Guilt – it’s a trap that many parents fall into. We worry we’re not doing a good enough job – and these feelings of self-doubt are only intensified by the photos of picture-perfect families that dominate our social media feeds. In fact, 73 percent of moms say they try to give the impression that their life is under control (MRI, 2017).

As a working mom, I know these feelings of guilt and inadequacy well. And, in my 15-year career as an early childhood development and parenting expert, I’ve seen many other parents struggle with them, too. Moms and dads alike feel guilty they’re not spending enough time with their children due to career demands, or they feel that they’re falling behind at work because home life is so demanding!

Watch what happens when five working moms struggling with guilt get a special message from the most important people in their world:

Parent Guilt – It’s a Real Thing

Parental guilt is something many of us struggle with – research proves it:

  • 56 percent of parents of children under age 18 say it is difficult to balance the responsibilities of their job with those of their family (Pew Research Center, 2013).
  • 85 percent of working moms say that they frequently wish they had more time to spend with their family (MRI 2017).
  • 76 percent of all moms say that they are so busy, they often can’t finish everything they need to do in a day (MRI 2017).

Because we often struggle with guilt, redirecting our thoughts is the key to conquering those feelings. Rather than focusing on what you’re doing “wrong,” focus on what you’re doing right: raising your children to be kind, respectful and happy humans.

How to Avoid Guilt

When I coach parents, I ask them to set realistic expectations and use some positive thinking to overcome self-deprecating feelings. Here are some tips for how to avoid the parental guilt trap:

Stop trying to be perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent and striving for this unachievable goal will inevitably lead to disappointment. Give yourself a break and simply do the best you can. If you feel chronically overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to seek counseling from a professional. But first, let the perfection aspirations go!

Acknowledge that you can’t do it all. According to Pew Research Center, nearly 40 percent of full-time working mothers say they always feel rushed. I’m not sure when we moms adopted the belief that we have to be all things to all people (many dads feel this way, too!), but it’s important to realize you’re only human and there are only so many hours in a day. Delegate and allow others to help. Divide parenting and household duties with your partner. Engage your “tribe” – whether that’s grandparents, neighbors or fellow parents – to help share the load when you need extra hands or a break.

Seek to understand and support your child’s needs. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that your child’s tantrum or rebellion is a result of you failing as a parent, seek to understand the reason for his behavioral outburst. Is he overly tired? Has he gone too long without a snack? Does he need a hug? Look for the simple solution first. If the behavior continues, seek support from a licensed child therapist who can provide play therapy and parenting support.

Make time for your own self-care. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to be present and provide the best care for your child. Take some time after work to listen to a guided relaxation or sneak in a quick workout before you head home. Listen to your body’s signals, get enough sleep and make sure to eat some veggies every day, too!

– Lynn Louise Wonders

For more parenting tips from Primrose Schools, check out the Pointers for Parents blog.

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