Getting over mom guilt—How to say goodbye to feeling bad

We are all just winging this whole motherhood thing. And that’s okay, mamas.

Getting over mom guilt—How to say goodbye to feeling bad

In writing this article, I have hit delete and started from scratch three times now. (Third time's the charm!) Truth be told, I feel conflicted about this story. The struggle has probably been around since the cavemen and even more prevalent in today's age of “Pinterest parenting."

Mommy guilt.There, I said it.

We have all felt it. From the moment baby is conceived (or maybe even before), our entire being is flooded with this feeling. It may ebb and flow, like the tides, but it is always there.

During pregnancy alone, I could have filled a diaper pail with all of the guilt I placed on myself. In those 40 weeks, I ate too much chocolate, not enough leafy greens, and I even drank a Diet Coke or two (or six). It only got worse when my son was born.


Mommy guilt consumed me on a daily basis.

Why lie? It still does.

When I walked in on my son playing with the cords on my husband's laptop, I felt guilty for yelling…and a little worried that my neighbor heard.

I then proceeded to feel guilty about passing by the park to run errands instead.

After a re-route to the park (in lieu of grocery shopping),I felt guilty for pressuring my son to take one bite of fish at dinner.

After dinner, I felt guilty for letting him watch 15 minutes of a movie. What can I say, I was too wiped to do anything else with him.

After he goes to sleep, I will feel guilty for taking 45minutes to watch House of Cards instead of catching up on work.

My whole day is filled with guilt. From sunrise to sunset (and it's spring in Sweden, so we are talking about loooong days). With the constant struggle to face this guilt, isit any wonder I am so exhausted at the end of the day?

I have a feeling this nagging sense of culpability consumes many of us mamas. We almost feel like there is some mystical presence peeking through the window, keeping an eye onus and judging when we fall short.

We have all had our fair share of fails as parents. Whether we are running on 3 hours of sleep and literally can't stop the “Just go to sleep!" rant before it pops out, or we accidentally bonk little one on the head while lifting him from the car seat, I know we feel those moments even more than our precious babes.

So, what's the solution?

After much consideration, I have decided that it is unrealistic to simply “stop feeling guilty."

Guilt is what makes us better parents, after all.

The fact that we feel guilty simply means we haven't completely given up on caring. It may be a pain, but I think guilt is an adaptive trait, promoting better parenting (and happier kiddos) with every generation.

Instead of trying to ditch it completely, there are a few things us mamas can do to harness and channel our inner guilt.

Embrace it. Just a little bit.

If there is something in your daily routine that regularly makes you feel uncomfortable, think of ways you might change it.

Of course, we can't change everything that makes us feel guilty. We must choose our battles.

I will probably ignore my guilt and concede a few minutes of screen time for my tot after dinner tomorrow (and forgive myself later). But, I will also embrace my guilt and try to cut down on yelling at my little one for making mischief. He is a child, after all!

Stop comparing your apples to another mama's oranges.

Even as a child “expert," I still feel like I am winging it most of the time.

I dare you to find one mother out there who really has it all figured out. I don't care how many picture-perfect family photos we are bombarded with on social media. It simply isn't a representative picture of reality.

This is why it is crucial that we stop trying to compare our parenting realities to other parents' showpiece moments.

The time spent comparing ourselves to other mamas could be better spent enjoying time with our children…or at least folding the laundry.

As long as our children's needs for safety and security are being met, everything else will get done in your own uniquely effective way, mama!

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Focus on your accomplishments.

Some of my best friends are the most inspiring (and intimidating) mothers I have ever met.

One entrusted her one-year-old son with a Montessori bed, another gives her daughter daily outdoor time to “become one with nature," and one actually added a custom-made backsplash to her daughter's play kitchen.

These women inspire me to be a better mother...when they aren't making me question my competency as a parent (and human being). I simply must remember to think of my own accomplishments as a mother when thoughts of inferiority start creeping up.

It's true. We could all benefit from a little self-praise each day.

Before you go to sleep tonight, ponder 2 or 3 things that went well with your little one during the day.

Even if it's just that you spent 15minutes playing with your babe without checking your phone, or you didn't burn dinner during the witching hour.

Being a mother is hard. Without a pat on the back once in a while, burn out is imminent.

Take criticism out of the equation.

Sure, we know that every child is unique. Every family has different needs. Every mother has different philosophies and principles. Yet, it is almost second-nature to judge a mother for making different decisions from our own.

As mamas, we know firsthand how challenging motherhood is.

The next time you feel yourself judging another mama, try to remember how hard parenthood really is. Whether a mother chooses to introduce a pacifier at one week or uses a front-facing car seat before four years (gasp), she probably has a good reason for her decision—and has likely already faced her inner guilt trip.

If it helps, try to think of one specific reason that mother might be doing what she is doing.

Today I did a mini-eye-roll at a mother for jaywalking with her impressionable daughter on a busy street. But, I stopped myself and tried to think of why she might be in such a rush. Maybe she was hurrying to pick up a second child from preschool. Et voila. Judgment replaced with compassion and empathy.

Sometimes I notice myself worrying about what other mothers will think of my actions as a parent. I even find myself justifying and prefacing every questionable decision I make as a mother for fear of being judged.

Yes, yes, my son is having a piece of blueberry pie for lunch today. But, I promise, he has eaten vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy nuts for every other meal this week…

Why do we feel the need to explain ourselves? We need to own our parenting choices. Scratch that. We need to rock them. #babyfoodie#enjoylife #onfridayswehavepie

We are our own harshest critics. What we all need from each other is support, reassurance, friendship, and inspiration.

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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