How to Reduce Your Mom Guilt and Still Love Your Kids

Do you suffer from mom guilt, even when you spend as much time as possible with your kids? Try out these three tactics so you can be a less stressed, more content mom. 

How to Reduce Your Mom Guilt and Still Love Your Kids. (Photo: White woman and baby sitting on a furry beanbag.)

The last time my husband and I had a date night, my eighteen-month-old (nicknamed Little Bird) roamed his grandparents’ house, looking for us in every room. He called out “Mama. Mama” in this tiny little voice.

Thanks for the stab through the heart, kid.

Mom guilt is so real. Sometimes it’s deserved, sometimes it isn’t, and sometimes it doesn’t matter because your kids love you so much that they’re distraught if you leave for a split second, much less the entire evening. Yet we’re told to “take time for ourselves” and make sure you have “me time.” Good luck being able to minimize the mom guilt and still carry out self-care.

On top of the self-care piece, mom guilt actually hurts rather than helps our parenting. If we’re constantly paralyzed by feeling inadequate, then we can’t fully appreciate the times we are present.

As the Queen of Guilt – mom and all other types – perhaps it’s ridiculous of me to write this article. But because of my tendency to run right into Guilt City, no stops ahead, I’ve had to deal with it straight-on for the sake of my mental and emotional health. Taking these steps has helped me reduce my anxiety significantly. Hopefully, they’ll help you too.

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Love, Lullabies, and Watching Your Baby Grow Up

Love, Lullabies, and Watching Your Baby Grow Up (Photo: Small child in a thick jacket and hat walking on a sidewalk next to snow)

Opening my mouth, I started to sing the lullaby I had sung to my two-year-old every night for the past year. “Christopher Robin and I walked along, through branches lit up by the moon,” I warbled off-key. Locking eyes with his big blue ones, I saw him shake his head.

I stopped singing.

“You don’t want me to sing?” My voice went up a half-octave. Another head shake and a finger pointing to his crib.

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Finding Space for Beauty Over and Over Again

Photo of a sunrise with silhouetted trees. On top of it, a screenshotted message from a cell phone saying "Storage Almost Full"

Finding space for beautiful things in our lives can feel impossible. After all, they’re so full. How can we fit in any more?

My phone has persistently reminded me of this fact over the last few months. It’s given me the “almost out of space warning” at least 30 times. I’ve deleted old videos, apps I’ve used twice, and music I haven’t listened to in years.

When a radiant sunrise caught my attention the other day, I picked up my phone to take a photo. Of course, I got that “out of space” warning. In response, I cleared out even more “stuff” so I could capture that moment. That shining, beautiful moment.

Because that’s what we do as moms – we find space, however we can.

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My 2018 Wish for You

Goodbye 2017; hello, 2018!

The world felt like it went to hell in 2017, but you know what? It was an opportunity for us to fight for what we believe in harder than ever before. Even – and especially – when it felt like we may lose. As my morbid but truthful friend says about our bodies’ continual wars against death: “And even if it looks like defeat is assured, like there is no hope, like we absolutely cannot win… well, we can handle an unwinnable war on ten million fronts, what’s one more?”

In 2018, we’ll continue to fight that good fight for us and our kids.

But I hope within all of that difficulty and challenge that you take time and space to have fun.

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2017’s Best of We’ll Eat You Up, We Love You So

2017's Best of We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So (Photo: Cartoon of a party hat)

2018 is approaching at astonishing speed! 2017 was a hell of a year in so many ways.

Politically, it was….well, it was bad. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it could be, mainly because I have a dark imagination and have read a lot of dystopic fiction. I’m actually surprised at how non-despairing I am coming to the end of the year!

My attitude is decent in part because of the good things in my personal life. Those have made up for a lot of the big picture shit. Sure, life with a preschooler and toddler is far from easy. But the worst of the one to two kid transition is over. We had some great family trips. Most importantly, I felt like I could finally breathe again. Even if I haven’t managed to get any more sleep than I had been.

Throughout the year, my posts have chronicled the ups and downs, as well as offered some hard-learned advice.

Here were my top five most popular posts original to 2017 (leaving out the gift guides). Fortunately, they’re also some of my favorite!

Here are a few more that weren’t quite as popular, but either people said meant a lot to them or I just personally liked:

If you missed them at the time, I also published articles in the Washington Post, Mamalode, Her View from Home, and Perfection Pending.

I hope everyone has a great New Years and is ready for 2018!

Six Easy Ways You Can Slow Down Life as a Parent

Ever wish you could slow down life a little bit? Here are five ways my family has been able to! 

Six Easy Ways that You Can Slow Down Life as a Parent (Photo: Kid with a hat and green jacket sitting in leaves)

With only a half-hour left of our three-hour car ride, my almost two-year-old’s eyes flutter open. “Uh, oh,” I think. Then the screaming starts. (Him, not me.) All he wants is to be home right this second! Why can’t we grant him that simple request?

While his crying grates on our ears, are we adults all that different? After all, most of us want things immediately, whether that’s our coffee at Starbucks, our computer to boot up, or our husband to stop playing video games. I’m a can-do, let’s get going, do this thing kind of gal. I want to do All the Things Right This Second.

Yet, much like our never-ending car ride, life never quite cooperates. As my pastor pointed out recently, even light, the fastest thing in the universe, isn’t instantaneous. There are stars born millions of years ago whose light hasn’t reached us here on Earth.

Very few of us actually want to rush around. We’d rather slow down life, luxuriate in simple tasks well done, and appreciate being in the moment (as long as the moment doesn’t involve whining). I know I enjoy moments with my kids and husband a hell of a lot more when I’m not impatiently thinking about the future.

On top of that, we want to teach our children patience and gratitude. No one wants to raise entitled brats who are never satisfied with what they have.

But giving up that need for instant gratification is a lot easier said than done. While I’m a work in progress, here are some ways I’ve found that I and my family can deliberately slow down life together.

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Guest Post: Why We Need to Take the Word Should Out of Our Parenting

“You need to stop using that word,” my husband says whenever I start a sentence with “I should really….” It turns out, he’s right. All of that focus on “should” spikes my anxiety and makes me feel like I’m not enough.

From not worrying so much about my kids’ birthday parties to forgoing a first-day-of-school sign, I’ve been learning to care less and less about what I “should” be doing as a parent. So I wrote about my journey and what’s helped me over at Perfection Pending: Why We Need to Take the Word Should Out of Our Parenting.

Here’s the introduction:

At midnight, the day before my son’s very first day of preschool, I committed a mortal parenting sin. I chose not to make a sign for his first-day-of-school photos. Now, this may seem like a minor offense – at best. After all, I wasn’t sending him to bed without his dinner.

But if you underestimate how momentous this decision was, you clearly missed the barrage of back-to-school Facebook posts by parents of small children. Even among my fairly low-key friends, there was a parade of increasingly elaborate signs, ranging from cute printouts all the way up to actual chalkboards.

But me? I bowed out of all of it.

Read more over at Perfection Pending!

How to Stop Making Parenting Decisions Based on What You Think You "Should" Do (Photo: White mom with a white young boy on her lap and a cat sitting between them)

Finding Home at Our House for the Holidays

Christmas tree with colored lights shining on wall.When I close my eyes during Christmastime, I see my parents’ house, with its fresh tree with white twinkling lights, ornaments from my childhood dangling off it. My dad has classic rock on in the background, either from an ancient speaker system or the TV, depending on what memory I’m drawing from. In the kitchen, my mom is making a gingerbread house with my older son, placing marshmallows just-so.

Closing them again, I see my in-laws’ house, all singing animatronics, baskets of candy, and holiday music. I’m lounging with my husband’s family on their brown plaid couch, gazing at the multi-colored lights. It’s not quite as familiar as my own parents’ house, but is still embedded in my heart and mind.

But when I open my eyes, none of that is present. It’s not even accessible – neither my parents or my in-laws live in those houses anymore.

Yet, despite that loss, it feels like we’re finally home for Christmas. That’s because this is the first year my husband and I have celebrated Christmas with our kids in our own house.

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Why Santa Will Never Lose His Magic in Our Household

Why Santa Will Never Lose His Magic in Our Household (Photo: Photo of a traditional-looking Santa Claus, tipping his hood)

“Do you want to go see Santa?” I asked my kids, standing outside the mall Christmas display. My one-and-a-half year old shook his head vigorously, while my four-year-old (nicknamed Sprout) just said, “No” in the same tone he gives me at bedtime. But that doesn’t mean they dislike Santa – just the mall version. And that’s just fine with me. Instead of forcing my kids to sit on some dude’s lap, we’re finding deeper ways to maintain Santa’s beauty and magic.

In our household, Santa is a complicated person.

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