Posted: Sep 11, 2014 8:00 AM
Because I've been home with my kids nearly their entire lives, I still feel guilty if I do something for me like get my nails done or have dinner with my girlfriends. Whether this is justifiable work-at-home mom guilt or I'm just crazy, I created a plan to rid myself of it once and for all.
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My situation

Perhaps it's because I never saw myself as a work-from-home or stay-a-home mom prior to actually becoming a mother that I've not allowed myself to recognize this role as one of just as much importance as being the major breadwinner (or at least a contender). But recently, I've have to change my mental attitude about that. My only other option was losing my sanity and I'd really like to hold on to what's left of it. So with some serious practice (and lots of deep breaths), I've finally wrangled in my WAHM guilt. And if I can do it, you can too.

The strategy

Talking things out with my hubs always helps me to figure out my path. He has been religiously supportive of my decision to leave my full-time career to become a part-time WAHM when my firstborn was just 6 months old. After several months in a serious slump of mom guilt, I finally admitted to him that it still tugs at me. He encouraged me to ask myself why I feel this way since it's not a feeling that's put upon me by outside forces. That's when I got to the meat — I'm still trying to obtain perfection in a role that is inherently riddled with imperfection. How can I ever feel like I'm doing enough for my kids?

I still have moments when I feel I've failed them but I think all moms put that pressure on themselves.

So I took a good look at my kids. Yes, I'm completely biased (who isn't about their own children?) but they are remarkable people. They are polite (usually), well behaved in public (99 percent of the time) and most importantly they are happy little people who know they are loved. And that's where I feel like a real winner. My kids ooze confidence in their own ways. My daughter is outwardly confident and my son glows from the inside out. But I know that is because of all the time I've spent with them building them up without creating an unrealistic scenario about the world outside our front door. I talk to my kids about real stuff. I treat them with respect and give them choices. In return, I expect excellent behavior. And for the most part, they reciprocate. Yes, I still have moments when I feel I've failed them but I think all moms put that pressure on themselves. I vote we all stop that now and accept that we are doing the best possible job day in and day out.

Putting it into practice

After recognizing the source, I decided to test drive my newfound freedom from mom guilt — so I requested a night on the town. My husband and I rarely get a sitter. Luckily, my parents are more than helpful and are excited to watch our kids anytime we need a date night.

Each time I break away, it gets a little easier for me and my kids.

However, we try not to abuse their complimentary babysitting services so we often stay home on the weekends. Recently, though, I decided to call a sitter and not worry about the expense. One thing that helps here is having access to a sitter that you totally trust. We used my best friend's niece. She has known my kids since my second born was just 2 months old. She had my kids enthralled in play before we even walked out the door so saying goodbye was easy peasy. Throughout the night I focused on giving my husband some well-deserved attention and we had a great night. Since then I've scheduled a few more outings for myself like a quick and inexpensive pedicure or a trip to Target for one, which, as all moms know, is a complete splurge. Each time I break away, it gets a little easier for me and my kids.

Be honest about your needs

I don't want my kids to get the idea that they wear me out enough to need a teensy break from them every now and then. But I do want them to understand that we all need our own personal time-outs (and not the kind that are a result of a bad decision). I let them know that it's important for Mommy to have some time to herself so I can be more present and refreshed when I am with them. I'm not sure if they completely grasp the concept at their ages, but they seem to be more accepting when I head out for a quick happy hour with my girlfriends. Simply not having them hanging on my legs as I try to get out the door makes it a whole lot easier for me to leave them behind for a few hours without guilt pulling at my heartstrings.

I won't say that I'm completely over mom guilt. However, purposefully working to eliminate it from my life has made a real difference. Instead of trying to be perfect, I now try to recognize my everyday accomplishments and realize that everyone (especially hardworking moms) deserves a break every now and then.

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