Do you have stay-at-home mom guilt? Do you sometimes feel like you’re not measuring up to other moms out there? like you’re not doing enough as a mom? You’re not alone. Many mothers experience mom guilt.
Mom guilt is constantly feeling like other moms are doing this “mothering” thing way better than you. It’s the constant fear that if you are not doing one thing or another, you may damage your child for the rest of their lives.
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As a stay-at-home mom, I experienced a lot of guilt. No matter how much work I do at home, I always feel like I was not doing enough. My hard days’ work is not celebrated by anyone, because no one is around to see how much I have to do each day.
I cook, clean, do laundry, and sew ripped clothes back together. I run errands in stores, take care of the car, and pay bills. Most importantly, I take care of our child. If I hired someone to do these things for me, it would cost me a fortune.
Even though I know how much I work, I always look at the working moms out there as somehow being better than I am because they earn a paycheck and still care for their kids. The stay-at-home mom guilt is very real.
Sometimes I still feel like I have to defend myself for why the house isn’t as clean as it’s supposed to be, or why we are having pizza for dinner tonight instead of the 5-star meal I’m known for.
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Types of Stay-at-Home Mom Guilt
Stay-at-Home Mom guilt about going back to work
When a stay-at-home mom has to return to work following the end of maternity leave, it is very common for mom guilt to kick in. You may feel like you’re abandoning your child in the pursuit of money.
You may also feel guilty because the amount of time you will physically spend with your child will now be limited.
I too was faced with the decision to head back to work after my son was born. My husband did not make enough money to cover our living expenses all on his own.
I knew that the time would come when I would have to put my baby in daycare and let someone else take care of him for me while I do my duty of providing for him. That was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.
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My guilt was triggered by the feeling of abandonment I experienced in my childhood and most of my teenage life.
I had a very unique upbringing; My siblings and I raised each other in the absence of our parents, who had to immigrate to the U.S. years before us to save up enough money to bring us over one day.
I always swore that I would do things differently when I became a mother. I promised my son that I would be there for every step of his life, so making the decision to put him in daycare was very tough on me.
I felt like I was failing him. My fear was that he would forget who his mother was and he would be closer to the daycare caretakers than he would be to me.
Want to know what helped me overcome this guilt?
I woke up every morning telling myself that I was doing what was best for my family. I want you to remember this. Just because you leave your child each day doesn’t mean that they will leave your heart.
Trust me when I say that your child will NOT forget who their mother is, It is the quality of time you spend with your child that matters more than the quantity.
You may be afraid of missing the milestones but I’m here to tell you that there will be many milestones in their lives that you will be there for.
If you don’t get to see that first step they took in daycare, guess what? There will be many steps after that. Years from now, it is not those first steps that you will remember.
You will remember all the times you consoled them when they were sad, the time you taught them to ride a bike, a car, and the many life lessons you taught them along the way. That’s what really matters at the end of the day.
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Stay-at-home mom guilt about having a second child
Does your stay-at-home mom guilt come from the fact that you’re having another baby when your first one is still very young?
Perhaps you feel like you just can’t handle raising another baby because you’re overwhelmed with raising the first one.
In this case, you must do what is best for your mental health. Remember the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child?” You don’t have to raise them all on your own. Find resources out there to help you.
Ask for help from friends and relatives, and find a mom group where you can get support from other moms who have been through this situation before.
A good resource is the App “Peanut” which is a place where you can meet local moms in your area for playdates and friendship.
Whatever you’re going through, know that you’re not alone.
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Stay-at-home mom guilt about being on one income
To help with this situation, you can look up governmental programs in your state that could provide some financial assistance to help your family.
Another wonderful resource I used when my son was born was my local “Buy Nothing Group” on Facebook.
Buy Nothing features people in your area giving away used and new items they no longer need, rather than throwing them away.
You can get baby items from clothes to strollers all for free. Try searching on Facebook to find a buy-nothing group near you.
For example, if you live in Queens NY, you would search “buy nothing group queens NY” on Facebook.
Even though your budget may be tight for the next few years, I know that you will do a great job of taking care of all your kids.
I know this because you’re here right now reading this post to find solutions so that you CAN be a good parent for your kids.
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How to overcome Stay-at-home mom guilt
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So how do you fight against this type of guilt?
1. Be your own cheerleader!
It seems so simple, but how often do we pat ourselves on the back and say “well done?” when was the last time you were truly proud of your accomplishments as a stay-at-home mom?
We work so hard for everyone else, that we don’t take the time to praise ourselves for all that we do. The next time you’re feeling like you’re not working hard enough, I want you to count 5 things you’ve accomplished today.
It doesn’t need to be something grand. It can be as simple as, “I made breakfast”.
2. Keep the focus on your kids.
Remember that you’re not staying at home because you’re lazy and hate earning a living. You’re staying at home because you and your significant other have decided that YOU are the best person to care for your child.
So whenever you feel like you’re not measuring up to other working moms or anyone else, I want you to go and spend some quality time with your kid(s).
Turn off the TV, put down the cell phone, save the chores for later, and be present for them. Your kids will remember the memories you make with them for many years to come. This is why you’re home.
3. Write a simple to-do list and stick to it
As moms, we have the tendency to want to do it all. When you’re a stay-at-home mom, you feel the pressure even more because everyone is relying on you to do it all.
What has helped me to combat this overwhelming need to do it all is creating a to-do list each day.
I intentionally write only 5 things on my to-do list. I then rank each item from most important to least important.
I spend my day trying to accomplish only the items on my list. I usually feel the need to push myself and do more chores, but I work hard to stop myself.
When my 5 chores are done, I spend the rest of my time with my kid. I try to always remember that I am home not just to take care of the house but to take care of my kid.
4. Work on your mental health
It is very easy for stay-at-home moms to get depressed. When you compare your life to that of others, the grass is always greener on the other side.
It is also very isolating to be a stay-at-home mom. Not everyone understands us. That is why it is very important to build your mom tribe. These are the friends that will carry you through the rough patches in life.
This is why you need to work on your mental health. Try speaking daily affirmations to yourself each morning, and repeating them throughout the day. Here are some that you can try.
- I can grant myself some leisure time each day and not feel guilty about it.
- Every part of me is beautiful.
- I can validate my hard work and be proud of myself
- I don’t need recognition from others to feel worthwhile. I am worthwhile
If you need to, you can get a trusted mental health counselor to help you through these feelings of isolation and depression. You can check Psychology Today to find certified mental health counselors in your area.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to deal with mom guilt when a child gets hurt
Did your baby fall off the bed? Did they fall down in the playground?
At some point in motherhood, one of these is going to happen. It is simply inevitable.
I remember the first time my baby fell. He was about 4 months old, learning to sit up unassisted. My husband was sitting with him on the couch. He got up for what seemed like 2 seconds to grab something off the floor.
The next thing I heard was a loud bang and then a wailing cry that lasted for what seemed like an eternity. I felt like such a horrible mother, and my husband and I cried because we felt like such bad and negligent parents.
We checked him for all the signs of a severe head injury after we called the pediatrician. He was completely fine and stopped crying after a few minutes, but It took us a few days to get over the guilt of this.
According to Cleveland Clinic “falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in kids”. It is extremely common and usually is not a serious event.
Of course, you should always check your child for signs of severe injury such as vomiting, bleeding, swelling, and concussion for the next 24 hours following a fall. After you’ve ruled all those things out, you can let your heart relax and stop feeling guilty.
At the end of the day, we realized that we were not perfect parents. We will make mistakes throughout the course of raising our children.
There will be many more falls and many more crying, but as long as we love our children and do all we can to keep them safe and healthy, then that’s all that matters.
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I hope you’ve learned how to overcome mom guilt and enjoy motherhood from reading this post.
Related Motherhood Articles
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What do stay-at-home moms do at home? (SAHM Duties List)
15 Easy Lunch Ideas for Busy Stay-at-Home Moms
My Top Recommendations For Self-Care
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Make Mom Friends Using the Peanut App
- I made all my mommy friends using Peanut
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- Find friends whose kids are in the same age group as yours
- Sign up for Peanut Here
Great tips! Working mom guilt affects every mom and is more important now than ever before to learn how to manage it in light of all the pressures of social media.
There is a lot of pressure out there for moms to be able to do it all, even while working outside the home. I think it’s important to be realistic with our expectations. Thanks for reading!
These are great tips for overcoming mom guilt, and ways to help yourself enjoy motherhood, rather than endure it. I especially appreciate the point about “you’re doing the best you can for your children”.
Thank you. I appreciate you reading
I certainly had the SAHM guilt when we first moved to Japan. I wasn’t working and feeling like I wasn’t a real contributor. Thanks for mentioning this feeling, it’s not often talked about. Great post, I’m sure many mom’s can identify. Be well!
So cool that you live in Japan!
I know the feeling of SAHM guilt very well. I try to remember that if I was being paid for all the things I did as a mom, I would be making bank each month lol. We do it all for love, not for money.
I had no idea that this was a thing, thank you for sharing, I definitely learned something!
Glad you learned something. Thanks for reading!
This post definitely hits home! As a full-time working mom, I have felt my fair share of mom guilt. I agree with the statement about quality over quantity. My biggest problem is being on my phone while my kids are around. This is something I want to improve on! Great article!
I know the hard work of teachers. I was one was many years. Full-time working moms are amazing for doing it all. It’s not easy to put down technology since it’s such a big part of our lives. I’m also working on that too!
“I had a very unique upbringing; My siblings and I raised each other in the absence of our parents, who had to immigrate to the U.S. years before us to save up enough money to bring us over one day.” This really tugged at my heart strings.
Your article is very well written and moving (and I’m not a mom).
Thank you very much. Glad you liked it
Wow. This blog post is very informative. There’s a lot of tips to pick for moms. Good work
I struggle with mom guilt still to this day! Thank you for sharing
I resonate with this as my maternity leave will be ending soon and my daughter will be starting daycare. Great tips to help with my mom guilt!
It’s a struggle but you’re not alone!. Glad I could help
Mom guilt comes at every stage of this motherhood journey. I think I got better at dealing with these feelings as my kids got older. Giving yourself some grace is so important!