Most moms know exactly what mom shame and mom guilt feel like. It’s become a part of our daily lives and left us feeling like we’re never good enough to deserve, well, anything. Unfortunately, these emotions often leave moms dealing with stress, burnout, and depression — and it’s all the direct result of mom shame and guilt.
As a real-life mom and a therapist who specializes in women’s mental health, Kaitlin Soule, LMFT and author of A Little Less of A Hot Mess, offers the following suggestions for moms who want to lessen the unrealistic standards placed on them by society and themselves. That way, they can find peace and happiness once more.
Debunk The Myths Of Motherhood
The unrealistic standards moms deal with day in and day out aren’t new phenomena. In fact, The New York Times says this issue has gradually increased since the 1970s and reached its height with the current generation of parents. Unfortunately, we won’t make any real gains until we first debunk the myths of motherhood that, according to Soule, “fuel our mom guilt.”
These myths include the belief that our kids’ needs are more important than our own, that our spouse’s time is more valuable than our own, and the theory that living like this is “just what it means to be a mom.” These myths become a sort of recurring monologue inside of our heads, pushing us to do more and be more. However, Soule says debunking these myths and rewriting that internal narrative can ultimately help us experience more freedom and joy as we pursue a life with purpose and meaning — one that’s more aligned with our values instead of these false expectations.
Stop “Shoulding” On Yourself
In addition to the myths we believe about motherhood, many of us experience shame and guilt because we constantly compare ourselves to other moms. When this happens, we often fall into the trap of listing all the things we “should” be doing as a mom. While this may seem like a motivational tool, most experts agree it’s actually highly defeating and can make you feel like you lack control over your life (not to mention it makes you feel like a failure).
This is exactly why Soule says it’s time to let go of the “shoulds” we place on ourselves. Instead, she says we should look for ways to live by our own values and be our authentic selves for our own sake and for our kids. This not only helps boost our overall life satisfaction, but it also teaches our children how to embrace themselves completely, which is something we all want for our kids.
Bring Your Concerns To Your Partner
One of the most harmful things we do as moms is tell ourselves that motherhood isn’t equal to a career. When we do this, we convince ourselves that we must accept every request our spouse or anyone else places on us, which isn’t true at all. In fact, taking on more than our fair share of the housework and child-rearing duties doesn’t make us more valuable — it just leaves us feeling resentful and burnt out.
Therefore, Soule says we need to learn to have conversations with our partners that bring up our concerns. The goal should always be to strive for equality, which may require you to put new systems in place to help with household organization. Just remember, the goal is making things fair and equal, so you have time to do more than just wait on everyone hand and foot.
Remember, Your Needs Matter, Too!
Finally, and probably most importantly, we have to stop putting our needs last if we want to truly get out from under the unrealistic standards society has placed on us. When we spend all of our energy on our children, our spouses, and our careers, we are left feeling drained and insignificant. But that’s far from the truth, and it’s time we realize that! After all, we can’t meet anyone else’s needs until we meet our own.
However, Soule says this goes beyond just meeting your basic needs like eating and showering. Prioritizing yourself also means making time for your wants, desires, and passions. This will help us rediscover our worth and avoid burnout, depression, and other difficult emotions moms often feel.
So, what do you say, mom? Are you ready to break free of the unrealistic standards society has placed on us and start living your life as a free woman again? Well, then it’s time to stop focusing on all the things you should be doing or aren’t doing well and instead invest your energy into just living as your authentic self. It may sound like a lot of work right now, but you can do it!
And, if you’re looking for more practical tips and vulnerable stories that can help you rediscover yourself, check out Kaitlin Soule’s book, A Little Less of a Hot Mess: The Modern Mom’s Guide to Growth & Evolution.
Previously published on Moms.com.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels
I believe that depression, dissatisfaction with oneself and depression is the scourge of the modern world. People no longer just communicate, they do not find friends and often live in their own virtual world. People have forgotten how to enjoy the simple, but this is so necessary. You need to walk more in the fresh air, help your relatives and friends, try to find a hobby to your liking. I wish everyone to be just happy