by Dr. Rhonda Schafer-McLean

Mom guilt. If you have kids, you have  experienced it—the disappointment in yourself, the feeling of not measuring up, the implied failure. Yuck! Are we all really falling short daily? Or could it be that we are simply unable to meet arbitrarily set, unattainable goals? Whether you are a mom of one or seven, an overcommitted professional or a stay-at-home mom, the issues are the same: with great frequency, we find ourselves not measuring up to our own expectations. While the solution is not a simple one, implementing a few easy changes may minimize the pain and even lessen the mom guilt. Here are four ways to ease your mom guilt:  

  1. Be present. Stop multitasking. Work at work. Engage at home. Even if you work from home, or you’re a stay-at-home mom, set cosistent time and space boundaries that allow you to accomplish tasks. This may require arranging for child care or reconfiguring space. Be creative.
  2. Isolate prime kid time. Put down your phone. Turn off the TV. Close your laptop. Make these moments count! Honestly, kids go from toddlers to teenagers in the blink of an eye, and college dorm room shopping happens in another blink. Create family activities that have dual purpose.  Try a 30-minute walk that has a theme, for example. Depending on the age of your children, some possible themes could include questions such as, “Where do you see a rectangle?” to “Do you think you are a Democrat or a Republican?” You could also Google and explore facts about Italy together while preparing personal pizzas on wheat tortillas, or practice early math skills while playing a modified game of Yahtzee. The options are endless—just ask Pinterest!
  3. Give yourself a break. Literally. Schedule date night weekly and don’t default. This is an exceptional opportunity for you, your spouse, and your children to intrinsically apply appropriate value to the primary relationship in your home. If you are a single parent, consider regular meetings with a mentor or spiritual guide to check your path and refuel your soul. Plan a girls’ weekend once or twice annually. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, it just needs to allow for you to exhale and re-energize. Get on a plane or volunteer with a few friends to help out a great cause. Anything tempered with friendship and saturated with laughter is perfect!
  4. Establish rewarding routines. Stretch or read something inspirational for the first and last 10 minutes of your day. Troubles with bedtime or an early rising bed-headed toddler? Incorporate them into your routine with kid stretches alongside your own or carefully chosen, inspiring kid literature. (“Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls,” “I Love You More,” and so many more.) Encountering a few limitations? Purposeful breathing or an inspirational quote app may be just the fix. Remember, both physical activity and meditation are medically proven to enhance endorphin production. And who among us couldn’t use a little bit more of the “happy hormones?”

Remember, we are more likely to be measured by the composite of our efforts than any of our isolated mishaps. Setbacks will continue to occur, but can be overcome with thoughtful persistence. And don’t forget, dads can be frequent sufferers of mom guilt too.    

Dr. Rhonda Schafer-McLean is an OBGYN at the UND Center for Family Medicine. A Wilton native, Dr. Schafer-McLean completed her OB/GYN residency at the University of Colorado in Denver and has been practicing in Bismarck since 2009.