Take a look at any parenting magazine and you will see idealistic pictures of the “perfect” family. There are literally thousands of books and websites dedicated to helping parents with everything from arts and crafts to finding the right disciplinary style. You probably even know a mom or two that seem to always have it all together. With all these examples of perfection, it’s easy to find yourself suffering from a bad case of “mommy guilt”. Here are a few ways to minimize that.
Recognize that no one is THAT perfect. You know that mom that always looks like she has it together? The one who is always impeccably dressed and somehow manages to have a beautiful, organized house, who makes the best goodies for group functions and has the kids that never misbehave? The truth is that people who look like they always have it together rarely do. She might be really good at hiding her mess or may even have secret issues you would never suspect. In fact, she likely feels every bit as guilty about certain things in her life as you do.
Accept your failings. Admit it; there are just some things about being a parent that you are not great at. Though it is always possible to improve areas of your life, it takes a lot of work and must be done in small doses. The first step to improving an aspect of your parenting is to accept your weaknesses. Once you do that you will feel freer and more in control.
Work on your strengths. For every mommy struggle you have, there is also something that you are really good at. Maybe you are horrible at getting forms filled out and returned to your child’s school, but you are really good at making sure your child gets his homework done on time. Maybe you are bad at making sure your child cleans his room, but you have a strong focus on having one-on-one time with him. Maybe it is only after you yell at your child out of frustration that you go back to him and apologize for mishandling the situation. When you begin to feel the remorse, rise up and think of all the great things you do as a mom every day; you are certain to feel better about yourself.
Find ways to fill in the holes. So you have accepted your imperfections. Now it is time to find ways to fill in for your shortcomings. Perhaps your parenting partner has strengths where you have weaknesses. Be sure to allow your partner to help you in the areas you need it. Maybe you have a friend that is really good at the very aspect you feel weak in. Ask her to help keep you on track in some way.
Make small changes. Often when people make changes they have great resolve and start on a new journey in a big way. Perhaps you started the school year thinking that this year would be different. Then, a few weeks in, all your new resolutions had fallen by the wayside and you were right back where you started. Instead of trying to make changes in a big way, start small. Find just one tiny area that you believe is important to make changes in and focus on that and that change alone for six whole weeks. As that becomes a habit, add another one. Remember, no small change is insignificant.
Forgive yourself. All this talk regarding imperfections and changes often leaves you feeling guilty about the past. The most important thing to remember is that you love your children and are doing the best you can for them. Years from now they will not care about your imperfections as long as they felt your love. Forgive yourself of your past mistakes and focus on connecting with your children. In the end, this is what they need the most. They do not need you to be a perfect mom, but they do need you to be a loving and forgiving one – even to yourself.