4 Ways To Overcome Single Mom Guilt
Mom guilt is bad enough. But that regular mom guilt turns into a whole other animal when you become a single mom.
I don’t mean to say that moms who are coupled don’t have stress and guilt they are dealing with. No matter what your relationship status is you have a challenging job as a mom. But I’ve realized my mom guilt is different now that I’m a single mom. Sometimes it can be downright debilitating.
In this article you will learn:
How single mom guilt differs from mom guilt
How to manage your single mom guilt on the spot
How to help lessen single mom guilt in the future
All moms have most likely experienced mom guilt at one point or another. Guilt about making the right decision; about not spending enough time with our kids; and guilt about taking time for ourselves are pretty common reasons we moms feel guilty.
Single mom guilt consists of more than just mom-related things. It includes guilt and regret associated with your divorce and how your divorce affects your children. It includes all the stereotypes and judgement about being a single mom. And because you are the only adult in the room, it also includes second- and triple-guessing yourself in all parenting matters.
For me, single mom guilt becomes debilitating when I get stuck in one of these vicious circles.
Vicious Circle #1
When I’m working, I feel guilty that I’m not spending time with my daughter. And when I need someone to help watch her, I feel guilty for imposing on them. Yet, when I’m spending time with my daughter, I feel guilty for not honoring my stress level or doing work that brings in an income. And around and around it goes.
Vicious Circle #2
Since I’m the only adult in the house, I have to figure everything out by myself. I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of or anyone to help me talk it out. So sometimes it’s hard to get the momentum going toward problem solving. Especially since I also have to do everyday things like make dinner and give baths even though I’m going through this mini nervous breakdown.
When things get this bad for me, I don’t know what to do or who to ask for help. And then I get frustrated with myself for not knowing the answer. And then I get worried about being able to pay the bills. And then sad because I can’t do all the things I want to do with my daughter. And then guilty because, while I’m almost in tears in the kitchen, my daughter is watching her third hour of TV in the living room. Bah!
Guilt is never far away when you are a single mom. And if you’ve found yourself in one of those vicious circles it can seem impossible to get out. To help ease some of the stress, here are 4 ways to manage single mom guilt.
Step 1: Make sure your stress level is under control
Keeping stress and overwhelm at bay is the first line of defense against single mom guilt. There are many ways to do this. You can anticipate stressful situations and figure out a plan of attack. You can also avoid the stressful situation all together. And I find that planning something enjoyable after the stressful situation helps keep me calm and gives me something to look forward to.
It might also help to not over-plan your days. And to make sure that you have enough time set aside to just be alone. And, as always, remember to get enough sleep.
Step 2: Use Connected Parenting Techniques
I discovered Connected Parenting when I was still pregnant, and I immediately connected (no pun intended) with its philosophy and techniques.
Basically, Connected Parenting means that you make sure you remain emotionally connected with your child as much as you can. Connected Parents believe that children deserve respect and help in managing their big emotions. It means that you create a positive environment for yourself and your child. And when you do lose your cool, it means that you apologize and reconnect as soon as possible.
Connected Parenting is not about being a perfect parent. It’s about using certain techniques and mindsets to help you parent in a stress-free and positive way. This philosophy has made it possible for me to keep a relatively low-stress household. And it’s helped to get through common stressful situations like potty training, tantrums, picky eating, and bedtime.
I cannot recommend Connected Parenting enough, especially for a single mom. If you want to learn more about Connected Parenting there are many Facebook groups and books on the subject. Here are two great books from Amazon.com.
Step 3: Practice Self-Soothing Techniques
When you feel stressed and full of guilt, bad thoughts tend to circle around in your head. I know I’ve often thought horrible things about myself during a bout of mom guilt. I’ve said hurtful things about myself and have even called myself names like “stupid” and “hopeless.” These hurtful words just prolong the guilty feelings and make things worse.
I’ve started getting into the habit of going through a list of nice things to say about myself as a way to stop the guilt cycle. It might help you too.
When you notice that you are not being very nice to yourself, you can say things like:
“I am hardworking.”
“I love my children.”
“I am doing the best I can.”
“I am beautiful.”
“I am a great mom.”
These simple, yet powerful, statements can help to snap you out of a guilty spell in minutes.
Step 4: Plan special, high-quality time with your kids
Reconnecting with your kids has so many benefits. It puts them in a good mood, it puts you in a good mood, and it helps prevent mom guilt.
Quality time is better than no quality time but try to aim for high-quality activities. What I mean by “high-quality activities” are activities like going for a walk and talking about your day or playing a fun, interactive game. High-quality activities are filled with laughter and action, and leave you feeling fulfilled.
Try working in some high-quality activities with your kids at least once a week to reconnect and help prevent single mom guilt.
Bonus Tip: Take a break from social media
Another way to prevent feeling single mom guilt is to take a break from social media. Most social media is filled with pictures and posts about how happy everyone’s lives are. I know I see about 10 “my husband is so great” posts each week. I’m happy that there are great husbands out there but seeing these posts just reminds me of the fact that I don’t have a husband. And when I did have one, it didn’t go very well.
Seeing so many happy, seemingly put-together people all the time can easily make you feel inadequate. So, just take a break for a bit. You probably won’t miss much anyway.
Being a single mom is tough enough without single mom guilt piled on top. But there are ways to prevent feeling guilty and to stop guilt in its tracks. Keep your stress level low, say nice things about yourself, stay connected with your kids, and take a break from social media.
What’s something that gives you the most single mom guilt? Do you have any tips to help other single moms overcome their single mom guilt?