Mom guilt can be so overwhelming! We hear the term all the time nowadays, but what is it and how do we actually overcome mom guilt without losing our minds?
Sometimes this “mom guilt” is not founded on the truth, but sometimes it is trying to tell us something. So today let’s dive in and look at how to overcome “mom guilt”!
I’ve been a mom for less than a year and already I’ve experienced more mom guilt than I want to admit.
I mean going from being just me and my husband to having a newborn is tough. You end up sacrificing a LOT of what life was like before. And as much as I want to say I was ready for that, I wasn’t.
When you become a mom, your life is no longer about you. No more quiet mornings sipping coffee and reading your Bible. No more relaxing evenings without a care in the world. And as a work from home mama, no more long hours of uninterrupted time at my desk.
Once you have a little one (or many) your time is no longer your own. Our priority as mamas becomes our children. And this is what causes a lot of our mom guilt.
Guilt as an Important Reminder
I want to address guilt as an important reminder first.
As much as our children become our priority, we cannot forget that the Lord is and always will be the number one priority we are called to.
The greatest commandment begins with love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). When we put our children before the Lord, I believe that this will result in guilt.
When I am obsessing over whether or not my baby is okay, so much so that I forget to pray and surrender my feelings to the Lord, I begin to become overwhelmed with guilt.
This was so evident in the first days with my newborn. Trying to establish breastfeeding is tough. I was determined to make it work. But in those early days, when my little one was crying and crying no matter what I did, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with guilt and fear. It wasn’t just concern for whether or not he was getting enough milk. But this guilt for me went deeper. Was I not enough? Was I a failure as his mama?
This questions overwhelmed me and crippled me. And they have returned numerous times since. When these thoughts begin to creep into my mind, guilt ravages my heart. I begin to feel like I need to work harder, to do more to prove to myself that I am a “good mom”.
Can you relate? How much of what you do is in an effort to be a “good mom”?
I believe there is a fine line as to where this becomes unhealthy. And when we cross that line, guilt ravages our soul.
It’s when we step back and recognize that God is our provider. God is our strength. God is the one who will truly protect our little ones that we can come to a healthy place of dealing with this guilt.
When we surrender to Him in this way, we can step into the true role that God has for us as mamas. We can surrender the unhealthy guilt that tackles our hearts and stand firm in the truth that as we surrender to God, He is our strength as mamas.
You Need Breaks – And That’s OKAY
Now let’s dive into mom guilt that has no foundation. The kind that we can refute because it has no place in our hearts.
Mom guilt overwhelms me when I take a break from my little guy. I cannot be away from him without feeling some sense of guilt.
What about you?
Life will honestly never be the same because I struggle to leave my child and I struggle to fully relax when I do.
This is not healthy! When you birth a child and become a Mama, your priorities will change. You will no longer be your own, but you will be fully given over to caring for a baby. Your body no longer is your own. Your time no longer is your own.
And yet, you still need time to renew and refresh. There will be moments where this is not possible and God WILL give you the strength. But it is important to be able to step back and breathe. It is important to be able to step back and spend time with God.
My husband (who was amazing as a new dad) would often give me these moments. The baby would be fed and he would take over. He was in good hands! But every moment that I spent away left me feeling guilty. Why was I taking any time for myself? Why was I allowed a break? Didn’t my baby need me?
This guilt kept me from any sense of peace or relaxation that my husband was blessing me with an opportunity to find. Sometimes I counted the minutes until I was back caring for the baby.
This is a common guilt that I have heard from many seasoned mamas. As a new mom, this guilt is hard to overcome. But we have to fight it. Because it isn’t healthy. All moms need a break. We need time to care for ourselves and we need time to spend with God.
So if you are blessed enough to be given time, I would encourage you to proactively fight against that guilt. (More on later)
When We Actually Are Guilty as Mamas…
So when is mom guilt actually trying to tell us something? The true meaning of guilt comes when we have committed a wrong.
So if you are feeling that mom guilt because you have somehow wronged your children or have not loved them in the way that we are called to as moms, this guilt may actually be trying to lead you to something important: repentance and asking for forgiveness.
If you feel mom guilt, be sure to pray for God to reveal any areas of your life that you may need to repent and ask forgiveness. I honestly believe that as we do this with our children, they will see a true example of a godly life.
Moms aren’t perfect. And in that imperfection, we can show God’s love and grace to our children. We can teach them that when we fall short, God gives us grace as we turn to Him.
So How to Cope with Mom Guilt?
Stand on the Truth
As mamas, we have to be grounded in the Word. Satan wants to do everything he can to destroy the mission of motherhood that God has called us to.
He knows how powerful a strong family is for His kingdom. He knows how influential a mother’s love is for her children.
As you saturate your heart and mind with Scripture, you will begin to see the lies that tempt you towards unhealthy guilt. You will be able to stand firm in the truth.
Commit to Redirecting Your Thoughts
Mom guilt is going to beg for our attention. It is going to tempt us into dwelling in this guilty feeling. But after you have truly prayed and asked God to reveal any areas of your life where you need to repent or ask forgiveness, you can commit to redirecting your thoughts when this feeling arises.
When you feel guilty, consider what thoughts are going through your mind. For me, this was often that I am failing as a mom. I needed to commit to redirecting this thought because it was not founded in truth. Every time I recognized myself thinking that way, I would stop that thought and instead remind myself that I am trying my best and that my baby is healthy and thriving. Soon this became more of a habit and a way of thinking.
Talk About It
As mamas, we feel so many emotions. I mean one minute we feel like we are doing a great job – the house is clean, the kids are happy and we are sipping warm coffee. And then the next, we feel like a total failure – the kids have destroyed any semblance of order, they’re crying or fighting and our coffee is now cold! Up and down is the pattern that we grow accustomed to as moms.
And sometimes, we just need to talk about it! Whether it is with a friend, a mentor or even a therapist – some things need to be worked through.
I am definitely a verbal processor and so this is something I must do often. And when I cannot talk about it, I try to journal through my thoughts. This helps me to cope with mom guilt in a healthy way instead of stuffing it down.
Write Out Phrases and Verses to Speak Aloud
There is power in our words. Both in the words we tell ourselves silently and in the words we speak aloud.
Take a notecard or a journal and write down some phrases and verses that speak truth into your situation as a mama.
The next time your thoughts drift towards feeling less than or feeling that mom guilt – speak these things out loud. Yes it can be awkward, but I’m telling you, it makes a huge difference!
What have you found helpful in dealing with mom guilt? Let me know in the comments below!
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