Mom Guilt: How to Escape its Talons


Mom Guilt. Or, more accurately, Parent Guilt. It’s real. And it eats away at our confidence to parent with peace and connectedness. But does it have to?

I’ve been pondering this a lot lately as I navigate a new phase of parenting. With all six kids now school-age, our days are bursting at the seams with activities, leaving me breathless most days.

Questions swirl through my head. Did I spend enough time with the littlest today? Do I need to ramp up my efforts with science experiments for the nine-year-old? How can I help my teen through his math anxiety? The questions are endless. Essentially they are all asking…

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Am I doing enough?

These questions can lead to a barrage of negative thoughts about all the ways we’re not living up to our expectations and ideals. I didn’t read picture books to the little one. I didn’t take the time to sit with the teen and work through those math problems. I didn’t play that game that I promised.

In reality, the day could have flowed smoothly, but somehow I ended up focusing on all of the things I didn’t do, instead of those I did. I read aloud for an hour while the youngest four played with legos. I settled in next to the teen to listen to him share about the thoughts that have been rolling around in his mind. I prepared a healthy dinner that nourished us all. I drove an hour and a half to swim practice and played with my kids in the pool while we were there.

I feel the constant tug between guilt and good enough daily.  Recently, though, I started dabbling in mindfulness meditation with the 10% Happier app. It has helped me start to be more aware, more mindful, of when the questions and negative thoughts pop up. And boy, do they pop up more often than I realized!  

I am learning to let the thoughts flow without judging myself (at least some of the time). I know this is just the beginning of the journey and that I will always be evolving with it,  but I am trusting the process.

I am constantly surprised that just by naming the feeling, its power over me dissipates. “Hey, there’s that mom guilt!” Poof! Just by calling it out, by being mindful that these thoughts are popping up, I’m able to intentionally shift my focus from the negative, can’t-do-enough attitude, to the wow-I-did-a-lot today viewpoint.

Why am I fighting myself?

One of the most recent videos I watched on the app explained how we, as humans, seem wired to look for challenges even when everything is flowing smoothly. Wow! Truth bomb!

While I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in this, I’m sad that we seem to be fighting ourselves so often. This makes me even more eager to explore mindfulness as a way to step outside the cycle.

After some pondering, I am trying to reframe my constant questioning and worrying from the negative to a new, more gentle view. I am leaning into a new view of my questions. My questions are a self-reflection on the heart of my family.  My questions bring me closer to the truth for my family right now.

This may seem overly simplistic and obvious, but when we are stuck in this cycle of questioning → negative thoughts → questioning → self-doubt, it can be challenging to step aside and see it in a new light. By pausing to reframe my questions, I slow the way they swirl in my head and begin to sift through them to find their core.

Questions lead us to new insight

Our questions are a good thing! The essence of each one is asking, “Am I giving what I can right now?” Sometimes that answer may be, “No, I can carve out ten minutes in the morning to read to my little girl.” But sometimes, the answer is, “Yes, I am giving all I can right now and that is enough.”

I am learning to embrace this question, not to produce guilt, but as a beacon to guide my daily decisions, encouraging me to stay in tune with my family's needs. Embracing mindfulness is gifting me with the grace to watch the ebb and flow of these thoughts without judging them or myself. Questions that arise from mom guilt are simply tools on the journey of connected, peaceful parenting.

It is my hope that you find peace in your questions and that they bring you closer to your family’s truth.


Homeschool Encouragement: 21 Posts from Inspiring Moms

2017 has arrived!  Over the past few weeks, I've enjoyed looking back over the blogs of fellow homeschoolers, re-reading the posts that encouraged me throughout 2016.  Here, I've gathered together some of my favorites about Connecting with Our Kids, Encouragement for the Homeschool Mom, Self Care & Awesome Adulting, Creative Homeschooling and Sharing Poetry with Our Kids.  I hope you'll find a nugget of wisdom, a seed of inspiration as you prepare for the year ahead!  Happy New Year!

Connecting with Our Kids

Why Focus on Building Relationships in our Homeschool by Jessica @ Intentional in Life

Curious Over Furious by Heather @ wellermomma blog

Educating the Tortoise and the Hare by Amanda @ Raising daVinci

 

Encouragement for the Homeschool Mom

Homeschooling Translated featured here at Nurtured Roots

Quitting is the Greatest Victory featured here at Nurtured Roots


Comparison - Thief of Joy and Happiness by Nadine @ Up Above the Rowan Tree

Tackling Mommy Guilt by Mary @ Not Before 7

Homeschooling Mama, Do You Need Some Encouragement? by Dachelle @ Hide the Chocolate
 

Creative Homeschooling

Better Learning through Board Gaming by Lynna @ Homeschooling Without Training Wheels

The Unique Power of the Homeschool Parent: Innovation by Mary @ Not Before 7

Day in the Life of a Working Homeschool Mom by Amanda @ Raising daVinci

Creating a Home-Centered Homeschool Room by Melissa @ Soaring Arrows



Why I've Flipped Our Homeschool Routine by Nadine @ Up Above the Rowan Tree

Brown Paper Packages by Jenny @ Where Life is Real
 

Sharing Poetry
with our Kids

100 Poetry Books for Kids by Lynna @ Homeschooling without Training Wheels

Tips for Reading Poetry by Jenny @ Where Life is Real


The Endearing Art of Poetry Tea Time by Melissa @ Soaring Arrows
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a Book for That, Day 5: What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

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31 days large

There's a Book for That, Day 5:
What the Most Successful People
Do Before Breakfast

I just stumbled across this little gem and it was so inspiring! I hesitated as to whether or not to include it in this series because it isn’t exactly a story, though it does include several vignettes that perfectly illustrate the author’s well-thought-out point. After careful consideration, I did decide to share this book in my write31days challenge because What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast will jumpstart your learning, whatever that may be.

It will also help you learn more about yourself & what you value. And it will help you decide if the latter is reflected in how you spend your time. I don’t know about you, but this is something I need to revisit often. One of the great things about this book is that it's short and easy to read. Something even better is that there is an audio version available on YouTube. It takes only an hour to listen to and could significantly change your approach to your morning and your whole day!

I Hate October

I hate October. Ok, maybe I don’t hate it. There are the leaves dripping with their colored gems, and the crispness of the air, that reminder of summer’s warmth mixed with a hint of winter’s chill. There is a freshness, even as the natural world prepares to slumber. And on most days the sunshine still shines bright enough for us to dance with our shadows on our daily walks. But in October’s past, I was not able to see the sun or the colors or appreciate the uniqueness of the autumn air. Sure, my eyes could see them but my heart could not. I was too focused on the rainy days and on the leaves that lay brown and dingy on the ground and on the nights. The longer, darker nights and shorter, rainier days.

October really isn’t to blame but it just happened to be the month that everything always seemed to fall apart. It took me many years of watching my typically positive attitude reduce itself to nothing more than the muddy leaves trampled outside my door. This is what October did to me, or more accurately, what I allowed October to do to me. It took me many years of watching the re-run of the show I call October for me to begin to put the pieces together. Shorter days, less sunshine, smiles turning into grimaces, exhaustion turning into depression (or maybe it is the other way around, I’m still not sure), happy, patient mommy turning into snappy, critical, definitely-not-fun-to-be-around mommy.

In the years before I saw the pattern, I played the “if-only game.” If only {insert any worldly desire}, things would be better. I reasoned that a bigger house, more money, less rowdy kids, a second car, and a million other things would make me feel better. Of course, they wouldn’t and didn’t even if a wish did happen to come true. I still felt lousy and would much rather have stayed in bed all day than do just about anything else. Fortunately, a power higher than myself worked wonders and I managed never to fall into a place where I couldn’t care for my kids. I may not have been doing it to my standards but at least I was caring for them.

It got so I was afraid of October. I felt like I was an innocent bystander just waiting for the storm to sweep me away and praying that I wouldn’t do too much damage with my harsh words and frustrated scowls until I recovered myself sometime a few months later. I did try not to get swept away, but nothing I did seemed to help.

Looking back, I can see that what I did try; the occasional walk, remembering to take my vitamins a few days a week, stealing ten minutes here or there to read a book, these were all good but not enough. I was sabotaging myself by not being consistent with my self-care. Until rather recently, I still held the misguided notion that self-care was treating myself once in a while to something out of the ordinary. It’s not! Self-care, really effective self-care, is caring for myself, mind, body, and spirit, with the same tenacity and diligence with which I care for every other member of my family. I am, after all, a member of my family.

So now, instead of the occasional walk, I am making it a priority to be active every day and to run at least 3 times a week. I am being attentive to my need for sleep, even if it means heading to bed with the littlest one. I am more conscientious than ever about fueling my body and my mind with the nutrition it needs and that includes many B-vitamins, magnesium, and St. John’s Wort, just to name a few. I am reading to myself and my kids every day. And I am writing! Nothing nourishes me more than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and letting my thoughts flow free with the words that are bottled up in my mind all day long. Somehow, the paper and ink mix together and transform my jumbled thoughts into something beautiful. Something that lays my soul bare, emptying and filling me at the same time. Sometimes I keep the words to myself and sometimes I bring them here, hoping that they will bless someone else just as I am continually surprised by how much they have blessed me.

So here, now, I am unapologetically caring for myself. The combination of ordinary ways varies a little from day to day and certainly takes some creativity, but the important thing is that it happens. Every. Day. I find it ironic that now, when my life is the busiest it has ever been with raising six kiddos, I am finally making time to really care for myself. But it is because of them that I am inspired to be the most loving, caring version of myself. And to do that, to show them the love that overflows, I must first shower it upon myself. As I do, I might just learn to love October too.