As a mom, you will never run out of reasons to feel guilty.
Let’s face it, some days our kids get their Omega-3s from Long John Silver’s instead of the freezer-burnt wild-caught Alaskan salmon in your freezer … which just happens to be sitting next to the frozen berries you intended to use for Greek yogurt smoothies last July.
And those expensive organic dietary supplements you told your husband would help the kids grow into super-geniuses and birth genetically superior kids of their own?
Yeah … let’s not talk about that.
Or maybe you blast the soundtrack to Hairspray when you ought to be playing Beethoven to help develop your kids’ parietal cortex.
And don’t you still feel guilty about the time you forgot to use sunscreen on your four-year-old and he turned red as a lobster?
Yeah, we all have a quadjamillion zillion things to feel guilty about.
Let’s put your mind at ease and talk about things that you can totally NOT feel guilty about!
(Oh, and by the way, that so-called “Mozart effect” has been debunked by scientists. So don’t waste your mother’s guilt on that!)
Mom Guilt-Free Shortcut #1:
Use Your “Baby Container”
Guilt Trip: You shouldn’t “overuse” baby containers.
Everyone talks about how being overly dependent on “baby containers” (i.e. bouncers, car seats, swings, etc.) can stunt your child’s physical development. Realistically speaking, however, sometimes you really need to contain your child for a little while and keep them content.
Baby carriers are seriously amazing, and there are loads of benefits to babywearing! Not the least of which is that in those early days of postpartum hormones and new-mom paranoia, you don’t have far to go during your every-30-second breathing check.
BUT when you’re preparing dinner, the last thing you need is what feels like twenty little hands constantly grabbing at your big, scary knife and reckless feet kicking at boiling pots of water!
The Exersaucer: Therapist Recommended!
Let me introduce you to the sanity-saving Evenflo Exersaucer.
There are several varieties available, but this jungle one is what I’m currently coveting. It transforms from playmat, to seated activity center, to play table, so it’s versatile for a variety of ages and milestones.
Allow me to share my story about the Exersaucer. I had been avoiding using it, thinking it was the same as other “baby containers” I’d been warned about. Then despite my best efforts to keep my daughter active and growing developmentally, we eventually had to get her into therapy.
Cue the serious mom guilt!
My daughter has low muscle tone and some developmental delays, and I was shocked when the therapist actually recommended the Exersaucer. As the therapist pointed out, unlike other baby seats which keep baby in a reclined, relaxed position, this activity center encouraged my daughter to put weight on her feet, engaged her core muscles, and allowed her to be physically active.
Friends, I truly did notice a significant difference in her strength and willingness to put weight on her feet after just a few sessions with it. And she LOVED it! She would spend sometimes an hour and a half in it, completely captivated, exercising, and allowing me to complete any tasks that required both hands!
Here are some of the design options they currently have available on Amazon. Don’t these look like a baby’s dream? So many things to touch and slobber on!
Obviously, you don’t want to leave your kiddo completely unsupervised in it, but having a mother’s guilt-free break from being constantly engaged with your child is exactly what many of us are craving!
Here are a few other great options for baby entertainment that won’t stunt your child’s development.
- Most jumpers encourage core strength and are fantastic for building up lower body muscles.
- Even floor seats can be useful for those not ready for an Exersaucer. (See the girly version here.)
- Playards are good options for offering room to roll, crawl, and explore, while still keeping babies and toddlers safely contained.
Avoiding products that keep your child still or in one place isn’t the problem. The danger is relying too heavily on items that keep your child in a reclined position with limited options for movement.
So plop your kid in the Exersaucer, floor seat, or jumper of your choice, and take a moment to scrub the bathtub, make that conference call, or check out the new video game you got a great deal on!
Mom Guilt-Free Shortcut #2:
Get Creative with Catching Memories
Guilt Trip: If you’re not marking down every milestone, memory, and moment you don’t care about your kid.
So you’re not totally rocking it on keeping up with the baby book and recording all of baby’s firsts? Getting a backlog of photos in your phone that haven’t been turned into prints yet? Here’s a couple shortcuts to help you with that guilt.
Catching Memories in Little Moments
Are you a baby book failure?
You might find our Milestone Marker an easier way to keep track of all your baby’s new developments. It includes not just space to jot down all your favorite memories, but it also provides great information on where your child should be developmentally. AND when you purchase it, you also get a growth tracker as well, so win-win-win!
The Milestone Marker even breaks skills down into groups: Motor, Relational, Communication, Learning, and Sleeping. Looking at your baby’s skills as related sets can help you spot patterns and recognize strengths and weaknesses.
For those moms with extra time, you can even wow your pediatrician at your next visit by whipping out a whole completed chart on what Junior has been up to the last couple months!
Keep it on your nightstand and make it part of your bedtime routine to pick it up and jot down anything new or exciting that happened that day.
The Phone Photo Storage Problem…Solved
Okay. I seriously can’t be the only mom who has trouble with constantly filling up her phone with pictures and not having any more space on it. Fortunately for us, there are plenty of apps out there that offer to AUTOMATICALLY save all of your photos to a storage site!
Personally, I love the Shutterfly app! I have it set where every photo I take on my phone gets saved to a site where I can easily order any prints, greeting cards, photo books, and any number of items that I never thought to put photos on.
It’s always hard to delete baby photos, but knowing that they’re still out there in cyber-world where I can access them anytime I want makes me feel a little less guilty.
Mom Guilt-Free Shortcut #3:
Have Your Date Night (And Eat Out Too)
Guilt Trip: Leaving my child before he turns one will communicate that I don’t love him.
[Insert vehement raspberry]
I must confess something. My husband and I had our first date night away from the baby when we were less than two weeks into parenthood.
Shocked? Could you have done it?
Now don’t get me wrong! It was definitely hard, and I experienced some mother’s guilt. But just spending a couple of hours “un-momming” was exactly what I needed before my husband went back to work after paternity leave.
We couldn’t stay away for too long because I was breastfeeding, and we hadn’t tried introducing the bottle yet. And, of course, the grandparents sent plenty of photos and text messages reassuring me on my daughter’s well-being. (That always helps with the mom guilt.)
But just focusing on my husband and our marriage for a little bit was like a chocolate bar after a juice cleanse. (Just kidding. I don’t do juice cleanses. Just the chocolate bars.)
I LOVE being a mom, and I adore my children. But I loved their Daddy many years before he bore that title. If loving my children well takes time, energy, and commitment, so does loving my husband well.
Mother’s guilt is quickly banished when I remember that keeping my marriage strong is in my kids’ best interest – as well as ours!
Mom Guilt-Free Shortcut #4:
Working Outside the Home
Guilt Trip: If you work outside the home, your child will feel neglected and unloved.
I have yet to meet a mom who 100% enjoys putting her children in daycare. Even if they find a place that they fully trust to give their children attention, love, and support, all moms have at least some level of mom guilt when using daycare services.
But let’s talk about something for a moment.
Why do you need childcare? Because you have a career?
Sister, child care is expensive! Let’s face it, if you’re making enough money to afford it, you must be experiencing some level of success! It’s so wonderful that you get to show your children what a strong, successful woman looks like!
Share your passion with your children! How can you have mother’s guilt when they’re so excited to learn what Mommy does while she is away?!
- Are you a doctor or nurse? Tell your kids how you get to help hurting people while they are in daycare. Buy them a toy medical kit and show them what Mommy does.
- Are you a teacher? Show them the inside of your classroom and let them pretend to teach YOU with this teacher toy kit!
- Are you a financial advisor? Explain how you enjoy helping people feel confident about their future and being able to provide for their families.
- Construction worker? Hello, LEGOs!
- Cashier or Bank Teller? Set up a “store” at home with this play set and let the kids learn how to count pennies and sell “goods”!
Whether you’re a counselor, computer programmer, small business owner, attorney, pastor, personal trainer, politician, chef, sales rep, mechanic, etc, etc, etc, you can find something about your work to help your kids feel connected with you while you’re gone.
When at Home … Be at Home
When you are home and present with your kids, be present! You may have less time with them if they are in daycare, but when you’re together, make it quality time.
Don’t check your work e-mail. Keep work-related calls to a minimum. Do whatever you can to not bring work home with you. (Even if you’re working from home!)
For some moms, having a career makes us better. It energizes us so we can come home and appreciate our family life even more. Don’t ever consider yourself less because your family needs are different from someone else’s.
Mom Guilt-Free Shortcut #5:
Ditch the Comparison Crap
Guilt Trip: My kids would have a better mom if I were more like…
Okay, Mom. This one is just for you.
The cause of mother’s guilt I hear most from my fellow moms is how inadequate they feel thanks to social media.
That’s right. Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. They are the culprits.
Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE social media! (Perhaps too much.) It does a lot of good, especially when it comes to sharing baby photos with far-flung family members.
But they invite a lot of comparison and feelings of inadequacy. Ipso facto: MOM GUILT!
So how do we combat this? I have a couple of ideas for you:
- Take a break – Maybe you need to temporarily limit your social media use. You can try an all-out fast for a set amount of time, or simply limit yourself to one or two days a week. Or maybe an hour or two per day. You know your habits best, but a daily or weekly limit may be just what the doctor ordered to help you feel like a better mom!
- Post your own reality – Be brave, dig deep, and share your struggles. If you open up about a hard day or a recent difficult challenge, you may be surprised at the response. Perhaps that yoga-mat-toting, organic-paleo-vegan, new-Pinterest-craft-every-day mom will reply with a shocking story of her own that connects you two in a way you never expected!
It’s so easy to put on a picture-perfect performance through a screen, but breaking down those barriers may help you realize that you’re not as alone as you thought.
Banish MOM GUILT for Good!
The bad news is that we all have mother’s guilt. (Even moms who write on mom-blogs …)
But the good news is that you’re doing better than you think you are! Promise!
Now that you know what things NOT to stress over, you have more brain power to freak out and feel guilty over the important things – like how much time you allow your kids to be under the influence of Thomas the Tank Engine. (Kidding!)
But seriously, moms worry. It’s kinda our thing. But covering yourself in guilt doesn’t help your kids, and it CERTAINLY doesn’t help you!
Breathe in grace and acceptance. No one is judging you as hard as you do yourself. You’ve got this!
Have You Seen These Yet?
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- 5 Quick Ways to Melt Away the Stress of Motherhood
- The Greatest Lie About Motherhood Ever Told
- 10 Hilarious Things About Childbirth Worth Laughing Over
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