If you suffer from a case of mom guilt, may this post bring you encouragement. Post contains affiliate links.
I decided to lie in bed, look up at the ceiling, and think.
Just like women from the movies.
I put on comfy pajamas, got under warm covers, and thought about everything going wrong in my life. What can I say? I’m a realist.
Mainly, though, I was thinking about my Mom Guilt. Why did I feel so out of sorts lately? Why were the kids all acting like something was Off and why did I seem on the verge of Mommy Tantrums so often? I was doing a pretty good job of keeping a lid on my feelings in front of the kids, but mentally, the feelings were taking their toll.
Was it change of routine?
Lack of sleep?
Was my stress seeping over into our daily family life?
I had no idea.
So I did what I normally do when I’m stressed about something… I buy a ton of books and try to find a solution. After reading the first chapter of the first book I purchased, I immediately knew why my Mom Guilt had been rearing its ugly head. Why some of my kids seemed a little distant and others seemed to be crying out for attention at every turn.
The holiday season had been wonderful, lots of time together. Then the New Year began with a bang and we hadn’t quite caught up. Rush here, rush there, and before I knew it… I hadn’t been making an effort to keep my children’s hearts close.
I was worried I was screwing them up.
I was worried they would never get along.
I was worried they’d leave home, never talk again, and not come visit at Christmas.
I was worried about all the things that result from the one thing that was lacking in recent weeks…
Great relief comes from knowing what the problem is.
As soon as I was able to pinpoint the issue, finding solutions became much simpler. Whereas before I’d been spinning in a stress cycle, now I was able to break out and figure out how to help every child feel more connected and safe in our day to day.
Here’s my strategy.
Connect With Statements, Not Questions
If you want to immediately connect with your child, the easiest way is to make a comment, not a question. Asking questions can make kids feel on the spot, particularly shy kids. Instead of putting kids on the defensive, get down to their level.
“Oh, you have a truck in your hand!”
“Your shoes light up.”
“You’re eating a banana. It looks like it tastes good.”
It’s nearly impossible to daze out and become absent when we are commenting on what’s happening in the here and now. And when you see more and more meaningful interactions with your children throughout the day, the mom guilt fades away on its own.
Put The Phone Down
There, I said it.
It can be so overwhelming to take care of little ones all day. There are so many messes to clean up, toys to put away, mouths to feed, diapers to change and on and on and on until you fall into your bed at 8:45 p.m. wondering how you ever stayed up past midnight.
In those intense moments it’s so easy to reach for the phone. 20 minutes later… you are pulled back to reality with needy children, a still messy house, and all those same feelings of stress.
That’s because reaching for the smartphone does not take away stress, it only increases it. The jury is no longer out. The research is overwhelmingly in. Smartphones – while useful in many areas – can actually cause us more stress than they relieve if we aren’t careful.
Is this you? Don’t worry…I’ve got help coming
Note: Do you keep reaching for your phone (even though it doesn’t help) during times of stress at home? CLICK HERE for some simple strategies to help you overcome the overwhelm so you enjoy the life in front of you and stop reaching for your phone!
Have Regular Individual Time
We know spending time with our children individually is valuable. Instead of waiting until you have a few free hours and childcare for the other siblings, start with something as simple as 15 minutes. You can let your child decide what to do for those 15 minutes once and the next time, you decide. Let your child know they have your undivided attention then give it to them.
When you begin interacting with your child regularly without distraction, the connection becomes stronger, reconnecting becomes easier, and the mom guilt you feel naturally subsides.
If regular 1:1 time helps those feelings of guilt subside, you know they were trying to lead you to more connection. Listen to them.
Make Time For Yourself Too
If you are desperate for time alone and then – when you have it – consumed by guilt you aren’t at home… you’re in the right place. The better connection you have with your children the more relaxed you are at the end of the day. You sense your children are okay, they’re happy.
This will allow you to take time for yourself and know – deep down – that it’s okay.
Before you take some time for yourself, spend quality time with your kids. Get down at their level, comment on what they’ve been up to. Roughhouse with them, read some stories, and play a game like tickle monster that’ll get them laughing and releasing pent up tension.
Below is a common cycle….
You feel stressed and overwhelmed throughout the day and mentally escape to make it through. The heart ties with your children suffer a bit which causes you guilt. Guilt leads into worry and more stress and then you need to escape to avoid feeling those feelings. Then you’re so consumed with escaping and avoiding stress you’re even less present with the kids.
It all starts with connection.
After going through a particularly stressful season (my father passing away, going under contract on a house, preparing to renovate and move, etc.) I found myself reaching for my phone Over and Over and Over.
Even while I did it, I hated it.
I’d go into my room to zone out for a few minutes then – when a tiny human came with a real need – I felt resentful they were interrupting my Instagramming or Facebooking or Houzzing or whatever I was doing.
I finally had a moment of clarity. I actually did not enjoy this time on my smartphone. I was just so stressed I wanted to escape from reality. But I did NOT want to pull away from my children. I could not allow myself to become a present but absent parent.
So I did the hard work – which turned out to be easier than I thought – and found freedom from my phone. True freedom. I started to enjoy the little moments again, started to feel alive and out of my head and into my own actual life.
If you struggle with the compulsion to grab your phone to escape your stress, then I’ve got something amazing coming for you. It’s called Slow Your Scroll, and you don’t want to miss it.
If you are stressed, overwhelmed, or drained… you aren’t alone.
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