How I kissed my mommy guilt goodbye

And focused on what REALLY matters.

How I kissed my mommy guilt goodbye

I was going to be the perfect mother.

Freshly positive pregnancy test in hand, I headed to the grocery store to buy all the organic food my blueberry-sized baby needed.

Into the cart: Pesticide-free kale, DHA-enhanced milk (for baby’s brain, of course), wild salmon (only in the ‘right’ amounts), sprouted tofu and free-range eggs. This was my first big chance to get motherhood right, and I was going to eat the best, most nutrient-rich foods our budget could handle. $250 worth of groceries later, I was ready to make my body a temple for my growing baby.

The next morning, morning sickness hit me in full force.

And I didn’t stop throwing up for 6 weeks, surviving only on fruit punch, Gatorade and Saltines. (And truth be told, Zofran. God bless Zofran.) All of that food—the hundreds of dollars of organic produce that I obsessed over? It rotted in the fridge while I spent the winter hugging the toilet, barely able to get out of bed.


Only a few weeks in, and motherhood was already teaching me to laugh at my perfect plans.

Since that first idealized day at the grocery store—the weekend I found out I was pregnant with my first—I’ve never really felt “in control” of this whole motherhood situation. And somewhere along the way, I learned that being a mom is a wave I just need to learn to ride.

But the perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, uninvited.

I’ve spend weeks trying to pick the perfect preschool. I’ve spent hours online, aiming to find the ideal activities to stimulate their social and intellectual development. I’ve obsessed over finding the “right” camp or the best whole wheat pasta. (SERIOUSLY.) I’ve guilt-tripped myself over screen time, going cold turkey, then over-indulging, and back again. I’ve planned their birthday gifts to perfection—only to have them tire of the presents a few weeks later.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, but that’s not the kind of mother I want my children to have.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, even though I know it’s an illusion and that nobody has it all together.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, but I don’t have time for it anymore.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, but I know it’s a liar trying to suck motherhood of its joy.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up telling me to do more, but I’ve learned to laugh back and tell it: NO. In fact, I’m going to do less.

I’m going to do less worrying. Less obsessing. Less planning for events that won’t wind up going my way. Less projecting onto how situations “should” be and more accepting them for how they are. I’m going to try and squeeze in fewer activities, and more carefree time together. I’m going to tell guilt to go away, that I’m too busy sitting down with my babies and hearing about their Lego-building plans.

Instead of all that guilt and planning for ‘perfect,’ I’m focusing on the few things I think actually matter for my family.

So instead, here are the 5 things I learned to focus on. This is what ‘perfection’ looks like to me—

You are safe

We have simple morning and bedtime routines. We constantly clear our house of clutter. We talk about the meaning of our marriage and the commitment we have to our family. We coach our kids through transitions and discuss any upcoming disruptions or changes so they won’t be too startled (at least when we can.)

I want our children to know they are in a safe place where they can share their fears and dreams. I want them to know they can fail—and that trying hard and learning and growing is what it takes to truly flourish.

You are loved

I want them to know that they are wholly loved. Just as you are. Even when I’m upset with you my child—you are loved. Even when you punch your brother (I wish you wouldn’t)—you are loved. When you wake up, when you sleep. When mom is at work, and when daddy is swimming with you in the pool: You are loved. In our words and our deeds. Our values and our priorities. You are loved. Always.

You have responsibilities

“But mom, I don’t want to go to camp today.” “But mom, I don’t want to put away my bowl.” “But mom, I didn’t make that mess—why should I clean it up?”

I want you to know that we are a family and we belong to one another. That means we pitch in to help the team. That also means we look to the world around us to see where we can be brave, to help those in need, or to do hard things that we don’t really want to do. We have responsibilities to one another. It’s part of life, and it’s where the authentic pride of hard work comes from. You have responsibilities. And that’s not a bad thing.

You are free to be you

My younger son’s favorite color is pink. My other son is obsessed with dinosaurs. One likes to wear his clothes backwards, and the other dreams of living at the library. They are free to be whoever they are. My child, we want you to thrive as the person you were created to be. We want to help you become the best version of you.

Well always be here for you—no matter what

No matter what happens, you can always come to us for help. We are home base. The soft place to land. The pat on the back. The shoulder to cry on. The fail-safe, get-me-out-of-jail card (I hope not literally, but even then.)

We might not have a perfect house. Their education might not live up to some ideal I imagined when I didn’t have real life budget and time constraints. Their dinners may consist of more macaroni and cheese than I hoped to deliver, but this is real life.

Goodbye guilt.

Goodbye perfection.

This is what really matters.

This is what really makes a family.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

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

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