What Is “Mom Guilt” and How Can You Manage It?

There it is again, mom guilt.  Another photo on Instagram depicting a perfect birthday party for someone’s 2 year old, with the mom’s perfect bikini body in the spotlight. How can you possibly live up to this hype about the “super moms” all around you? They’re happy, gorgeous, calm, and living life to the fullest. They have it all (or that’s what social media tells us), and there it is again…mom guilt. So exactly what is “mom guilt” and how can you manage it?

Who Is Most at Risk for Mom Guilt?

Like all disorders, there are always certain groups that are more at risk, or more susceptible, to acquire the disorder. In this case, first time moms, working moms, and single moms seem to have the highest risk of encountering mom guilt. We are not making light of this; mom guilt is very real, and it can cause emotional issues which may affect all parts of a woman’s life.

First time moms want to be the best mom they can be right from the very beginning by showing that they are the idyllic, perfect mom. 

Working moms struggle with the time spent away from their child when they are at work. They can miss so many important moments like their child’s first steps. On top of that, they also feel guilty about leaving their child with a stranger or a relative and then being too tired at night to give them adequate attention.

Single moms may feel the most guilty of all. They have no male father figure to share the responsibilities of a new child, and so they feel as though they let their child down right from birth. 

Let’s look at practical ways to overcome the mom guilt complex. 

Choices and Compromises Are Part of Life

If you are a working mom, you have made the choice to be outside the home and use your talents in the workplace. That choice demands compromises with your time. Give yourself permission to enjoy your successful career without guilt, because ultimately it is beneficial for you and your child. Then work towards finding sufficient, quality time to be with your child after work.

mom ignoring child while on her phone in theater

Get Off Social Media

If that sounds too drastic, you certainly can limit your time on various social media apps. If Facebook and Instagram only make you compare yourself to others and adds to your mom guilt, it doesn’t really benefit you or anyone else in your life. 

Put Down Your Smartphone

You may think of being on your phone as a distraction from your stress. Unfortunately,  when you spend time looking at social media, you are only creating the potential to become more stressed and guilty of the time you just wasted. 

Live in the Present

So you couldn’t be there all day when you were at work, but you are there now. Make the most of the time with your little ones. Engage them in different activities, note what they are doing, talk about their day, and just be present together without distraction. Chances are high that they have already forgotten you were gone, so focus on the special situation you have going on right now.

Do Something Just for You

Doing something just for you is a good thing. Say it out loud! It makes you a better more relaxed mom. In this case, the ends absolutely justifies the means.

Set Aside 1-on-1 Time

Even if it is only 15 minutes in a day, spend that time with a child 1 on 1. Let them pick what you’ll do or talk about the first time, and you chose the next time. 15 minutes of undivided attention can give your child a real treat, and work wonders to resolve any guilty feelings. 

Don’t let mom guilt spoil some of the best times of your life. Contact Fairfax Neonatal Associates, PC (FNAPC) if you are stressed and overwhelmed with sadness and guilt, as there are many treatment options available in Northern Virginia to help manage this common disorder.

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