Mom Guilt and How to Overcome it

Last Updated on January 22, 2024 by Lori Pace

Do you ever feel like you’re not doing enough to raise your children? Mom guilt can make it even more difficult to be a mom. It’s not even necessary or useful but it can affect your self-confidence and satisfaction with your family and work.

Mom guilt can be described as the feeling or worry that you shouldn’t do more or are not doing enough. Comparison can lead to mom guilt. You may feel inadequate when you see other moms making crafts with their children while yours is on the iPad.

You may also find it in your desire to be the parent you are. It can be the doubt you feel when your child isn’t at school every day or the desire to be more present than working on a project. Mom guilt can be caused by many things, including being a working mom or having a different parenting style to your friends.

Although mom guilt can be normal, it is important to not let it become your dominant emotion. Let’s talk about mom guilt, what it is and how to overcome it.

What is Mom Guilt?

Mom guilt, or mommy guilt, is the term used to describe the guilt that women feel in relation to their children. Mom guilt is more common in new mothers. It is a constant worry that they will make mistakes and want to do everything right. Mother guilt is a result of an unrealistic idea of a perfect mother.

It’s normal but you will only make things worse if you feel guilty. So, give yourself a break. Professional women are more likely to feel guilty about their roles as mothers. They are often torn between wanting to work and feeling guilty about leaving their child.

They might feel sad or ambivalent at not being able to spend more time with their child. They might feel guilty about not being able to spend more time with the child. It’s normal to feel mom guilt from time to time. However, it can make it difficult to be a good mom if you don’t learn how to manage it.

Mom guilt is a focus on your behavior. For example, you might feel guilty about not spending enough time with your child. This can lead to feelings of shame such as “I’m a horrible mom.” These feelings can have a negative impact on your mental health.

What about dads?

Fathers can feel guilt about child-rearing because they also want the best for their children. Father guilt is more prevalent than ever because fathers are now more involved in their children’s lives. Many dads feel torn between caring for their children and spending quality time with them.

However, Moms can feel even more pressure from traditional gender roles and the desire to have it all. Women are expected to be perfect mothers and wives, all along with them being a businesswoman, and achieve excellence in all aspects of life. This is unrealistic for most women and can lead to mom guilt.

What causes mom guilt?

Many situations can cause moms to feel guilty, including being a working mom, feeling bored when parenting, and more. Mom guilt can make you feel lonely. It might even make you worry that there’s something wrong with you. Don’t worry — there isn’t. 

To help you understand that what you’re feeling is natural, we’ve listed the top causes of mom guilt below.

Breastfeeding | Mom Guilt

Mom Guilt breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is one of the first dilemmas that can make new moms feel mom guilt. While some find it a breeze, others find it more challenging. It might be that they don’t have enough milk, find it overwhelming, or even suffer from D-MER.

Dysphoric milk ejection reflex (D-MER) is a disorder where you feel an influx of negative emotions during breastfeeding. This may be because prolactin (a milk-producing hormone) replaces too much dopamine in some women.

Before discovering D-MER, many mothers felt intense guilt and shame about how breastfeeding made them feel. But when you understand that it’s a perfectly natural biological response, it’s easier to accept these emotions.

There’s nothing wrong with giving your baby formula, but many new moms struggle with guilt over old taboos around it. If that’s the case for you, let go of your focus on others’ expectations. Follow your intuition to find the best solution for you and your baby.

Being a Working Mom (or not being one)

Working mom guilt is another common form of mom guilt, particularly in countries like the US, where maternity leave is just 12 weeks. Leaving your baby in daycare so early on in life can feel shameful.  But stay-at-home mom guilt is just as real. You may worry you’re not setting a good example by not going out to work.

Being Bored | Mom Guilt

Even if you love being a mom, childcare can sometimes be boring — and that’s okay. It’s normal to crave adult conversation or a more stimulating TV show than Peppa Pig. It’s also normal to miss the things you used to do in your pre-baby life, like making spontaneous dinner plans with your friends.

Giving Them Too Much Screen Time

It’s important to limit the amount of time your littles spend in front of screens. But sometimes, you just need some time to yourself.  It’s okay to give them a little extra screen time if it gives you ten minutes for a much-needed soak in the tub.

Asking for help | Mom Guilt

They say it takes a village to raise a child, so don’t feel guilty if you can’t cope alone — you’re not supposed to. Modern life has most of us raising children without the support of an extended family network. But trying to do it all yourself can lead to caregiver burnout, especially if your children have special needs. There’s no shame in seeking support if you need it.

Not spending “enough” time with your children

Spending time with your kids is important. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time with them. And remember, as they grow up and start to go through different stages of life, they will gradually become more independent from you.

If you decide you need a spa day to relax and enjoy some alone time, don’t feel guilty for leaving them with a babysitter. Instead, reframe your self-care day as helping you be your best self when spending quality time with them.

Judgy family members | Mom Guilt

Unsolicited opinions and advice from family members can trigger feelings of mom guilt. But remember, just because they raised their children one way doesn’t mean you have to do it the same way as them. Your kids are unique, as are you, and you can figure out the best way to parent them.

These kinds of judgments can get on your nerves even more during the holiday season, adding to the already-high levels of holiday stress. This can lead to emotional outbursts that leave you feeling guilty.

Losing your temper

Parenting is hard, and unlike your full-time job, you never get to take a break from it. It’s normal to find your kids annoying at times. It’s also normal to lose your temper with them or your partner — you’re only human. 

As a new parent, you deal with hormonal fluctuations, sleep deprivation, and more. Nobody — not even your children — expects you to be calm and stoic all the time. Just make sure you apologize to them afterward.

Comparison | Mom Guilt

It’s so easy to look at social media and think someone else is a better mom than you. But you’re comparing your reality to her curated highlights reel. If you could see the reality behind it, you would see she feels just as inadequate as you do.

Postpartum depression

If you think your mom guilt has reached an unmanageable level, consult your healthcare provider. Your excessive feelings of guilt may be caused by postpartum depression.

How Does Mom Guilt Show Up?

You should now feel less guilty about your mom guilt. How do you know when your normal guilt levels start to become excessive? These are five indicators that mom guilt could be negatively impacting you:

  • Low self-worth – Guilty thoughts can lead to you believing you are a bad mother, which can negatively impact your self-worth.
  • Inconsistent mental well-being – An excessive feeling of guilt about being a mom can lead to depression, anxiety, and poor mental health.
  • Negative coping strategies – To avoid distressing feelings, we use negative coping strategies. You may be trying to escape mom guilt by overindulging in food, shopping and alcohol.
  • Trying to do it all – Mom guilt can be overcome by trying to do it all. This could include cooking, cleaning, cleaning and taking care of your child. It is easy to put too much pressure on yourself, trying to be everything, including a perfect partner, mother, friend, colleague, professional and friend. This is unrealistic and can lead to burnout. Give yourself some grace.
  • Spending too much time on social media – Many people use social media to escape the world, not just moms. It’s fine to use it for a healthy amount. Sometimes, though, moms who feel guilty about their parenting may use social media to show that they are a good mom by posting only positive aspects. You may feel guilt if you use social media to prove something.

10 Ways To Overcome Mom Guilt

Take a Deep Breath

Automatic thoughts can often lead to mom guilt. Stop feeling guilty and racing thoughts. Take a few deep mindful breaths.

Identify the source

Keep a journal to note the things that make you feel guilty or shameful. You can take action by becoming aware of the areas that cause you the most mom guilt.

Show some self-compassion

Mom Guilt self-compassion
Don’t be harsh on yourself!

Empathy and compassion are the best antidote for shame. It is often difficult to be compassionate towards others, but it can be easy to struggle with self-compassion. If you find yourself being harsh with yourself, it is time to take a step back.

Challenge negative beliefs

The next step after identifying the beliefs that cause mom guilt is to change them. Ask yourself if there is evidence to challenge negative beliefs. You’ll often find there isn’t. These beliefs can be reframed as positive statements to give you a more realistic outlook.

Prioritize self-care

It’s not selfish to help yourself first before helping others. A regular self-care program can help you be more patient and present with your children, which will reduce mom guilt.

Listen to your intuition

Moms are able to tune in to their child’s needs with their intuition. She knows their needs most of the time. You don’t have to feel guilty about reading if your children are happy playing with a book. You’ll hear from them when they want to spend more time with you.

Don’t feel guilty if your child begs for your attention but you are unable to give it immediately, for example because you’re working at home. Make sure to spend some time with your child after you are done. You will hear your child tell you what they need. You just need to pay attention and follow your intuition. Then you will do the right thing.

Surround yourself with supportive people

Moms can feel judged. This can lead to guilt, shame, anxiety, and guilt. Avoid people who are critical of your parenting style or who criticize you. Instead, find people who will support and validate you.

Take some time off

Yes, it is possible to take a break. Ask your partner to help you for a few hours so that you can be alone. Find a support group for single mothers and share the responsibility of looking after your children.

Seek professional help

Mom Guilt seek professional helps

You might consider working with a coach, therapist, or someone who can help you cope if you are struggling to cope on your own or feel overwhelmed by guilt.

Coaching can be a great way to support working parents. Feeling guilty about being a mom can be eased by finding the best solution for your family and shifting your expectations.

Try conscious parenting

A technique called conscious parenting encourages parents to be more mindful and less reactive. You can start by becoming more aware of your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and learn how to manage them. You’ll be less likely to feel guilt later on if you can manage your emotions better.

Don’t Let Mom Guilt Control Your Life And Well-Being 

It’s normal to feel mom guilt from time-to-time. It’s normal to feel mom guilt from time to time, provided you have strategies for dealing with it. Mom guilt can cloud your judgment as a parent and make it difficult to connect with your children.

One of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in the world is being a mom or dad. A coach can help you to improve your career and help you be a better parent.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!