3 Strategies to Ditch The Mom Guilt

parenting Mar 13, 2019

You wanted to take time for yourself. You said you were going to do it. You even marked it on your calendar. But somehow....it didn’t actually happen. (Or worse, you held onto your self-care time and the mom-guilt came along for the ride.)

As a mom, we are used to endless responsibilities. We’re masters at managing multiple moving pieces - all the time. So why does self-care slip through our fingers so easily?

Here’s the simple answer: When you’re chasing the impossible expectations and ideals that come with motherhood, you set yourself up to fall short. And when you’re frustrated with yourself for not measuring up, it’s easy to feel undeserving of self-care.

This all too familiar sequence of events can usually be attributed to our dear, old friend: the Inner Critic.

For the average mom, the role is synonymous with less than 32 minutes of solo time per day, says a recent study.

No wonder that leaves us Mamas lingering an extra luxurious few minutes longer in the bathroom so we can have a few moments sans beeps, yelling and other sounds. Or making that last minute Target run for a “very urgent and important errand”.

The unfortunate part isn’t the daydreaming about the uninterrupted solo time. And it certainly isn’t the act of taking it. It’s the guilt and anxiety that seems to accompany any act of self-care, no matter how small.

That's why I'm giving you three strategies for making it to your self-care commitments sans the mom guilt:

Pretend your kids can hear your negative self-talk

As Moms, we mistakenly fall into the trap of thinking that our kids need us to be “perfect”. When the truth is, they need us to be real, loving and radically accepting of ourselves. They need us to be compassionate when we make a mistake so when they make one, we don’t go off on them. They need us to let go of perfectionism.

What if your kids could hear what your Inner Critic says to you? How would you want them to see you respond to her? Even though your kids can’t hear the inner workings of your brain, they see the result in your actions and how you ultimately do or don’t take care of yourself.

Find a community that holds you accountable

The Inner Critic thrives in isolation. That way, no one can question the stories she’s telling you! Find a community where you can bring your frustrations and your successes to the table. Ask for help in seeing your blind spots. Have an accountability partner call you right before your self-care date to make sure you’re taking it!

Actually indulge your escape fantasy

The most powerful thing you can do to transform your experience as a parent is to stop your automatic reactions in their tracks and question them. What if you saw your fantasy as “normal” instead of “bad”?

Sometimes I fantasize about telling my husband I got caught up at work and that he’ll have to pick up the kids, but really I’m just sitting in my car in a parking lot in peace with a hot beverage in hand, blasting Beyoncé and not responding to any messages. The car is my sanctuary. Anyone else?

 

Unless you’re planning on running away from your home and never looking back, your escape fantasy is probably nothing to be ashamed of or suppress entirely. In fact, airing it out by telling a friend or actually indulging it is the way to go. Shame can’t breathe when it’s out in the open.

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