Ep 2. The Secret to Navigating Mom Guilt

I'm Ashley!

My mission at The Purpose Gathering is to help driven momtogs like you level up, so you can build a sustainable business AND a fulfilling family life. I do that through authentic brand photography for mompreneurs and my signature program for mom photographers: Side Hustler to CEO.

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I really want to get deep and authentic. I know it’s the first real meaty episode, but I feel like if we don’t get down to the heart of what’s really going on, it’s going to be really hard for you to move forward and thrive with purpose.

Step One: Mom Guilt- What is it?

Okay, so we all know that mom guilt is real, it’s not going away ever. It’s important for us to learn how to navigate this, when these feelings come up and how to actually deal with them. I feel like so often we’re just encouraged to stop feeling a certain way and just start feeling a new way. And I feel like there’s a huge important link that’s missing and that’s the way behind our feelings.

I feel like before we can actually move forward with navigating guilt, we have to actually know why it’s happening. So, I wanted to share with you guys just a few ways I think, that are kind of what we all go through at one time or another. It doesn’t matter what season of life that we are in, but I think that we can all relate to these. So, I’m just going to share a few of them and then you guys can let me know if you can relate.

I feel guilty for not spending time with my kids.
Missing school activities.
That my house looks like a bomb went off.
I feed my kids processed foods.
I want to go hang out with my friends.
I just lost my temper again and yelled for the tenth time today.
I want to enjoy work.
I do enjoy work more than being a mom.
I feel guilty for taking time for myself
or leaving my kids at daycare.
Or going on a date night.
I don’t bake with my kids or do all the fun Pinterest mom crafts.
I don’t engage with my kids.
I don’t know how to talk to my kids.
I just don’t feel like I’m giving my best to everyone.
I always feel like I’m dropping the ball somewhere.

Does one of those stick out to you more than the others? I know for me, depending on what season of life that I’m in at the time. There are so many of us stick out so prominently. So, what I want you to do today, I want you to reflect on the season you’re in. Take some time to really think about what is causing you the most guilt. So, think about this, are you raising littles? Are some of your kids in school or are you like me and both of your kids are in school? Which by the way, that is a whole other sense of guilt and a whole other, it’s just a whole other beast to navigate.

I feel like I was always looking ahead and looking forward to liking, oh my gosh, when my kids go, are both in school, like everything will be so much better. I’ll have all this time to work and it will just be so great. But I’m here to tell you if that is you and you’re looking ahead. For someone who is living that right now, entrepreneurship gets a lot lonelier when your kids are at school. Because at least when they’re home, you’re kind of pushed to actually go interact with people and hang out because your kids want to play, and you want mom time.

But when your kids are both in school, it’s just a whole other story and this is just a whole other episode topic in and of itself. But I just want you to sit and sit in your season right now. Just reflect and think about what is your primary focus in your life right now? If you have little kids at home, I venture to guess that, and I guess I would say if you are their sole provider, then I would venture to guess your primary focus is going to be raising your kids.

But if you’re a work out of the home mom, and you have, you know, maybe your kids go to preschool or they are in daycare and you actually leave the home to actually work, that is the season that you’re in. So, depending on where we are, we’re all going to feel different levels of guilt. So, for me right now, the most guilt that I feel is I’m home all day. So, our house should always be clean, our food should always be prepped; I should be like a gourmet chef because I have all this time. When my kids come home from school, I should have a snack like prepared. It should be like a really nice homemade snack, not like pre-packaged or processed, it should be healthy. Like just all these things go through my mind because now I have so much time, that I used to say, Oh, I don’t have time. Well now I can’t use that excuse anymore, because I do have time, and so I’m just overwhelmed with a ton of guilt that’s not really necessarily meant for me.

I also think it’s important to note that just depending on what season you’re in, things change day by day, hour by hour, week by week. So, your priority when your kids are at school might be work, and then when they get home, your priority is your kids vice versa. If you’re home all day with your kids, you’re going to have to prioritize some business time. And I think that’s great, I think that there’s a time and a place to be working around your kids. And that’s another podcast episode in and of itself, is kind of how do you navigate working at home with kids? It’s hard, I’ve been there, I’ve done it but it’s possible.

So, I want you guys to sit in that season of life that you’re in right now. Think about what your priorities are, what do you want your finding family dynamic to look like? Because what’s great about entrepreneurship is that you get to choose. There’s no right or wrong answer, there’s no one size fits all. It really is dependent on you and your family dynamic. I think that what I want you to do is acknowledge the guilt that you’re feeling. I want you to name it, I want you to say it out loud, and I want you to be okay with the feeling of the guilt.

As I mentioned before, I don’t think it’s healthy at all to think about those feelings of guilt and then just instantly you know, discount them, like, Oh, well they just don’t matter. Or Oh, I just shouldn’t feel that way because there is an underlying reason why we’re feeling certain feelings. And so, we really need to get to the bottom of why. So, there are really two sides of the spectrum, I feel when it comes to guilt. You either feel guilty that you don’t spend enough time with your family because you’re dedicating time to your business. Or you feel guilty that your business isn’t growing the way you want it to be because you’re busy raising a family.

I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, which side are you on? I would venture to guess that there is one side that speaking more prominently to you right now. So, which one is it? So, I just want to share a little personal story with you guys about guilt and expectation, and kind of what I thought being a mom was going to be and what it definitely wasn’t.

So as a result of being a nanny, I actually have been a nanny for seven families, so some of them were after kids some were before kids. But I sort of went into motherhood with the same expectation that I did as a nanny. And I was a great nanny, I loved playing with the kids. I brought activities, I played games with them outside, inside. We went on walks; we went to different places. I mean, I was amazing, if I could back pat myself on the back a little bit there. But I seriously went into being a mom thinking it was going to be the same exact way, and that just wasn’t the case.

And of course, things were, things were going to be different. Of course, I had responsibilities of being an adult and owning a business, and there were just so many other things that went into it. Then I just felt so guilty all the time, that I didn’t want to play with my kids. But I felt so ingrained in my brain that that was my job. Like for so long I had been a nanny and that was what I was supposed to do. I mean, yes, I was getting paid so that was helpful and that made it more fun.

But I just felt so guilty that I spent all this time with other people’s kids. And then when I got to my own kids I just, I didn’t want to play anymore. I didn’t want to sit on the floor, I didn’t want to do the game, I didn’t want to do, I just didn’t want to. And it took me so many years to realize that like I didn’t enjoy being a stay at home mom. It wasn’t my passion; it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. And I felt so bad about it because I had been a nanny. I had done this for so many other people’s kids, and then when it came to my own kids, I’m like, Ooh, I don’t want to do this. Have you guys ever felt that kind of guilt so hard?

So, I came to this realization, I don’t want to be a full time stay at home mom. But the flip side was, I don’t want anyone else raising my child full time. So, I kind of had to make this decision, how am I going to make business ownership and staying at home with my kids work? So, I just decided that I was going to do both. So, I had my kids in preschool two days a week, as early as I could. So, when second child syndrome, I feel bad for my son, but he was in preschool right as soon as he turned three, and he went two full days a week, and I was not sad about it.

And right now, I feel guilty for saying that, it’s so funny. Guilt is so real and it’s just, I think that we all just need to look at guilt as being like, you know what? I have no one else, I don’t need to compare myself to anyone else. I just need to compare myself to who I was yesterday. Someone asked me the other day who I compare myself to or who I draw inspiration from, as far as how do I define what a good mom looks like? So, my answer was I always, since I went to school to be a teacher, I always look to experts. I look to parenting books, I look to research and statistics about kids and child development and appropriate behavior and brain development and all of those things.

So, I look to that as being the model of a parent that I want to be. And so, when this guilt like creeps in, I’m comparing myself to experts guys. I’m comparing myself to doctors and these people probably don’t have it all together either. You know what I’m saying? Like they have all of the good info and the good knowledge, but why do I feel like I’m less than when I don’t measure up to these standards?

And I want you guys to understand that there are always going to be these unmeetable, is that even a word? I’m making it up. They’re just standards that are not attainable okay? And we need to understand, again, back to that family dynamic, that we set the tone for our family dynamic. It might not work for someone else; they might look at us and be like, Oh, I, you know, I wonder why she doesn’t play with her kids? But you know what like Rachel Hollis says, what other people think of us is none of our business okay? And I want you guys to own that and to know that unless your guilt actually has sound reasoning behind it, then don’t worry about it. And we’re going to get to that in the next few minutes.

Hey mama, really quick. I want to check in on how you’re doing. Like how are you really doing? Are you overwhelmed trying to juggle all the things counting down the minutes until bedtime because you just need a second to yourself? Are you listening to podcast after podcast trying to figure out what you’re missing? I’ve been there, but I can tell you there’s a better way. It is possible to find peace in the chaos. Yes, peace in the midst of the hustle. You can wake up every morning with intention and live a life where your health, marriage, and home are more than just surviving. I want to introduce you to the roadmap to your most purposeful life.

Thriving with Purpose is an online workshop created just for you. It will help you gain focus and clarity in your life and become the mom, wife, and business owner you know, you can be. These lessons will guide you through how your identity affects your business, how to tidy up your life and gain mental clarity. Why physical self-care is so important, and how to navigate married life. There’s even a lesson about understanding your children and how not to lose your mind while being a parent. And finally, how to build an authentic business around your life, not the other way around.

This workshop has it all, and as a bonus for joining now, you will receive a 55-page PDF workbook to follow along with these video lessons, discussion questions, and fun activities and resources along the way. I’m offering this workshop for an extremely low and limited price, because I want you to be able to start seeing results right away. It is time to transform your life from feeling frazzled to focused and live a peaceful, contented life. Head to the to sign up and I can’t wait to see you inside.

Step Two: Find the Root of Your Guilt

We’re moving on to step two: find the root of your guilt. I want you guys to think about this, is the guilt that you’re feeling, is it true or is it not? So, I’m sure there’s a number of excuses that we can all associate with our feelings. But again, we aren’t just going to ditch these, in my opinion, it’s just not healthy. I feel like excuses are an outward expression of a deeper issue that we’re struggling with. Sometimes we just use excuses to help us survive, right? Like I don’t want to spiral into a deeper depression that I’m already in, so I’m just going to use this, excuse. Like, Oh, well my business isn’t growing as fast as it should be because I’m raising my kids.
Well true, that might be very well the case, but it also could be just a defense mechanism that we’re using not to grow our business because we don’t know what the next step looks like or we don’t know how to grow our business. These feelings are real, and I want you guys to sit with them. Dig deeper and begin to understand the why behind your feelings.

Now, guilt generally comes from a couple of different areas. Mostly for me, it comes from comparison and past hurt. So maybe you guys were raised by a parent who worked a lot, or was emotionally checked out, and you don’t want your children to feel those same feelings. Or maybe a spouse or a loved one said something to you about working all the time and it just brings up feelings of shame anytime you work in front of your family or around your kids.

Maybe you read this article, which is me, I’ve read this article about how you’re damaging your child’s brain by letting them watch too much screen time. Goodness, if I could tell you guys the number of times, I feel guilty about screen time, it would just boggle your mind and my kids have very strict screen time, but I still feel guilty. I feel like I’m doing it out of guilt. All these experiences can stir up so much guilt.

So, remember how I mentioned that I spent a lot of years feeling guilty about my business, not growing as quickly as I wanted it to. Well, it’s because I was watching everyone else on social media doing it better than I was, anyone else? I felt so inadequate, I felt frustrated that they were doing everything I wanted to be doing. I felt less than because of how I chose to spend my money around my in real life friends.

I felt like I was doing it wrong. I felt like their kids were perfect angels, they did everything by the textbook and my kids were just crazy and didn’t sleep. My daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 16 months old. There was so much guilt surrounding every other person that I came in contact with. I just felt like I couldn’t do it as well as everybody else. I didn’t have the perfect house or the perfect clothes and all of it was a lie.

I was looking to social media for my acceptance and my validation that I was doing things well. So, I want to give you guys full permission right now. If this is you, unfollow those people. If they’re your friends in real life, it’s okay to stop hanging out with them. If they’re making you feel like so strongly about you and your inadequacies or what you perceive as inadequacies, it just might be time. Might even be your family that lives outside of your house that you need to distance yourself from. That’s okay, you get to choose the environment that you surround yourself with and I’m telling you, environment changes everything.

But if this guilt that you’re feeling is coming from someone you know personally, who seems like they have it all together, I would encourage you, reach out to them, take them to coffee, get on a phone call with them. Anytime I have ever put someone that I admired on a pedestal, and then I asked them really what their life was like. Like I had an actual heart to heart conversation with this person. I quickly realized that they didn’t have it all together and that they struggled too. And there’s just something about knowing that you’re not alone that makes you feel closer to someone.
So, I totally encourage you to reach out and get on the phone with this person and really chat through what they’re going through. And maybe they have some tips and some tricks for you about what they’ve done to overcome some of those things. But if you take nothing else from this episode, I just want you to know this. Everyone struggles with something, whether they admit it or not you’re not alone. I know for a fact you’re not alone. I’m here to tell you I struggle just like you.

I know that there are other mommas who are lining up to just let you know you’re not alone, and they feel the pressure too. So, I would love for you to pause this episode right now. Head to Facebook, search for Purpose Gathering Mamas, and join us for an amazing community where we open up, we are vulnerable with each other and it is a place for you to feel known and supported and welcomed.

If you’re local, in Arizona, we would love to invite you to our meetups. So, on our website you guys can stay up to date with everything that’s happening. It’s, I’m definitely going to include it in the show notes and also a link to our Purpose Gathering Mama’s page. That way you guys can really get plugged in and connected. Because I feel like one of the things that is missing in our society today, is in-person, real life connection. And that is something that I’m so passionate about and I want to grow our community in a way that you guys can find your business besties.

Of course, listening to a podcast is great, but connecting with someone in real life that gets you. That is where the magic is going to happen. So, I really encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone, get to know some other local mamas. Even like I said, if you’re not in Arizona, we still want you guys to be able to connect with someone in the group that you can become an accountability partner with. Somebody maybe that’s in a similar industry or just has a life experience that’s similar to yours.

Okay, so let’s dive back into this formula that I want to kind of leave you with today. So first, you have identified your guilt, you’ve said it out loud, and you’ve kind of claimed this feeling that you’re having. Next, you’re going to check your priority and you’re going to understand right now in this moment, when I feel guilty, because you fill in the blank. I’m going to check it against my priority. This is my priority right now in the moment. Is it your family? Is it work? Is it both in that moment? And maybe you need to set some boundaries and guidelines around what that looks like. The next step after you’ve identified your priority is going to be, is this guilt real or is it fake?

Okay, and how you identify this, is there merit behind my guilt? Is my guilt somewhat true? Am I feeling guilty that I’m not spending quality time with my children? Because I’m really not spending quality time with my children? That would be a merited feeling of guilt, you’re feeling guilty because maybe you’re seeing your children are acting out. Maybe your children are not behaving well in school, and that could be a really big red flag, that you’re not spending quality time with your children.

So, after you’ve identified, is this real guilt, like does it really have substantial merit. Or is it fake? Like for me, when I was comparing myself to all these other people on social media, and it really wasn’t fair for me to be feeling guilty of those things because they’re not real feelings. They were actually just out of maybe jealousy, that they had more things than I had, or they had well behaved children and I didn’t, or you know what I mean? So, you kind of have to check your guilt and make sure that if the guilt is real, that you do something about it. If it’s not, it’s okay to just let that go and say, you know what? I am this way and our family is this way and I’m okay with that.

Step Three: What action do I take next?

So now the next step is going to be what action do I take next? So, let’s use that same example; I’m feeling guilty that I’m not spending quality time with my children, I’m working a lot. Maybe you work outside of the home and you come home, and you have a very limited time with your family. So, what are you going to do during that time?

So, what I would recommend is just coming up with a game plan. All right, so my kids need my attention. And just speaking here from experience and also just with my education background, your children do not need your undivided attention all of the time. They only need it for a very small amount of time, but when you’re present, be present.

So, we do special time every day, my children, and I. My husband, since he works long hours, he doesn’t necessarily get to it every day. But he does try to spend time with our kids on a daily basis. But for me, since I’m home more often, I give my children 10 minutes of undivided attention per day per child.

So, they get to choose how they spend it, and we can play a game. We can do Legos; we can do whatever they want. I let them choose. And then I set a timer for 10 minutes, and lately I’ve been trying not to set the timer because I don’t want it to feel like, Hey, your time’s up bye! But I kind of try to at least make it feel complete. Like, did I feel like we connected? Was it personal? Did I get to ask some questions? And this is just something you can work up to. I would start with 10 minutes a day per child, and I know that can feel super overwhelming to some of you who have a lot of kids. But I’m just telling you, start small, maybe it’s only five minutes and you just do like a quick check in with each kid.

But I’m telling you, this is a huge game changer in our family. And I can tell when my kids have not had this time.

Step Four: Replacing Guilt with Thankfulness

Okay, so the final step to this process of navigating guilt is to replace guilt with thankfulness. I think it’s so easy for us to just focus on the negative, weak areas that we have, right? We focus on our inadequacies, and I think it’s just human nature to focus on flaws. It’s just easier, comes more naturally to us, which is sad, but it’s the truth. I think that hope and healing only come when we focus on our strengths and how far we have come.

So, I talked about this earlier, like only comparing ourselves to our previous self. It’s the only true marker of progress. No one has your same story, no one has your childhood. No one has the same kids that you have with the struggles that your children have. I mean, there are so many variables, that it’s just not fair to compare ourselves to anyone else. No one has the exact talents, gifts, and beautiful intricacies that you have. The real magic begins when we unlock the woman God created us to be, and the only way we can do that is to see ourselves through the lens of God. What does he say about you? Who are you from his perspective?

Think of it this way, how would you feel if you heard your child say the things about them that we say in our head to ourselves? I mean, would you encourage them to just focus on their negative qualities and their weaknesses? Would you just kick them when they were down and pile on more and more guilt? No way! We would never ever let our child do that, so why do we do that to ourselves? If it were me, I would teach my child to have a growth mindset.

I talk about this all the time with my kids and understanding that you don’t become better at something just by wishing you were. You actually have to put hard work and time and dedication into it. Here’s one of my favorite strategies to use when I feel guilt creeping in. I ask myself, if a friend came to me and told me she was struggling with fill in the blank of the mom guilt, what would I tell her? And then I say out loud exactly what I would say to a struggling friend and I would do it again and again until I actually believed it, and then I would take my own advice.

Girl, you have the key to unlock the power within you. Don’t let this guilt hold you back anymore. Sometimes we let guilt paralyze us from actually doing anything. We already feel bad about it, so we either do the thing out of guilt or we do nothing at all. There’s a practice that I feel like is underutilized in our society today, and that’s gratitude. Being grateful for the things that we have, being grateful for the people that we are and how far we’ve come. That is so necessary, especially when it comes to navigating this guilt.

I feel like it’s almost celebrated when moms talk about their failures, like, Oh, I failed at this, and it just becomes so natural for us to be able to share our shortcomings easily. But what about our mom wins? How easy is it for you to think about where is it that I’m excelling? Where is it that I’m totally killing it and knocking it out of the park? Those are the areas that we need to be focusing on. Let’s focus on what we do well, and our kids are going to benefit and everyone around us when we have a more positive outlook on the way things are going. So, this idea of replacing guilt with thankfulness, it’s not a new idea. But it’s one that people choose not to do. It’s hard for us to actually sit and think about being thankful, but I’m telling you it changes everything.

So, let’s recap. When guilt starts creeping in, I want you to first acknowledge it, identify it, and say it by name. Next, I want you to find the root of the guilt. Where is this guilt coming from? Once you know that, you can start to think about, does this guilt have merit? Is it true? Is it not true? If it’s true, what action are you going to take to diminish that guilt? Replace that guilt with thankfulness and remember to give yourself the pep talk that you would give your child or a really close struggling friend.

Navigating mom guilt is not easy, it’s a practice and it takes time. But the more and the more that you practice this, I promise you it’s going to become so much easier to navigate in the future. Don’t worry, mama, I’m always here rooting for you, supporting you. And anytime that guilt starts creeping in, I want you to stop it in its tracks, walk through this system. Remember how far you’ve come and all the successes that you’ve had along the way and know that this guilt does not define who you are. Do not let it hold you back and be the woman that you know that you were created to be.
Stay tuned for next week’s episode where I’m going to elaborate more on this process and how it looks to set boundaries and routines in your life, in your business. So, you can practically see how this would play out in your everyday life.


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My mission is to help fellow momtogs (mama photographers!) experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for momtogs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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