Getting Over "Mom Guilt"
Dear fierce ones,
Life is an ongoing process of growth and change and I am still “growing-up”.
Several years ago I felt trapped in a cycle that I had no more energy for.
I call it “The Hamster Wheel” and I reached a point where I had ENOUGH of running on “The Hamster Wheel”. It was exhausting.
Before I reached my turning point several years ago, I was running endless circles aspiring to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, and have the perfect home. I took the responsibility of being a mom very seriously, I wore myself out with anxiety and stress over every little thing. I was fiercely protective and I was 100% committed to healthy meals…no packaged foods for my kids, no sugar cereal, no candy (apparently I was quite extreme) but I thought I was AWESOME for making sure my kids were not poisoned. I was working at the hospital and working at home…cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids and doing home improvement projects.
As with most things, it wasn’t just one thing…it was EVERYTHING.
Over time I became completely overwhelmed, exhausted and resentful.
There is so much to talk about…so many facets that steered my course.
My nature. My judgments. My upbringing. My beliefs. My lack of knowledge.
In one of my favorite movies “Coal Miner’s Daughter” there is a scene where Loretta Lynn (brilliantly played by Sissy Spacek) reaches her limits. She is suffering from complete exhaustion. She admits to her fans that she is no longer running her own life. Instead, her life is running her. She cancels her concert, apologizes to her fans and then collapses and is carried off stage. She desperately needed to RESET.
I needed to reset too!
Many times I would think …“I want off The Hamster Wheel”!
I thought about it so much that I started a purposeful journey towards my authentic self, my dreams, my passions, and talents.
I know that I am not alone. Many of us Mom’s have lost our way…we have been sucked into The Hamster Wheel. The energy it takes to work full-time and manage a household is INSANE. Shared workload amongst family members is often a BIG FIGHT leaving us Mom’s disheartened, overwhelmed, exhausted and resentful. Many Mom’s give up and do everything themselves (that was me) and end up wearing themselves out.
Being a Mom is very hard and after 25 years of being a Mom…I have come up with some pretty creative parenting ideas and made some very important realizations.
Kids are NOT the boss of the house. It is a tremendous help when you remember that!
Kids are capable. Please don’t buy into the bullshit that kids shouldn’t have to do anything, or that they can’t do a great job!
"MOM GUILT" is a thing you need to let go of.
Kids NEED to learn how to take care of themselves! I was utterly horrified last year when my daughter's friend took his dirty laundry home from college to his MOM, and she did it for him!
In establishing our blended family home, I was adamant about sharing the load. This was one of the first conversations I had with Avery. (Experience makes one wise). There was no negotiating these terms.
Kids WILL help out at home.
Helping out at home includes vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, feeding the chickens, garbage, and recycling, food preparation and cooking. Washing the dishes. Painting. Weed pulling. Grass mowing. Laundry. Etc. WHATEVER WE NEED HELP WITH!
It is crazy to believe in this notion that kids should be allowed to “be kids” (what does that even mean?) It SEEMS to mean that they lay around playing on screens while moms and dads furiously run on "The Hamster Wheel" of endless duties and responsibilities completely exhausting themselves and getting nowhere. It is ridiculous. It is completely unnecessary. And yet… at the same time…it FEELS necessary because of MOM GUILT. I don’t know for a fact, but I reckon that most mom’s out there suffer from MOM GUILT.
Let go of MOM GUILT. If you are a MOM…you are guilty. You are guilty of second-guessing yourself, making mistakes, losing your shit and feeling like a complete failure. It’s ok. STOP DOING EVERYTHING…that is not the goal. The goal or task of childhood is to grow-up and become someone that others can depend upon.
All you moms out there, I salute you! Parenting is NO JOKE. It gets pretty intense at times, I won’t lie.
The growing-up is happening right before your eyes and so is the family drama. In our home, there have been many family discussions, some serious and some not so serious. The work of establishing our home together has begun. Blending families together is very challenging.
It was chaos at first. However, I am adamant about kids cleaning up after themselves, as I am NOT the maid. Everyone has understood that these are the rules and yet, EVERY SINGLE DAY there were mysterious dirty dishes that appeared on the counters and in the sink, on coffee tables and bedside tables and yet those dishes never belonged to anyone! I was growing both weary and frustrated.
Due in part to my wild imagination, I have always been an “idea girl”. I come up with “crazy” ideas all the time. To me they are not crazy at all but rather a necessary tool to navigate the constant challenges of life. I grew up in a home with parents who never did things the “normal” way. I am ever so grateful that I was always encouraged to think for myself and “figure it out”. As a child, I used to get annoyed with my parents because I thought they weren’t very helpful! Now I know that they knew I was perfectly capable and of course, I was. As a result, I am an independent thinker, I have a DIY mindset and I can come up with very creative solutions.
My constant frustration of hearing “that’s not MY dish” led to a GENIUS solution (I think so anyway) that I would like to share with you.
I THREW AWAY ALL THE DISHES. (I am not kidding!)
IT FELT AWESOME.
For a few days, we ate out of Mason jars. (By the way, mason jars are one of my favorite things! They are so multi-functional. A glass, a measuring cup, food storage, a vase, a candle holder etc…they are simply AWESOME)
As a short-term solution, this DRASTIC measure accomplished something VERY important.
1. The kids realized that we were serious.
2. The kids suddenly acquired an amazing appreciation for dishes.
We took ourselves to the thrift store and everyone picked out his or her own dishes.
Dishes that they liked and wanted.
The rules around the dishes are very simple and easy to understand and follow. Even a 3-year-old can do this! GASP! (I can almost hear the incredulous whispers of disbelief) But I am deadly serious. Even a 3-year-old is capable of cleaning up after themselves. (to some extent at least) My nieces are living proof.
Use your dishes and only your dishes.
Clean up after yourself.
The beauty of this plan is multi-faceted.
1. It creates a sense of ownership. Each person is able to pick the table setting that they like and want. It belongs to them and they are responsible for taking care of it.
2. There is no escaping the evidence. “That’s not MY dish” doesn’t work anymore. I burst out laughing the other day when Joaquin admitted he almost left his dirty dish out but realized that everyone would know it was his and so he took care of it before he was “caught”!
3. Everyone benefits!
I LOVE the results.
It doesn’t stop with the dishes…
I also hear “that’s not MY towel” (the one crumpled in a heap on the floor)
Again…I have had ENOUGH. There is a similar plan in the works to address the “towel situation” too.
Our best family times are in the kitchen making meals together. Involving EVERYONE. I have noticed an incredible family bonding that has taken place by involving our kids this way. We chop vegetables and talk about life. In the process, the kids learn how to use a knife safely. They learn to chop, peel and dice. They learn how to prepare food. They learn to cook, sauté, and bake. They are learning important life skills to prepare them for college. They are growing up!
I am too. I laugh at myself when I realize how much I have “grown-up”!
How my priorities have shifted.
In the past, I would have shuddered at the idea of a bunch of mismatched table-settings. (I like everything to look pretty) But today, I am far more interested in teaching responsibility and fostering independence.
I do not want to spend my time cleaning up after others, chasing down the culprit of the daily “that’s not MY dish!” scenario, and running myself ragged on The Hamster Wheel.
It took a lot of soul-searching for me to come back to myself and to be ME, and to love myself.
I now realize that less is more, what REALLY matters, and how to embrace the beauty of imperfection. It has taken time to figure out who I am, what I like, what I am passionate about and what makes me happy.
If you are a mom suffering from MOM GUILT and running on The Hamster Wheel…It is time to RESET.
Find a creative solution that works for you!
Find your fierce
Take the journey