A Guest Post by Toni Hammer
Once your baby is out of your womb and in your arms, that gaping hole in one’s uterus is quickly filled with a new entity: mom guilt.
Mom guilt makes you feel awful for any and every decision you made that day.
I shouldn’t have raised my voice. I should have made her eat her green beans at dinner. I should have stopped what I was doing to play cars with him. Why didn’t I just let the kids play outside? I’m the worst mom ever.
I was born a worrier with both an overactive imagination and guilty conscience. I was always the good kid growing up because the fear of screwing up and disappointing my parents or teachers would make me dizzy with guilt. Motherhood has only made that worse.
Most nights I lie in bed itemizing all the things I did wrong that day. Every mistake is another nail in the proverbial coffin in which is buried the feeling that I’m actually a good mom. Mom guilt is a heavy burden I lug around on my tired shoulders. It’s a shadow in my subconscious. It’s always there.
I have discovered a fantastic way to ease my nightly mom guilt. I won’t say it’s gone forever–I’m human after all–but this little secret has been doing wonders for my self-esteem as a parent and I believe it’s making positive changes in my relationship with my children.
Lucky for you, I like you, and I want to share my secret with you.
Here it is. Ready?
Every night, about an hour before bed, all the screens in the house go off. No more TV. No more tablets or even YouTube videos for us to dance to. It goes radio silent in my apartment.
I’ve found that by doing this, it forces all of us to interact with one another. They may help me clean up the house before Dad gets home. They may ask me to play with them. They may even just chase each other around the house while I finish folding laundry. The point, though, is that there are no distractions, It’s just me and the kids.
During these 60 minutes, I’m able to connect with my kids. I watch them play. I chase them around. I read them books or we play Hide and Seek. It forces me to give them as much attention as they desire right before bed.
When bedtime finally comes, I tuck them in, close their door, and breathe a sigh of relief. More often than not, the evening has ended on a positive note. The kids go to bed happy because their mom was with them, smiling and laughing and cuddling, right before they go to sleep. I’m at peace because I know that if nothing else–if I was an utter failure all day long–those last few moments that my kids remember as they drift off to dreamland were very sweet moments.
Mom guilt can’t take that time away from me. Those joyous giggles as I tickled them. Those hugs and snuggles as I told them a story. Those good night kisses and whispers of “I love you, Mom’” are what I, and they, get to take with them to end their day.
It’s not a guarantee; nothing with toddlers ever is. But this secret has helped me relax and let go of any lingering guilt I may have been carrying around with me that day. It helps remind me that I am, in fact, a good mom.
Toni Hammer is a local stay-at-home mom and freelance writer whose first book will be out in early 2017. She blogs at Is It Bedtime Yet and drowns her mommy guilt in copious amounts of coffee and Diet Coke. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
This post originally appeared on Is It Bedtime Yet and is republished with permission.