A Real-Life Guide to Parenting with Less Guilt


As a mom of three and a fellow traveler on this journey of parenthood, I am well-acquainted with the extra pressures that mothers place on themselves. In a world where everyone’s brightest moments are loudly broadcasted on social media, it’s easy to feel like we are not doing enough. In hopes of encouraging other moms, I have compiled a real-life guide with three nuggets of wisdom I have received while raising tiny humans that help me in parenting with less guilt.

Look out for the word “should”

As moms, we spend a lot of energy thinking about things we should be doing for our kids. What they should be eating. How much time they should be spending outside. How much they should be able to do by a certain age. There is validity in this, but it can also cause us to feel huge guilt. Sometimes, though, when attempting to do right by our kids, we forget to prune the things that make us feel inadequate, insecure, or discontent.

Are you spending too much energy making magazine-worthy meals when you hate cooking? Maybe you are saying yes to lots of activities for your kids but they need more downtime. Whatever your “should” is, ask yourself whether it is a realistic expectation for you. No one knows how to make decisions for your family better than you do. So whether it’s schooling, sports, or what to put on the table for dinner, you know best. Advice from others can be helpful, but make sure it fits the rhythm of your family.

Ask for help

Our society perpetuates the need to look like we can do it all—by ourselves—at once. Does that sound like too much for anyone else? When I gave birth to my third baby girl and, for the first time, I asked for help. Why? Because I desperately needed it! And believe it or not, people said yes! They brought us meals for a month, watched my kids so I could nap, and hung out with me after bedtime when I needed to be around other adults. I can’t believe I didn’t reach out sooner!

Asking for help can come in many forms. Maybe you find it difficult to keep your home at an acceptable level of cleanliness and you want to hire a cleaner—but wonder if it’s necessary. Just like a babysitter or counselor, this service you pay for is intended to make your life easier. If you can afford it, go for it. Love yourself enough to ask others for help, and graciously extend that offer to others. 

Finally, find time for yourself each day, even if its small

For some, your me time might be taking a nice hot shower after your kids are in bed. For others, it might be exercise or reading a book. Personally, I’m not much of a beauty savant, but I find time every single week to paint my nails. My hair might look like a birds’ nest and I will probably have spit-up on my shirt, but my nails are something that makes me feel more put together and adds a little bit more confidence to my look.

You may not be getting away with your hubby to the Caribbean anytime soon, and sometimes even a date night seems like too much. Finding time for you every day matters, though, because when we are recharged, we are better for our families. Learning this has helped tremendously with parenting with less guilt.

This article was originally published on May 29, 2018.