How do I stop feeling so guilty about taking time for myself? I just went back to work after staying home with my youngest. And I also want to start working out again, but I feel so guilty about leaving! I want to be able to enjoy my time away and focus on work and getting healthy. How do I stop feeling so selfish and guilty?????
Oh, the Mom Guilt! Does it ever go away?
Probably not, but at least you can learn ways to keep it from completely stopping you in your tracks.
Busy Mom Psychology 101
Perhaps understanding the psychology behind your guilt can help.
Guilt comes from the belief that you've done something wrong. It's wrong to go back to work. It's wrong to be at the gym.
Consider these other beliefs:
I'm such a bad mom for wanting more time away from my kids after working all day.
I'll miss out on what little time we have together.
They'll cry when I leave and they shouldn't be upset like that.
If you believe these thoughts, then you will no doubt have all the Mom Guilt feels!
So now hear this:
Just because you have a thought in your head, doesn't mean it's true or even factual.
A thought is just a thought.
You're not a bad mom for wanting to exercise or have a hobby.
You're not a bad mom for wanting to follow your career dreams.
Just because your kids cry when you leave doesn't mean you're a bad mom. They won't be scarred for life.
Ask yourself: "What do I believe to be true about this situation? Is that accurate? What evidence do I have to support that belief?"
Change the way you think about the situation and you will change those feelings of guilt.
Introverts or Extrovert
Whatever your personality type, rarely is any one individual fully recharged and satisfied by spending all their time with their kiddos.
What makes you feel energized? What excites you? Other than your kids, what brings you enjoyment?
An introvert might prefer to read a good book time or have dinner out with a small group of friends. An extrovert might be pumped to see their favorite band or attend a local community event.
Only attending to your kiddos' needs will quickly deplete your physical and emotional energy. I'm sure you've heard the saying, 'You can't pour from an empty cup.'
Making sure you're a happy and healthy individual is a must in order to be a happy and healthy mother and wife.
Commiserate with a friend
Pretty much every mom can relate to these Mom Guilt Moments. I always breath a heavy sigh of relief when I hear other moms have similar struggles.
Talk to a supportive friend. Someone who can say just the right thing to get that Mom Guilt monkey off your back!
Lean on your partner
Just like with a good friend, opening up to your partner can alleviate some of the pressure.
Usually when I tell my husband about my Mom Guilt worries, he just stares blankly at me. I'm convinced there's no such thing as Dad Guilt.
Then, he will reassure me that I'm not being selfish and we figure out a way to work some Me Time into the schedule. Check out my article 10 Ways to Find Me Time for ideas.
Focus on the positive
When I feel guilty about not wanting to play with my kids for hours or when I have no desire to take them to the park, I try to focus on the positive things I did for them that week.
A fun conversation we had in the car while running errands.
A teaching moment at the grocery store.
Reading them a book at bed time.
Not yelling when I had to tell them three times to brush their teeth.
Cooking one of their favorite foods.
And remember this, Mom Guilt means you care about your kids' well-being and that's something to feel good about.
How do you get rid of Mom Guilt?
Share your comments below!
Thanks for taking the time,
Amanda is a licensed counselor with a practice in Westfield, just north of Indianapolis. She counsels worry warts, distant couples & also offers online coaching packages for busy moms who want to have it all on their terms. She lives with her husband, two boys, and not-to-be-ignored cat Sphinx.