As the mother of three teenagers, I am very familiar with the notion of trying to do it all. In almost two decades of being both a mom and a psychotherapist I have been exposed to a lot of women struggling with Mom Guilt. The perfection that many of us strive for is not only unrealistic, it’s unhealthy and something we need to talk more about.

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Guilt is a powerful emotion with detrimental effects on our overall mental health and wellbeing.

Women by nature are givers, conditioned for centuries to self-sacrifice and put ourselves last. This action is also too often equated with being a “good mom.”

Having unrealistic expectations of ourselves is the start of a dangerous cycle: try to do it all; hit a wall of reality; feel inadequate, self-judgement and even self-loathing. This cycle can lead to depression and anxiety which can severely affect our quality of life.

Today, let’s commit to stopping the cycle, abandoning Mom Guilt, and practicing self-compassion.

Let’s admit that it is unrealistic to be everything to everyone.

Let’s get comfortable with the fact that there is no such thing as perfection and when we strive for this status, we set ourselves up to fail.

Let’s start accepting our limitations and vulnerabilities and letting go of the unrealistic notion of being perfect.

Finally, let’s consider that motherhood is only one piece of who we are.

Now, imagine how much more we would have to give to those around us if we were the healthiest version of ourselves? Feelings of energy, patience, motivation and happiness become the benefits of feeling grounded, purposeful and mentally healthy.

Being the best and healthiest version of ourselves allows us to be our best version for others as well.

Here if some homework, let me know how it goes:

  1. Understand where your guilt comes from.
  2. Own that you’re not perfect. Stop striving for perfection.
  3. Make yourself a priority, finding actions that will fuel the energy you will need to support those around you.
  4. Learn to love yourself more. Start practicing self-compassion by speaking to yourself like you do to others you love.
  5. Create a support system. Talk about how you’re feeling with people who are realistic and optimistic. Seek those who “get” you.
  6. Lead by example, your kids are watching. Model behaviour that shows what it means to be healthy and balanced.

If guilt is still standing in your way, or you’re experiencing any signs or symptoms of depression or anxiety, reach out to a therapist for support.

Lisa Brookman is Co-Director and Psychotherapist at the West Island Therapy and Wellness Centre. She can be reached at lbrookman@westislandtherapycentre.com