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By Jae Curtis
Let's face it: Mom guilt probably trumps every other type of guilt in the world. It's severe, constant and unyielding, and can make you feel like a total failure even when you're doing your best. But cheer up; there are things you're probably stressing over that you should never feel guilty about. Cross these items off of your guilt list to cut yourself a little slack.
Disciplining Your Kid
Disciplining your child can make you feel like the worst mom ever. Marriage and family therapist Lori Freson gives us the rundown on disciplinary guilt. "We want our kids to be polite and caring, and to know right from wrong. So why is it so hard to follow through? One word … guilt," she says. "Children need rules and limits in order to feel secure. It's your job to enforce them, even it means your child might be upset with you."
Keeping Up With the Mama Mafia
When you see your park playmates flashing the latest in stroller couture or you notice that your friend's kids are way better behaved than yours, guilt makes social hour pretty unbearable. Hanging out with other moms can be hard enough, but once you start playing the comparison game, you can go from the top of the world to hiding your head in the sand. If you find yourself feeling awful after yet another playgroup, it might be time to reevaluate your social circle. Hanging out with other moms should give you an outlet, not a new method to beat yourself over the head.
Um, is that granola bar even organic? Feeding your child anything less than a paleo-whole food diet sans dairy, sugar, wheat and gluten might garner a negative reaction from your food snob friend, but it shouldn't make you pack your bags for a major guilt trip. While feeding your child healthy foods and well-rounded nutrition is important, so is your basic sanity. So if you cop out one night and fall back into the comforting and convenient arms of a Happy Meal, we won't judge. No child ever died from the occasional McNugget.
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Working moms have a tough battle to fight each and every day. Forget the fact that you have to leave your child with someone else; you also get hit with a barrage of super-insensitive comments at work, from other moms and just about anyone else who wants to give their opinion. But guess what? Only you and your partner know what's best for your family. It's best to plug your fingers in your ears and ignore what everyone else says, because you know that you're still parenting from your cluttered desk and when it's 5 p.m., you're back to pro-mom mode.
Sometimes it can seem like you just can't win. You feel guilty if you work, and guilty if you don't. Whether it's a tight budget or that degree you never really got to use, not working can make you feel like a second-class citizen. But we all know that stay-at-home moms are some of the hardest working people on the planet. Who cares if the only thing that ever reaches your email inbox are coupons and notes from your child's teacher? You rock those replies and then go back to multitasking the rest of the day away.
Taking Time for Yourself
"Most of us are so caught up in tending to everyone else's needs that we often forget that we matter too," Freson says. "But when we take that rare time for ourselves, the guilt sets in." She blames the phenomenon on mom's lives being too kid-centric—and cautions that not taking "me" time can be really unhealthy. "You really can't take care of others if you are not okay," she says. "If you keep going like a robot, without ever doing something for yourself, I can pretty much guarantee you will snap."
Mommy guilt is something that everyone with kids deals with—it comes with the territory. And while feeling guilty about, say, letting SpongeBob parent your child, there are some things that you need to let go. "Push yourself to do these things, even when you feel guilty about it," Freson says, "and you will see that the guilt lessens over time." Skip the guilt and you'll have more time to actually enjoy your child. Nice going, Supermom!