The Reality of Mom Guilt: Ways to Overcome It


Being a mom, it is not uncommon to experience guilt when we try to balance the demands of work and family. In fact, “mom guilt” is a real phenomenon that affects a large number of women. Women face so much pressure to “do it all,” but often that’s just not possible.

After three kids, you’d think I’d have it all figured out, but I have to admit–it has not gotten any easier. My teen needs advice and a friend daily. Plus all the extracurriculars and driving around that comes with being the mom of a teen. My 12 year old has sports where I still drive him to practice many times a week and games that require my attendance. My four year old is even needier than the others. She needs someone to feed her, bathe her, play with her, teach her, etc.

The Reality of Mom Guilt: Ways to Overcome ItBeing a mom means someone always needs us, and we are always having to choose between our kids, our career, or ourselves. There are, however, things I’ve learned along the way that have allowed me to extend myself some grace and be kinder to myself when being placed in these situations.

The Pressure Is Real

The pressure to be a perfect mom and the fear of letting our children down is a significant factor contributing to mom guilt. And let’s be real, sites like Pinterest create an unattainable standard for mommy excellence. Pinterest perfect lunches, birthday parties, personalized items, and hairstyles make the ordinary look sub-par. I’m exhausted trying to keep up with what the new cute theme is.

Society also reinforces the idea that being a good mom means being constantly available and putting our children’s needs before our own. This can lead to feelings of guilt when we prioritize our own needs, such as pursuing a career, an education, a passion, or even simple routine of self-care.

It is also difficult for us to work and put ourselves first because we are the primary caregivers, the nurturers, and protectors of our children. Our children rely on us so heavily. According to a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, moms spend an average of 14.2 hours per week caring for their children (the number is even higher for stay at home moms or work from home moms) compared to 7.9 hours for fathers. This unequal distribution of childcare responsibilities can lead us to feel like we are the only ones who know how to provide for our kid’s needs, leading to increased guilt when we prioritize our own needs.

In this post on mom guilt, Kandy Scarpelli-Sandoval stated it perfectly. When we stay home, we feel guilty that we aren’t contributing enough or that our children may not be socializing enough. Yet, when we work we feel guilty regardless for not spending as much time as we should with our kids.

Overcoming Mom Guilt

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this mom guilt. First, it is important to recognize that guilt is a natural part of motherhood, and it is okay to prioritize ourselves sometimes–we deserve it! We must also reframe our thinking about what it means to be a good mom.

My kids do not need a perfect mom, they need a present one. So instead of focusing on being perfect, I choose to focus on being present and responsive to their needs when I am with them.

I try to make the most of the time in which we are together rather than trying to multitask or feel resentful and disassociate when I feel I have to be with them. Another thing that helps is making a conscience effort to engage in self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends, which can help us recharge and be better mothers in the long run. As soon as we recognize that we are deserving of having an identity other than a mom, we can begin to release some of that guilt.

» » » » » » »  RELATED READ: Let’s Be Honest About Motherhood: My Confessions  « « « « « « «

Finally, it is important to seek support from others, whether it be a partner or family member. We need to learn to trust others to love our kids the way we do and surrender the control. I had to learn that just because my husband does not read bedtime stories the way I do does not mean my daughter can’t enjoy a different way of hearing a story. And just because grandma has to pick up the kids from school every so often does not mean I have failed as a mom. It is okay to allow our kids to be loved and cared for by people other than us.

It’s helped me to see it as a privilege to have others love my kids the way I love them. Sharing the responsibilities of childcare and seeking help when needed can alleviate some of the pressure and guilt we may feel.

The way I see it, mom guilt is a real and common experience for many of us. However it is important to recognize the factors that contribute to guilt and to take steps to overcome it. It is important to reframe your thoughts and prioritize our own needs. We have worked hard to be where we are in our careers, our passions, and hobbies. By seeking support from others, we can alleviate some of the guilt and be better mothers in the long run.

We deserve the blessings bestowed upon us, and we deserve to be successful in all aspects of life, not just in motherhood.


  1. Journal of Marriage and Family, Volume 81, Issue 2, Pages 344-363, April 2019, titled “Parental Time Investments in Children: The Role of Gender and Child Age.”

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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Melissa Montalvo
Melissa is a loving mother of three who is married to a Marine turned educator. Her children range in all stages of life; a teenager, a pre-teen, and a preschooler. She also has 4 adult stepchildren, making them a family of 9! Prior to her career in real estate, Melissa worked in the healthcare industry for over 10 years. However, in 2019, she decided to prioritize her family and quit her job. In the midst of the pandemic, she began a new career in real estate, which has allowed her to be present with her family. Melissa is a woman of faith who is passionate about serving her community and empowering other women. She believes that every woman has the potential to achieve their goals and overcome the guilt that comes with being a mom. Melissa's ultimate goal is to become a life coach and serve as an inspiration to other moms who want to balance their careers and family while pursuing their passions and reaching their full potential.


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