With the current pandemic and a national shutdown, mom guilt is becoming more and more pervasive. There is immense pressure from society for women to be perfect mothers, beginning with birthing and breastfeeding. With all the recent changes including virtual schooling and the inability for children to participate in extracurricular or social activities, children are home more often, leading to fewer breaks for moms to recharge. Moms are stressed and overwhelmed, allowing habits that may have been prohibited in the past, such as more screen time and unhealthy diets.
As a result, moms are feeling more guilty and critical toward themselves and all the things they “should” be doing differently. Here are some ways to counteract the feelings of guilt that come from unrealistic expectations moms have of themselves to be perfect.
• Redirect negative thoughts to more constructive thoughts. Focus on the value that comes out of the act. For example, “I should spend less time working” can be restructured to “My children are learning from me how to balance work and home life.”
• Practice being kind and empathic toward yourself. Remind yourself that how you’re feeling is normal. You are doing the best you can with the resources available to you, both physically and emotionally. Practice releasing perfectionism and acquiring acceptance for yourself. Through this, you are also teaching your children how to have compassion and self-love.
• Increase time for self-care. Eating healthy, exercising, meditating, and spending time away from your children helps fill your tank, improves your mood, and allows you to be more emotionally available for your kids. Feeling guilty depletes your tank, leading to more negative thoughts and internal conflicts.
• Talk to other moms. All moms are in this together. Most struggle with feelings of guilt and all the “shoulds” that come with parenting. Connecting with other moms normalizes your own experiences and allows you the opportunity to vent and relate with others who are in similar situations.
Putting in consistent effort to work through your guilt will help decrease or even eliminate it. If the feelings becoming overwhelming and you need further support navigating through them, consider reaching out to a mental health professional.
Jennifer Galvan, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Woodland Hills, California. Dr. Galvan has several years of training and experience in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and has been part of many podcasts and seminars around diverse topics. For more information, visit Dr. Galvan’s website at www.galvanpsychology.com or follow @dr.jennifergalvan on Instagram.
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