If you’re like most of my clients, you’ve got A LOT on your plate. You’re juggling so much between your kids, your marriage, your home, your to-do list, and your work. HOW are you expected to “do it all” while smiling, practicing self-care, and baking cookies on the side? Here’s the real answer that no one tells you: you’re not! You’re not supposed to do “everything for everyone always.” So, what are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to navigate and balance your very full life with family, yourself, and your work? I’ve got you.
Helpful Tips To Overcome Working Mom Guilt
I’m sharing 9 helpful tips to overcome working mom guilt that actually work. I’ve coached thousands of moms on the topic of overwhelm and work-life balance. On top of that I’m certified in coaching tools that help, as well as being a student of everything I teach. I’ve gone from an attorney to a CFP to now a business owner, all while starting and growing my family, which currently includes two boys under two years old.
So, let’s dive in! Here’s how you can overcome working mom-guilt.
First: redefine mom guilt
Redefining mom guilt involves a mindset shift. Embrace the idea that experiencing guilt doesn’t equate to failure. That is to say: it is normal to experience feeling mom guilt. It doesn’t mean you’ve actually done anything wrong. It’s a natural response to the challenges of balancing work and family in modern motherhood. That said, it doesn’t have to be the way forward. Once you normalize feeling mom guilt without beating yourself up about it, you can work on your mindset to reduce (and even stop) feeling mom guilt.
Use this mindset for this tip: “Mom guilt isn’t a problem. It’s a normal part of navigating work life with family life. I can feel mom guilt and it means nothing about me as a mom.”
Second: get out of the comparison trap
The comparison trap is pervasive, especially in today’s hyper-connected world. Limit your social media use and start practicing gratitude for personal growth, that way you focus your attention on individual progress rather than external benchmarks.
Your brain is hardwired to look at what other moms are doing because being included was important to your survival brain (evolutionarily, exclusion meant death). This means you need to rewire your brain to understand that what the mom next door is doing doesn’t actually matter that much. It certainly doesn’t impact life or death the way your brain thinks it does!
Use this mindset for this tip: “There are many ways to be a good mom, and I’m the exact mom my kids are supposed to have. What she’s doing as a mom is really none of my business. I’m a really great mom.”
Third: notice your own negative self talk
So often, we’re our own worst inner critics. This happens when we have an inner dialogue that’s harsh, mean, and downright judgmental of just about everything we do. Negative self talk sounds like, “I can’t give my kids what they deserve” and “I’m constantly failing as a mom” and “I’m just not cut out for this.”
Negative self talk doesn’t necessarily sound like hate, but instead is simply the disapproval of ourselves. Most of the time we can never imagine saying to friends what we say to ourselves. We’re that mean in our own heads.
The best way to get started with reframing your own negative self talk is simply to notice it without being mad it’s there. Just witness it. Become the watcher of your own mind.
Use this mindset for this tip: “It’s interesting my brain thinks it’s useful to be so mean towards myself. I’m going to be curious about this. Even if what I’m thinking is true, if it’s not kind, then I want to choose to think something more supportive. I choose to be kind to myself. I deserve it.”
Fourth: shift from judgment to curiosity
A lot of working mom guilt comes from “shoulding” on ourselves. Thinking “I should spend more time with my kids” or “I shouldn’t spend so much time working” or “I should be better at playing with my kids” or “I shouldn’t think about work when I’m with my kids.” All this “shoulding” is judgment and when we’re in judgment it’s like being in fog; it clouds the way we think about everything. There’s no room for connection and love (towards ourselves and others) when in judgment.
A really simple way to get out of judgment is to shift into curiosity. Judgment is “I know” and curiosity is “I wonder.” So, start wondering about yourself more. It sounds like this, “I wonder what’s going on for me that I had such a strong reaction there” or “I wonder what’s the best way for me to navigate this season of life” or “I wonder what else I can think to create connection with my kids.”
Use this mindset for this tip: “There’s nothing I ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be doing to be a good enough mom. I have my own back for the choices I’m making regarding work life and family life. My life is full, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Fifth: give yourself validation
Working mom guilt can come from wishing someone would just acknowledge how much you have on your plate. Instead of waiting for someone to come and give you the praise you’re looking for (and that you deserve), give it to yourself. Either look in the mirror and tell yourself what you want to hear or write yourself a letter with the exact words you wish someone would say to you.
Self-validation is incredibly powerful for creating positive feelings around the decisions you’re making with respect to work, family, and your life. Tell yourself you’re doing a great job, because you are!
Use this mindset for this tip: “I’m a great mom, a really great mom. I’m also a human mom, and my goodness isn’t impacted even when I mess it all up. I’m half mess and half amazing, like all moms. And I love all of me.”
- Healthy Habits I’ve Adopted In Motherhood (podcast)
- How To Become A More Mindful Mom (free class)
- Thursday Inspo (weekly email)
Sixth: focus on quality, not quantity
Quality time is more valuable than quantity of time. Whether it’s 10 minutes, 30 minutes or more than that, focus on being screen-free, and getting into your child’s world for connected play. The quality matters much more than the quantity. So give yourself a break! The person who spends the most time with their kids doesn’t “win” and they’re not “better” than you. This is about connection. You can spend high quality time that’s connected for just a few minutes and it can be plenty.
Use this mindset for this tip: “I’m present and connected when I play with my kids, because I know that quality over quantity is most important in our relationship.”
Seventh: learn to pause and breathe deeply
With a full plate it’s easy to have your nervous system activated, which results in that “go-go-go” feeling and inability to sit still and rest. Through practicing mindfulness, you can learn to pause, take deep breaths, and get more grounded where your feet are. This results in feeling more at ease and experiencing more joy, even with lots to do.
Use this mindset for this tip: “I give myself permission to be where my feet are. My goodness isn’t tied to how much I do. Pausing and taking a deep breath is important. I feel at peace, grounded, and connected.”
Eighth: define success as a working mom
It’s common to think you’re constantly failing as a mom without ever having defined success. I’ve coached hundreds of women who’ve said “I feel like I’m unable to balance work life and family life, and feel like I’m failing as a mom.” Yet, nowhere have they said what it means to succeed. There’s this pervasive “I’m not doing enough” mindset that they’re subconsciously thinking, and that you might be thinking too. Notice this. Do you think you’re supposed to be doing more? Why? What is “enough”?
The reality is that this is coming from the brain’s way of trying to be “good enough” when you already are good enough. It’s scarcity thinking that can be completely turned around so you finally feel good enough forever. You’ll still make mistakes (because you’re human!) but you won’t make it mean anything about your goodness.
To get started, define what success looks like as a working mom. What are your values? What time allocation do you want to spend working vs. with your family? What does “balance” feel like to you internally?
When you decide what you want to value, prioritize, and how to spend your time, you’ll show up more intentionally and feel more connected to your choices, thus minimizing mom guilt.
Use this mindset for this tip: “I believe in wearing many hats, including both a mom hat and a working hat. I don’t think I should be with my kids 24/7. I want to have many identities and roles in my life. This means that success as a working mom means spending time with both my kids and with my work. I’m not supposed to be perfect at it, but I know I’m doing it the best way I know how to and that is good enough.”
Ninth: join a coaching membership for moms
Modern motherhood is designed for mom guilt, but that doesn’t have to be your destiny. Join me inside the Mom On Purpose Membership and you’ll get to experience applying these tools firsthand and see the profound impact they can have on your life, specifically how you can get freedom from mom guilt. Learn more about the Mom On Purpose Membership here.
Use this mindset for this tip: “Investing in my own mental and emotional wellness is a top priority so that I can be the woman, wife, and mom I want to be.”
A Final Note
The best way to get started overcoming working mom guilt is to start practicing a more empowered mindset so you can show up in both your personal and professional life as the mom you want to be.
You got this, mama. Keep going!