How To Work Through Mom Guilt

Homegrown Advice from the NSFMG Community

by Alexis Barad-Cutler

I was coming off the high of a wonderful weekend with my two boys — surprising them with a trip to one of their favorite museum popups, and special dinner where they got to stay out late — when my older son said, “Mom, I wish we had more time with you.” Immediately, I did calculations in my head: How much time DO we spend together, out of an entire week? Is that time “quality time?” Should I be working less? Should I be cutting other things out so that I could be with my kids more? Instead of soaking up the good feels of the fun day I had given my kids, I was up until 2 am thinking about the ways I was coming up short. I know I am not alone in feeling mom guilt.

So many of us — about 75% in our Not Safe For Mom Group community alone — reported feeling overwhelmed by mom guilt. With the abundance of guilt so many of us feel as mothers, one would think that there would be a cure for it by now.

Like so many ills that plague mothers, alas, there is still no concrete solution, balm, or prescription for this particular strain of guilt. But the moms of NSFMG hold abundant wisdom. When I put out the question to our community, on behalf of one of our guilt-suffering members, “How do you get over feelings of mom guilt (big or small)?” you had so many nuggets it was hard to pick the “top ones.” Instead, I broke a good lot of them down into “guilt categories” — to help illustrate that so many of us not only are feeling guilt (because, DUH), but we are also going through similar processes and patterns to get through it.

Heres how Mom Group is working through, thinking about, and facing the ugly scourge that plagued many of us:

Getting over guilt isn’t easy:

“It took time, the first year was the hardest.”

“I live in constant anxiety because I feel guilty for not being good enough.”

There isn’t some easy fix. It’s an every day exercise to advocate for ourselves and our family’s needs, so EVERYONE does better — especially MOM.

Guilt has a source:

“Try not to judge yourself — it’s hard, but there are no wrong answers. Parenting is so tough, and we make it even tough by trying to hold ourselves to impossible standards.” — H.

“Look objectively at the source of the “guilt.” We are bombarded all the time about how to act and be, and the best way to parent our babies. We are sold the lie that there is always a problem to fix . . .Do only what you can, accept help, and let the rest go.” — A

“Mom guilt is almost always caused by its evil twin: “Should shame.” Stemming from false ideas about who you “should” be or what you “should” be doing manifests as feelings of guilt. Get rid of guilt by having a 0 tolerance policy for shaming yourself. Build a stronger sense of self by clearly defining YOUR values, what you want out of life, your preferred way of doing things - write down column A and column B - and compare it to how you live day to day . . .” — J.

“Mom guilt is really just an abundance of love, because YOU CARE.” —P.

“Guilt is born in the belly of unrealistic expectation.” — M.

“We are being asked to do things we have never had to do before in history . . . and do it all in a nuclear family unit without help from older extended family members, which is something we’ve relied on for centuries.”

What guilt?

“Mom guilt never bothers me.. . I am a person too, with needs, and I manage as best as I can but sometimes have to do one sub par parenting thing just to keep the system rolling.” — E.


”I have felt a lot of powerful and unpleasant emotions since becoming a mom . . . But guilt isn’t one of them. What TF should I feel guilty for?” — H.

“I own the fact that I’m selfish and that’s OK.” — M.

“Just saying ‘fuck ‘em. My kid is smart, happy and strong and healthy. I must be doing it right.”

Positive vibes only:

“Gather your closest friends for support!”

“Every time you feel guilt, try to replace it with grace.” — A.

“I am seeing a psychologist who has taught me about being a “good enough parent” (Google it!).” — M.

“Talking to other moms and sharing helps.”

“I remind myself: Bad moms don’t worry if they’re being good.”

“Counteract it by showing love and patience, and acceptance for yourself. Journal.”

“I go through, not over. I feel it, recognize it, and RELEASE. It’s all FAKE.”

Thank you to everyone who contributed. If you have your own “get through the guilt” tactic, please comment below!

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mage of Sade and daughter via Pinterest.