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How to Banish Mom Guilt With Self-Compassion

It starts during pregnancy; the worry and self-recrimination gather steam.

  • Am I eating enough, or too much?
  • Am I prepared?
  • Am I reading the right things?
  • Am I knowledgeable about all the latest parenting news?
  • Did I gain too much, or not enough weight?

Taking on one of the most meaningful and challenging roles of all – becoming a mom – can provoke endless questioning and insecurity. No matter how prepared you think you are, pregnancy raises doubts and fears.

After the baby is born, the worries and guilt may skyrocket with endless opportunities to compare yourself, your marriage, your parenting acumen, and even your child to those around you.

  • Why am I so exhausted when my friends seem to have boundless energy?
  • When will my belly look flat again?
  • Will I ever stop resenting my husband, who sleeps through the night and never seems to hear the baby crying?
  • Why do I feel so unsure of myself? I had confidence at work, but don’t know what the heck to do with this tiny little person.
  • Why isn’t my baby crawling yet? My friend’s daughter crawled a month sooner. I wonder if there’s something wrong.

Despite parenting groups, online forums, supportive friends, and family advice, many young parents feel isolated and inept. They hide their fears and feel guilty when they struggle with insecurity or have negative feelings about being a parent. Many feel torn about their changing roles and resent having to let go of their former selves.

  • Can I care about my career without worrying that it will detract from being a mom?
  • Is it okay to want to stay home with my child and give up work altogether?
  • What if I ignore the parenting advice from my family and in-laws? Will it cause conflict? Worse yet, what if they’re right and I’m wrong?
  • Is a mom allowed to feel sexy?
  • I feel so guilty when I am bored sometimes, even though I love being with my child.

Even as children get older and moms become more confident, the worries and guilt don’t necessarily disappear, they just morph into another form. As these little people get bigger, their needs, personalities, and vocabularies increase too. The demands of parenting a toddler and preschool-aged child are no picnic.

  • How do I control my rage when she drives me over the edge? I am so ashamed that this tiny person can make me so mad.
  • Why isn’t he talking as fluently as my friends’ children?  Maybe there’s something wrong.
  • Sometimes I wish my child didn’t have my nose/hair/legs. I worry that she won’t be attractive as an adult.
  • I feel guilty when I sometimes wish he were more like my friend’s child, who is quiet and easy-going. I get so tired of his high energy and wish he were different.
  • I miss my old job and workplace status. I resent that others see me “just” as a mom and don’t take my opinions seriously.

The comparisons, worries and guilt don’t disappear once your child enters school. Grades, test scores, talent shows, auditions, and sports try-outs are just a few of the hurdles that loom, along with behavioral challenges such as temper outbursts at home, trouble at school, and difficulty with their friends. Moms also compare themselves to other parents.

  • Her kids never seem to talk back to her. How does she do it?
  • Where does she get the energy to juggle a full-time job and keep her house clean?
  • She seems so confident, always jumping in with great opinions at school meetings. Why can’t I have those creative ideas or confidence?

What can you do to tame the worry-monster? The key is self-compassion.

Recognize that worry is a sign of your love and caring. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t worry. That doesn’t mean constant worrying, self-blame, and guilt is a parenting requirement. It makes your life miserable and can affect your children. They may sense your anxiety and can become fearful and hold themselves back in deference to your worries.

Self-compassion encompasses the capacity to be kind and accepting toward yourself, and willing to forgive your fumbles and imperfections. Self-compassion can reduce anxiety, shame, and worry, and create a greater feeling of connection with others. It can foster increased compassion for others as well.

You can be a loving, empathetic, attentive, caring parent without the worry and guilt if you try the following:

1 | Practice self-compassion and mindfulness

Some tools are available online, including information from self-compassion and mindfulness experts Kristin Neff and Jon Kabat-Zinn. Many additional websites and phone apps also are available that provide mindfulness techniques.

2 | Recognize when worries, guilt, or self-blame are based in reality

Sometimes these beliefs are fueled by unrealistic assumptions. For example, how likely is it that other parents are always calm, have children who never argue, and rarely struggle with self-doubt? Ask yourself if you would be as harshly judgmental toward a friend or loved one. Challenge your assumptions that other parents have it all figured out, that you don’t get it, or that you must be perfect as a parent.

3 |  Trace unrealistic expectations back to their origin

Are they based on your own parents’ beliefs, books or online advice, fictional depictions of parenting, or expectations from friends, your partner, or your family? Have you always doubted yourself or is there something unique to your role as a mother that makes it more difficult? Once you understand what contributes to your worry or guilt, it may be easier to challenge and eliminate it.

4 | Appreciate that self-compassion benefits your child as well

If he sees that you are capable of accepting your imperfections, and can forgive yourself and move forward, he will learn these skills as well. It also provides an example for developing greater acceptance of others.

If the above tools and suggestions are not sufficient, working with a licensed mental health professional may be the next step on the road to banishing mom guilt and developing self-compassion. While it is important to learn from our mistakes and take stock in what needs to change, unrealistic expectations, harsh self-blame, and obsessive worry can rob us of much of the joy of parenting. Don’t let mom guilt get in the way of enjoying life as a parent and time with your child.

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna


2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna


3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95


4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna


5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna


With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.

Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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