I don’t think there’s a day where I don’t feel the pang of mom guilt. More so than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic has my guilt worsened, most likely due to having to compromise my parenting style to adjust to lockdowns and limitations to resources. Pre-2020 I was always the parent that prided myself with being very conscious with screen time, and prior to the pandemic by kids barely watched TV. Fast-forward one year of perpetual lockdowns and my kids are Peppa obsessed. I often feel guilty that I’m not craftier or more creative with time but have slowly come to terms with the challenges the pandemic has created for parents and acknowledging we’re all in survival mode. However that still doesn’t erase that ever slight pang I feel when my kids are demanding to watch Peppa Pig for the millionth time.
Mom guilt is real and is often described as the persistent feeling that you’re not doing things right, not doing enough and the fear of messing up your child and their future. These feelings can be related to basically everything- food, sleep, activities, time… you name it. Mom guilt comes from numerous origins, from personal insecurities to outside sources. From a personal standpoint being a “parent” is an identity that we often cherish the most and so if something goes right or wrong with our kids, it’s feel like a direct reflection of us as parents. In addition there are numerous outside sources, for example here are few main contributors to mom guilt:
Ever look at someone’s Instagram post and think “wow- they look like they have their life together?” or think that they are a “super mom”? Often when scrolling through Instagram we see so many moms who seem to be “experts” by having beautifully groomed toddlers who are perfectly well behaved, or doing creative and educational activities for hours. This can bring up a lot of guilt and feelings of inadequacies, but remember… a picture is simply a second snapshot into someone’s life and we weren’t privy to the tantrum that ensued. I usually suggest doing a social media cleanse and only follow accounts that have a positive impact on your mood and parental identity.
Trying to make every moment magical
Often we get caught up in the idea that every moment of being a parent should be magical, however between you and me we know that isn’t always true. Again with the influence of outside sources like friends, family, and social media we are often left to feel that every moment of parenting should be amazing, and feel guilty when it’s not. Parenting has its up and downs, and most people don’t talk about the downs which doesn’t do justice to the full experience of being a parent. Being a parent can be messy, exhausting and sometimes downright awful, and that’s normal. Not every moment is going to be magical, and that shouldn’t be something that makes you feel guilty.
Unrealistic expectations of parenting
There is often the idea that the more we sacrifice now, we will be rewarded later. Parents give up a lot for their children whether that’s financially, relationally, socially and emotionally; sometimes to extremes which can lead to unnecessary guilt when we feel we aren’t sacrificing enough. In addition many new parents believe that we have to parent perfectly and if we don’t our kids won’t grow up to be happy, healthy and successful. This concept ties into sacrificing a lot especially in relation to eating and sleeping, and can actually create a lot of guilt as we strive to meet an impossible goal.
Learning to manage mom guilt means we have to learn to accept ourselves as “good enough” parents, and adjust our expectations of ourselves, but also start to see how amazing our kids are becoming. No single amount of guilt will contribute to the happiness and development of your child, but rather will hinder your experience and eventually your emotional wellness. The goal is to learn to parent on your terms, and let go of the expectations you feel from others.
If interested in psychotherapy and counselling supports, please book an appointment with our perinatal mental health trained therapist today. Psychotherapy and Counselling services are available at Bronte Wellness Boutique.