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Mom Guilt
Powerful Ways To Let. It. Go.


Iva: Hi and welcome to a new episode of The Mompreneur’s Guide to Work-Life Harmony. My name is Iva,



Desiree: And I'm Desiree



Iva: And we are here today talking about a topic that is so ever present in every mom's life. And I feel you and I both completely identify with it as well, which is mom guilt.



Desiree: Oh my god it's such a big topic isn't it.



Iva: Oh yes, it encompasses so many things! It's the feeling of coming up short, in all areas, but most specifically with our children, and also the feeling of shame for not doing things according to society's expectations. And also, this idea that being a perfect mom determines our worth in a way. Like we have to be super women at work and we have to be super women at home, and firing on all cylinders, all the time.



Desiree: So true. 



Iva: Yeah, and Amy Westervelt in her book, Forget Having It All, says it best, regarding this working mom dilemma. “We expect women to work like they don't have children and raise children, as if they don't work.” So any mom out there who's ever experienced this, please raise her hand.



Desiree: I'm raising both hands right now.



Iva: So Des, do you experience mom guilt on a daily basis?



Desiree: Have I ever, all the time. It's, it's like everything every little thing that I do during the day down to the smallest decision, mom guilt will creep in. And it's hard, it's like a vicious cycle of like questioning yourself all the time. And, but I don't know but also, research, I read this piece of research, that has actually shown that feeling guilty, doesn't actually change our future behaviors so that really does nothing for us. Rather, it gives us more power, or like gives the part of the brain more power, the part that seeks gratification, so it really does nothing for us. So I'm really thinking how can we change? Like how can we overcome this? because we can't really change the behavior, right, but we have to figure out how we can make better choices or compromises in challenging circumstances.



Iva: So, it can definitely be a mix of three components, which will further discuss but they have to do with mindset shifts. Being part of a tribe that values us, and cutting ourselves some slack. I mean, this doesn't mean that it's going to disappear in one go, but it will definitely help us navigate guilty feelings so much better. Because, let's face it, women nowadays, and us mompreneurs especially, we have a lot to deal with on an everyday basis, We have a lot on our plates.



Desiree: It's true. Because we are put in a challenging situation though, because, let's say, biologically we are just built to, you know, naturally have our children during like our peak years of where we should be having a career. Now, we as moms living abroad have the added challenge that we have to move countries every couple of years because of our husband's jobs, and that also leads us sometimes to have to leave our careers, earlier, or just like become creative with it like what we have, right? But it's, it's often not, not by our first choice, and we don't have families close by, often nowadays, extended families actually do live further apart as well but we don't even have them they're literally on a different continent so we don't even have that support network around us. You know, and so we're working really hard to regain sort of the independence to find our purpose again, and all of that. I mean these are circumstances that are just put on our way. Right. So how do we approach this mom guilt. 



Iva: You know, I feel that there's a lot of things that are going on with these thoughts, and the mindset that we are having that inner dialogue that's going on in our minds, and that we really need to examine. Because when you look back, you see that a lot of it has to do with the stories that we're telling ourselves in that moment, about whatever is happening. And we need to allow ourselves to be curious about what we're feeling, but not from a place where we are berating ourselves, and self-flagellating and being harsh for feeling the way that we do, because then it's just a very vicious cycle to be in. That's when the guilt comes up, and we start reacting to that guilt by feeling even worse. We just go down a downward spiral of feelings that it doesn't do any good for us in any way. 


So, this mindset shift that we have to start implementing in ourselves it's very easy to do because it's just to take a look from a place of curiosity. And when the guilt comes up, you tend to also have this feelings of shame. Or maybe you feel uncomfortable, and angry with yourself because you didn't manage the situation properly or according to what society says that you should have. And it's making sure that we are coming from a place of kindness, and acceptance about those negative feelings. Like, I am allowed to feel bad and guilty and probably angry, but I am not supposed to be harsh with myself when I'm feeling that way, because I understand that I feel this way because of this external social validation that is surrounding us. But that is not the problem. The problem is not accepting those feelings, and that they are there, and that they will happen every so often, and just being very kind to ourselves about it. 



Desiree: It's true. So, in order to really overcome this mom guilt or at least try to, we've really gone to, you know, to look at what are some concrete ways that can help us, that can help you to, in this journey as well, because there's I think there's no mom around here that is not faced with this problem, right. So we want to look at how we can change these circumstances, and the first one that we came across was really the, we need to find a better use of our emotional energies, which we have come to call Momergy right it's that unique mom energy within us, but we also must be really open. We must be honest, and we must be accepting of the new challenges that motherhood brings with us because it's really something like, Okay, we probably did not know all the changes that were coming our way when we first became mothers, but they are. So we need to face them and we need to be honest about it. And most of all we need to accept it and I think that can only be done with really good mindset shifts, and I always love to ask you, Iva about mindset shifts because I learned so much from you, about how you deal with certain situations, What are some of your tricks and biases that you have there. 



Iva: Okay. The first one that I that I can, that I can share that has been a game changer and it does work for the most part but then sometimes I forget to apply it, but it would have been a great one to have used today, when I was not feeling the best of moms, you know, when I was not feeling like I was the best mom out there. I would say is we should stop comparing our apple crumble to another Mama's tiramisu.



Desiree: True. Good one. A good analogy. 



Iva: Because we really it's, you know, what might work for someone else for their family dynamics, for their very particular set of circumstances, and life situations, might not be the best for me or my family or my current circumstances and life situation. And again, it's that constantly wanting to compare something that is not comparable. So, so that one is one that, that is definitely good to have as a reference point. Don't compare your apple crumble to another mama’s tiramisu. It's not the same thing, it's not the same recipe, it's not the same ingredients. It doesn't taste the same. It doesn't look the same. You know you can try to, I would say emulate. You know, if what you're after is to make a tiramisu yes, by all means, go and take a look at all the moms that are making tiramisus out there and get getting inspired by what they're doing and, but make it your own, at the end of the day. So you yourself will have your own spin on your tiramisu that nobody else will have. So, so that's one. And I would say, the other one, that might be also at the root of why we sometimes have this mom guilt, crawling on us.


It might have to do also a bit with the fact that sometimes we don't establish that connection with our kids. Because usually, you know, it mostly comes down with our kids. We don't have partner guilt for the most part.



Desiree: That's true, true. Why is it only with our kids?



Iva: Yes, we can go probably the whole day without communicating with our spouse, and then they come home and we're like, hey what is up, we catch up.


But we're not like oh my god, I forgot to text during lunch break, just to, you know, wish him a happy lunch, or I didn't, you know.



Desiree: Yeah, no, don't do that



Iva: It usually happens with our kids and I have a feeling that it might stem from the sense that we haven't created a connection during the day. And when we don't feel that we have done that, then we tend to feel guilty about other things that we are doing. 


So, what that looks like for me is, again, you know, I could be doing something on the computer and then, you know, my daughter might come and interrupt me and you know she wants me to read her story or, or she wants me to play with her a little bit, and I have to say, sometimes you know, honey, please, you know, give me another 10 minutes, give me another five minutes, and I'll be there with you. And in that moment maybe their face is a bit crestfallen. You know that they, they seem like okay 



Desiree: Yeah, like I'm disappointed. 



Iva: Yeah. And then you can now go down the path of saying like oh my God, I'm the worst because I just said no, right? My child is looking for connection and I'm saying I can't at the moment. But if you do make a point to have that connection afterwards. And you really make a point of being present, like you put away your phone and you really give them all of your attention for 15 minutes, then, you, you're pretty much, establishing that connection even though it wasn't in the moment that they wanted it, but we're making sure that at least they're getting it that day. 



Desiree: That's right yeah,



Iva: But that you were present at some point during the day and. And this brings me to my third point, which I would say that we have to also learn to accept the being good enough mentality about parenting, and about motherhood. Sometimes good enough is good enough.


Yeah, let it go. And that's where there's this element of, you know, we want to be the best and we want to excel and, and we want to be the Superwoman again, You know, we want to be the super woman that's typing in a million, you know, a million words per second. And then our child constantly wants to play and we're like yeah, yeah just three seconds and I'll finish this paragraphs and then off we go right. And I’m present with them and we did everything and I accomplished everything but sometimes, good enough is like Hey, I cannot bond with you until dinner time. And that’s my good enough for the day and it is what it is and accept that and not again sell-flagellate thinking that you came up short because you did not have three hours of connection to spare on that day.



Desiree: And every day will look different as well and every circumstance will look different but it's true, just always thinking. We are good enough. What we're doing is good enough, I mean we have happy children right so yeah I think we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves very, very true.



Iva: Yes, yeah. Yes.



Desiree: I also feel like what we put down as number two of our big quest for overcoming mom guilt is that we really need to feel valued and that I think that came about because a lot of moms, I had at least a lot of moms I've spoken to, often get that feeling of, I just want to quit. Either I just want to quit, or I just want a day off, which obviously we can't have a day off not really right as a mother until they're 18… 



Iva: A day off did not come with the motherhood gig.



Desiree: It does not come with a motherhood gig, no, not at all. So we can’t just quit or take off for a few days and go on a pseudo business trip or something, we cannot.


So, that feeling is often emotionally tied though to the feeling of guilt, this like, ugh I wanna throw in the towel right? Because we as moms, we need to feel valued, because before, we have always gotten praise, whether it's from our workplace or you know like our bosses or through some other situations, but now it is being around our kids, most of the time and as entrepreneurs often working on our own, we don't get this much praise anymore so our feeling of being valued goes down. However, when we do feel valued, we become more confident, and we become more accepting in the compromises that we do make. That we have to make every day.



Iva: Oh my God, I love what you just said, because it's so true. And as much as I love my kids, they can be very harsh dictators, for the most part, I mean, for them is a never-ending list of expectations. Right? Mommy, I want a pancake and I want it but I want to cut it this way or I want it in this flavor, and I want this ingredient and I want in on this plate and now I want you spinning, you know, a bowl in your nose to entertain me while I'm eating it and I also want this and also on that…So it's true what you say, like we, our children. We’re probably not going to get this until they are parents themselves that they'll come back and be like, Oh my God, thanks so much for everything you did mom.



Desiree: I have said that to my own mom actually, I did!



Iva: But I bet that you were not telling her that when you were five years old, or even older at least. We don't have that positive feedback from our kids



Desiree: Exactly 



Iva: So we have only the negative feedback, right? So when we say no, they throw their tantrums or when you know they're clearly annoyed that we made a decision about something that they didn't like or it didn't go their way. So, all we’re getting from them is, is very negative, real-time criticisms about what we’re doing.



Desiree: And so true and I mean, what we do for most of the day as well as a lot of routine things. So it's like they're not going to say thank you for brushing my teeth that, or thank you for pouring my favorite juice for breakfast or making my beds like, no, because they're like routine things that we need to do, we are doing because we are amazing moms, and we do. I know we all go the extra mile for our kids, but they don't necessarily see that because, yeah, I mean, you know, they don't praise us from head to toe, but sometimes I feel we need that because like, yeah, it helps us, in the not so pretty compromises, we do have to make as well. And also, like we have to make these compromises to strive to maintain our own identities, while taking care of everyone else in the family, you know, but we also want to keep our own identity. So, those days are really hard situations which are, which is why I find it so important to have this tribe of other moms who get you, who understand. 

Honestly, sometimes I sit there at dinner and I was like, I told my husband once, can you just, did you enjoy dinner? Was it good? Tell me, you know, why can't you just say that was really yummy? Or like, it'll just make me feel good, just say it to me once in a while, please? Like begging for praise sometimes just because I feel we do so much and we often get so little in return, you know, do you know what I mean?



Iva: Yeah, or what you said, sometimes we just need to vent. We just want someone that can say yes, I understand, I know how it feels. Not someone that is solving the problem for us but just someone that is there to listen, and maybe give us a word of encouragement and say like hey, 



Desiree: And to understand 



Iva: Yes, Yes, and having a tribe, a community, a group of friends, you know, anyone that is a cheerleader. And that is rooting for you and that gets you is so, so valuable, especially nowadays, with everything that is happening, that we really need to find that support system, ASAP.



Desiree: We do, we do. I think that's gonna just come and give us strength. Give us the confidence that we need sometimes just to make it through the day with our crown on our head straight. No, but it's I think it's super important.



Iva: And I think another important point to also keep mom guilt at bay is the ability to forgive ourselves.



Desiree: Very important


Iva: And to and to really start the day, like our children do _completely on a blank slate, Because sometimes it happens to me, I wake up and I'm still going through what happened the day before, you know. Something that I probably didn’t handle so well, or something I said that I probably shouldn't have said, or something or another. But sometimes I catch myself waking up and really having all this memories from the day prior or something that happened in the past. And, and I think forgiving yourself is about understanding that every moment is, is a new opportunity to start again. And to really, to really say, okay, you know, maybe the morning didn't go so well, we didn't really have a very smooth morning, for whatever reason, but we can always reset ourselves, and we can make a conscious decision to rescue the remainder of the day and say like, okay, in the afternoon, you know, I can start anew. 


I can do it better or I can practice being a little bit more patient, or, you know, like, we all know, sometimes what our weak points are, or we’re aware of what our triggers are right? What really detonate us, to the point we go off, right, then the nuclear bomb goes off, and then we regret it, and we feel guilty that we're, you know, everything comes in a downward spiral. So why not allow ourselves the opportunity to say like, Okay, well, you know, in the morning probably I got triggered in the morning, I got more frustrated than I should have. 

Now, let me try again. Yeah, let's just try again forgive yourself. We are humans.



Desiree: You know what helps me exactly with that step, so much? So, I, as everyone here knows, I love my essential oils, right? They certainly helped me throughout most of the day so before when I know_ I love how you say before that bomb detonates, right? First of all, I wear a blend called Stress Away as my perfume, and it does exactly that: it takes your stress away.


It's a beautiful blend that's completely uplifting, but also it makes me calm, it really calms me down! So that that's already my perfume, every day. then I have an oil called Valor, it's another really powerful blend that I have often if I need to take a minute, sometimes I do it honestly, I'll go to the bathroom, and say, I'll be right back! I go there I inhale it, just for one minute. I inhale it, it's like breathing in all of the courage, you know, to start back on that clean slate, and all the like, doubt and all the frustrations out. And it really helps me to balance myself, and it's amazing like I could not live with this blend like these two are probably on me at all times. 


So, there's so many little things that can help me through the day. And it has, it has been like a really big factor in helping me tackle this mom guilt as well. 



Iva: And, you know also forgiving ourselves and making peace with the fact that, you know, we can have it all, but not all on the same day.



Desiree: Yes, 



Iva: Or that we can do it all, but we cannot do it all on the same day, because that is a really liberating perspective to have, and sometimes we become prisoners to thinking that, during those 24 hours, everything on all fronts, needs to be done, and needs to be done to perfection. And that's how harsh we could get to be to ourselves.



Desiree: I love that! And I think it comes all the way back to the mindset shifts, right, that you were talking at the beginning and it's true we can have it all, we can! That has not changed, but the time in which we can make it happen that has changed. That shouldn't get us down at all_ we just need to change the way we look at things. 

Yeah, and at the end of the day we're doing so much, and we often don't realize. I mean, again, I realized that sometimes when we talk to each other, you know like, I just came back from doing this and this and this, and while I'm telling you all that I’m like: I actually did a lot today! But we often don't give each other credit or like give ourselves credit for it either. 


I mean, think about, like, a co-worker before that comes in, I mean we don't really go to an office at the moment, we home office, but like if we, if someone goes to work and we have that colleague that says, Oh, I'm so tired! and you're like: Why? What, how's your morning been? “ I don't know, I got up late,  couldn't get out of bed, you know, had a shower, had a coffee, scrolled down through my Instagram and you know, just grabbed a croissant on the way and I'm so tired.”


And you’re like, “Well, I already, you know, had to, like, argue with my kids this morning, get them dressed, sing 10 songs to keep them happy, make like lunch boxes, snack boxes and breakfast for the whole family, bring them to school things with my husband, and then here I am.” You know, we've done so many things and often like, squeezed in a load of laundry in between as well. It's like, we do a lot but because they are they seem like routine to us, we do them every single day and every morning because we just have to do them. We have no choice. We do not ourselves credit for it.



Iva: And also, to your point, hey, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic! These are unprecedented times. This hasn't happened before, there's no reference point to it, no other generation has gone through this. And, and therefore, you know, by the way parenting through a pandemic is not an Amazon. I know because I tried to get a copy for me and one for you, actually. Joking aside, these are very, very challenging times for everyone. And we need to give ourselves some credit, and cut ourselves some slack in that we are doing the best that we can, in a situation where there really is no reference point and where previous generations cannot guide us, either. And they cannot tell us, well, you know, back in my day when I went through my own global pandemic, this is what I did.


And nobody, nobody can help us in that sense and we are really figuring it out as we go. So, just the fact that we are raising our kids, keeping them alive, and making the most of the time with the resources that we have, in the circumstances that we're in, is enough to, to make us want to give ourselves a pat on the back and say like hey, well done. I mean good enough, is really good enough in these circumstances.



Desiree: That's right, it's so true what you said and again it's something we need to give ourselves credit for and cut ourselves some slack as well. So, we need to just let go of this feeling of guilt or try to at least overcome it with these strategies that we spoke about.

Number one being the mindset shifts_ we have to accept that motherhood comes with challenges. Then number two, we need to find that tribe and find ways that we can feel valued again, because feeling valued just gives us that confidence to make compromises in these kinds of situations. And the big number three, we have to forgive ourselves, don't be so hard on yourselves. You're an amazing mom, you're doing so much! Your children are happy, and that's all that matters. 


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Books Mentioned

Forget Having It All by Amy Westervelt




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