Parental Guilt Trips: 12 Tips to Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations

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Becoming a parent can lead to intense feelings of guilt. We all want to be perfect parents to our kids, but guess what? That’s impossible. You will make mistakes even if you try your best to avoid them. Learning to deal with guilt is fundamental for your mental health; that’s why we created this guide. Here are 12 tips to let go of unrealistic expectations.

You’re Not Perfect, and That’s Okay

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There is no way around it. Mistakes are unavoidable. Whenever you do one, try to remind yourself of it. You are human like everyone else, and making mistakes is part of your nature. Instead of beating yourself up, accept that they are an unavoidable part of existence.

Mistakes Help You Grow

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Rather than seeing mistakes as a sign of failure – they are inevitable, remember? – start to shift the narrative in your head. Mistakes are an opportunity for you to grow. Whenever you do one, instead of excessively blaming yourself for what happened, ask yourself: “What am I learning from this?” “What can I change so that this won’t happen again?”

Self-Compassion

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Practicing self-compassion can help you attenuate the guilt you’re feeling. You feel guilty because you care. Don’t be too harsh on yourself; instead, try to set new standards for yourself. You don’t have to cook the most nourishing food every single day. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. You don’t have to be a perfect mom, just a loving one.

Some Screen Time Is Okay

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Let’s admit it: screen time is not ideal for kids. However, as with every tool, it can be a good parent’s ally if used correctly. We all grew up with TVs in the end, right? Instead of avoiding screens, try to use them effectively without having your kids glued to them 24/7.

You Need Self-Care to Be a Good Mom

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New parents often feel guilty whenever taking time for themselves. Remember, you can be a good mother only if you properly take care of your mental health. Self-care is non-negotiable and should be an essential part of your daily life. Whether you need a warm bath or 30 minutes of reading, remember that taking care of yourself is not a luxury but a basic need we all share.

Journal

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Journaling is a powerful tool for managing stress, anxiety, and guilt. Putting your thoughts on paper brings clarity, helping you see what happened more objectively. If you’re dealing with guilt, try taking a few minutes daily to write down your thoughts and see whether you experience any improvement.

The Friend Strategy

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We are often incredibly harsh when judging ourselves. Use the ‘friend strategy’ whenever you make a mistake and feel guilty. Imagine a friend of yours made the same error and is now telling you how guilty she’s feeling about it. You probably would not judge her so harshly, right? So, why are you doing this to yourself?

What Would the 18-Year-Old-You Say?

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It’s easy to beat ourselves up when making mistakes, as our brains tend to catastrophize everything. When this happens, try to think of what the 18-year-old version of you would think if she met you now. Chances are she would be so proud of the wonderful mother you have become.

Working or Not Working?

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Society seems to imply that you must feel guilty whether you decide to work or be a stay-at-home mom. Are you staying at home? Then you are not a good feminist! Are you working? Why are you spending so little time with your kids? Whether you decide to work or not, be proud of yourself and stop listening to what people who don’t even know you have to say about your life.

Ask For Help

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We often feel guilty when asking for help, as if this was a sign that we failed as parents. However, experts believe that asking for help is not a sign of weakness but strength. Whether you feel the urge to start seeing a therapist or need someone to take care of your children for a night, remember that asking for help is always a victory.

Let Go of Opinions That Don’t Matter

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Who cares about what your neighbor said? People will always criticize your actions no matter what you do or do not do. If the critique comes from someone whose opinion you value, it is worth exploring it further. However, if your parenting technique is criticized by someone you don’t honestly care about, stop caring about their opinion, too!

Comparison

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Especially today, it’s so easy to compare our lives to others. Social media is a constant reminder that there are plenty of happy families out there having healthy and delicious breakfasts, finding time to bond every evening, and never having a single argument. Stop comparing your life to theirs! What you see online is not an accurate reflection of reality. How many people would post the mess left by their kids in their room? This doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

More for You

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Remember to sneak in those self-care days! You need to recharge if you want to be a good mother. Why not go to an exotic place like Cabo San Lucas for a few days to get some well-deserved rest?

This article was first published on the RB ITALIA Blog.

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