Perhaps you’ve heard the term “Mom guilt” before. It’s the nagging feeling that despite all of your best efforts, you are somehow falling short with your duties as a parent.
Moms are juggling more now than ever before. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 72.9%* of moms with kids under the age of 18 worked outside of the home in 2022.
Yet there’s still an expectation that they should be able to manage the children, the home, and the emotional wellbeing of the family as a whole. For single moms or families with limited outside support, this pressure becomes even more unbearable.
As a mental health therapist, I am constantly telling parents, and moms in particular, that they truly are doing the best they can. The guilt that parents feel about not having enough time and energy for their children is a very valid feeling because of course you want to be the best parent you can be and give your children the best upbringing possible.
Here’s three things I tell parents to put that guilt into perspective.
Cure the “Shoulds”
Telling yourself you “should” be doing more or you’re not doing a good enough job just makes it harder to recognize where you are doing a great job.
I try to encourage patients that for every task they feel they’re failing at with their kids, try to identify one that they’re doing well (and if they can find more than one, bonus points to them!)
Most of the time, parents are surprised by how many things they realize they’re actually doing well when they focus their attention on the bigger picture.
Show Them Balance
Children are resilient, and seeing parents model balancing work and home life is an excellent early learning opportunity.
I encourage parents when they notice that gut-tightening feeling of guilt when they can’t attend their child’s sporting event, or they’re too tired to go play outside, remind yourself that there are so many other ways you are showing up for your child.
It is a normal experience to want to do it all but it’s also just as normal to have to balance your priorities and sometimes put something down so you can focus on picking something else up.
Seek Out Support
Remember, you’re not alone if you’re feeling that all-too-common guilt. Parents everywhere are doing their best in today’s busy and complicated world. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s always okay to ask a loved one or friend for help, or reach out to a mental health therapist. We can assist with strategies to maintain perspective and be the best parent you can be. In addition, the Nebraska Children’s Home Society has great resources for parents and grandparents raising grandkids, as well as for pregnancy and early childhood at NCHS.org.