantic image of a mother. 

The first dilemma a mother is faced with is breastfeeding. Some say that breastfeeding is a must and healthy for the baby, while some go with using formula. Mothers when opting for different options are put under societal pressure saying breast is best.

Breastfeeding may not be an option for everyone, so it does not mean it’s harmful to your baby. So it’s time to stop feeling guilty. So instead of worrying, seek solace in the thought that “every feed counts”.

It is important to know that there might be many misconceptions about handling a newborn baby and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to mother and child care.

Boredom to Bliss

New moms can be guilty about experiencing feelings of boredom when they spend time with their children. They would like to spend time having adult conversations and not just talks revolving entirely around their baby. Maybe they would like to watch a couple of episodes of “The Breaking Bad” instead of watching Coco Melon for an entire day. 

New mothers might miss all the activities and hobbies they used to do before the birth, now that they have no time. This loss of self-identity coupled with the boredom of having to go through entirely child-centered talks can contribute to the mom’s guilt. Spending some ‘me time’ for yourself should not be a cause of concern or guilt.

Screen time struggles

Feeling guilty because your child spent a lot of time glued to the iPad or TV screen as you had to attend a meeting? 

It’s common for mothers to feel guilty when they resort to digital media as a distraction when they try to balance work and parenting responsibilities.

While it is important to moderate screen time, it is also important to use screen time as a practical distraction.

For instance, granting an extra 10 minutes of screen time allows you to complete your skincare routine without interruptions, offering a brief window of focused attention to your own needs.

Hand in Hand – Asking for help when raising a child

It takes an entire village to raise a child. Mothers can experience burnout when trying to handle multiple roles of being a mother, daughter, wife, and sister. It is almost impossible to raise a child single-handedly. Divided attention over many tasks and responsibilities can take a toll on our body and mind. Do not feel guilty to ask your near and dear ones for help.

In such instances, delegating tasks to your partner or taking a little help from grandparents can be a great help.

Stay at home or Office mom?

Many mothers encounter the dilemma of whether they should return to work or not. Leaving your child at a daycare or with their grandparents when you return to work may feel difficult especially when you yearn to spend more time with the child. 

Being a stay-at-home mom can also make you feel equally guilty. You may think you are not setting the right example by not going to work. 

The Time Dilemma

In India, mothers spend approximately 9 hours per week on childcare, which is lower than the average time spent by American mothers. Not spending time with their children weighs heavily on the consciousness of the mother’s mind. Maybe missing out on the important milestones of your baby when you are at work or skipping sports day might be worrying you. 

But fret not. You don’t need to spend all of your time with the little one. Taking some time for yourself and ensuring that quality time is spent with the child is the best way to bond. 

Handling the little human can sometimes get difficult or even out of control. With overwhelming emotions and pressures, a mother can feel guilty for not being the best version of a parent she wants to be. 

Here are some tips on how you can manage your mom guilt:

        A positive mindset is a must.

  •  A quick fix is taking a deep breath and trying to overthink the automatic thoughts that pop up in your mind.
  •  When things get tough, have a positive self-talk to reassure yourself.
  •  Empathy and self-compassion go a long way.
  • Set a ‘ me time ‘ in your schedule where you can opt for some self-care.

            Reframe your perspective

  • Set realistic goals of balancing parenting, work, and family responsibilities. 
  • Identify the source of problems that cause your mom guilt by using a journal. Once thoughts are put on paper, you will be able to recognize your irrational thoughts.

          Find yourself again

  • Becoming a mother is a milestone in your life and establishes a new identity for you. But remember who you are beyond motherhood. Schedule time to relax.
  • Create a time slot for yourself where you can pursue your interests and hobbies.
  • Set boundaries. Instead of becoming a “Yes Mom” by catering to every whim of your child, you can make them understand you have other responsibilities too. 

Avoid the bragging game

  •  Do not get into a comparison with other mothers. The parenting style of each mother is unique and so is yours.
  • Moderate the use of social media where you may come across posts that heap mom guilt on you and amplify negative feelings. Reducing your interaction time with social media handles can help you focus more on your present situation. 
  • Spend more quality time with your child rather than worrying about the quantity of time you have spent.

Identify your supports

  • Communicate with your partner when struggling with guilt. Let them know ways they can help you.
  • Listen to your children and intuition. Go with your heart and mind, and make decisions you feel would be right for your child in that situation. 
  • When faced with overwhelming feelings and emotions that you are finding difficult to handle, professional help is always available. Do not shy away from seeking professional support that can guide you in the right way to become a better you and a better mother.

Try to be a mother who strives for goodness and balance instead of aiming for perfection. Do not feel guilty about preconceived notions, irrational thoughts, and societal pressures and expectations. Celebrate life and the essence of motherhood in the truest sense.

‘Your kids don’t want a perfect mom, they want a happy one.’

Team YourDOST

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