Mom guilt – we all have it. From breastfeeding to babysitters, it never stops.
When I went back to work after my second baby, I thought I was prepared with my working Mom mantras (read them here) and my pump bag. It turns out I had extra baggage with me, Mom guilt . Was I going to miss out in the important times (again)? Am I screwing up this whole parenting thing?
And I don’t know about you, but my kids come home from daycare tired. And tired means cranky. And cranky means I am just racing to get them fed and to bed so I can pour a glass of wine. What is wrong with this picture? I am going to see my kids for 90 minutes a night and spend the whole time miserable – rushing through the motions – and still ending the night not feeling truly relaxed? Then feel guilty for not enjoying this process? The weight of this guilt can be crushing.
As I type this, I know I am not alone. I read other blogs, talk with friends and see a lot of popular culture around this idea that you will feel guilty NO MATTER WHAT. I had to find a way to stay sane and get my guilt in check. That’s when I came across an article published by the marriage gurus from The Gottman Institute. It was presenting a proven concept around positive vs negative interactions and how they can predict how your successful your relationship will be over time.
To summarize, they suggest there is a ‘Magic Relationship Ratio’ of positive interactions to negative. It’s okay if you aren’t spending your whole day in perfect harmony – there just needs to be a few moments each day that are positive (5 positives to 1 negative to be exact).
How can this apply to having a healthier outlook on your time with your kids?
To dial down your guilt, dial up your positive interactions
Try this tactic for two weeks: Aim for THREE positive interactions with each of your children (and bonus if you can apply this with your spouse) every morning and every night (especially during the work week or even when you are on the road). This could be a 5 minute snuggle fest, a sweet moment of storytelling, a nice long hug, or a simple “I love you and appreciate you” (given or received). A positive interaction can be simple like a good conversation over dinner, laughter during bath time or even sneaking in an extra minute of connection at bedtime.
Adding this daily reminder to your mental checklist might sound difficult, but it wont take long to form it into a habit. To start, make a sign on your fridge, whiteboard, chalkboard, mirror, etc. It can simply say “5 to 1”.
Over time, it becomes more natural and you don’t have to count. Consider the positive interactions your North Star during those hectic mornings and harrowing evenings.
Remember that you are doing a great job — simply by making space and prioritizing the positive moments, you can rest easy and have one less thing to feel guilty about.
The ultimate result will be not only a strong relationship with your loved ones, but a quieted voice of guilt and criticism in your mind and the ability to be more present for your children (while they still like you).
QC // Julie