By Jennifer Chung
There are those moms who make everything look easy, like they have it all pulled together. And then there's us, or so we think. We run around frazzled feeling guilty because we didn't get everything done on our To-Do List today. Leaving dirty dishes in the sink after dinner somehow makes us feel less than perfect when it comes to parenting. We may even ask ourselves, "How does SHE do it?" Every woman has unique gifts and talents. The key is to recognize what you do well and not magnify what you perceive others do better than you. Today, I challenge you to celebrate all of the magnificent ways you keep all of the balls in the air that are uniquely you, and remember that we're all busy moms doing the best we can! Check out these tips to free walk away from burnout and guilt once and for all.
Be present in the moment - Moms want to do it all! It is impossible to wear multiple hats and not burn yourself out. Feeling guilty only adds to the pressure to be a perfect parent. Rid yourself of the guilt by being present in the moment. When you're working, give 100 percent so you can leave work worries at work and focus completely on your kids when you're at home. If you're a divorced parent who shares custody, make the most of the time you have together by focusing on the quality of the time you spend with your children rather than the quantity of time.
Find a mentor - Decision making can be tough when it comes to raising your family. Find a mentor, friends, family, a neighbor, other moms, to help guide you as you make tough parenting decisions. Raising kids takes a village and tapping into the wisdom of other women who have raised happy healthy kids can help ease the stresses of parenthood.
Empower yourself - Tap into the knowledge of parenting experts. Read at least one parenting book or article a month. Equip yourself with tools that can help you cope with your particular family dynamics whether you're considering having a second child and you want to prepare your toddler or you have a child who suffers from allergies. Take a parenting class and get involved with other parents who have kids that are your child's age. A circle of peers can support and encourage you on your parenting journey as well as help build confidence in your parenting skills.
Take parenting advice with a grain of salt - Everyone has an opinion about raising kids and many aren't shy about vocalizing their parenting methods. Keep in mind that each family is unique and you're focused on what is best for your kids. Don't allow other people's comments to add pressure. Take what they say with a grain of salt, apply anything that is useful and disregard the rest.
Don't carry other people's baggage - Life is too short to carry other people's baggage. Don't allow family and friends to heap guilt on you about working outside of the home, putting your child in pre-school or not breastfeeding. Stay true to your goals as a family and remind yourself you are doing what is best for your family in your current situation. The great thing about raising a family is you can make changes as your family dynamics evolve.
Find the silver lining - Guilt can be negative, drain you of energy and that doesn't serve anyone well. Find the positives in your situation and focus on the things you can control. For instance, if you have a job you hate that requires you to work long hours, be thankful you have a job and seek new employment that will allow you to spend more time with your kids. It may take some time to find the ideal job for your situation, but staying focused on the goal will help rid yourself of unnecessary guilt. Guilt is like worry. Getting caught up in negative emotions doesn't promote change. It can cause you to get trapped in an energy draining cycle that can prevent you from experiencing a happy fulfilled life.
Reprogram your brain - If you're feeling like guilt is consuming your life, it's time for a change. Fill your brain with positive messages. Rather than listening to music on your commute, listen to books on tape that can help reprogram your thinking. Read books that can help address issues you're coping with. Equip yourself with tools to face the challenges that lie ahead as your kids grow into new stages of life. Change your circle of friends, get involved in groups of likeminded moms and take time for yourself: workout on a regular basis, meditate or take a candlelit bubble bath. Find what works for you.
Focus on the future, leave the past behind - Rid yourself once and for all of feeling guilty. Make a list of the things you feel guilty about. Then make a column of pros and cons about the situation. Help find a way to bring perspective to those issues. Decide what things you can change and what things you just have to find a way to live with. Jot down ideas to formulate an action plan. Taking control over your life is refreshing and empowering. Focus on moving forward and not living in the past. We all have made mistakes or poor choices, but we can learn from those experiences to grow and be more successful moving forward.
It's easy to get caught up in feeling guilty when we have bad days. Keep in mind we all have a bad day every now and then, the key is to keep it all in perspective. Being a mom is one of the most wonderful experiences we can share as women. Be encouraged that we all share a common bond of wanting to do our very best, and yet some days we fall short. Continue to focus on the things you do well, and don't get caught up in comparing yourself to others.
ABOUT JENNIFER CHUNG
Jennifer Chung is a parenting expert and co-founder of Kinsights: part parenting community, part online health record. Kinsights provides parents with a safe place to seek answers to their questions while also helping them track their child's health information. Organize your child's growth and developmental milestones, immunizations, medications, allergies, and more. Connect with Kinsights at Kinsights.com to learn more and sign up. You also can follow them on Facebook/kinsights and Twitter (@kinsights).
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