Five Tips to Overcome the Holiday 'Mom Guilt'

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this holiday season, start by asking yourself if you're happy 

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By Susana Marquez, MFT and Mommy In Los Angeles® Magazine Wellness Columnist

Mamas, which one of us is immune to the horrible, dark, looming feeling of GUILT?

Anyone?

I can strongly say we have all experienced it at one time, that infamous, awful mom guilt!

It's like a rainy cloud hanging over our heads during 365 days of the year. It makes us question ourselves as mothers. It makes us believe we are ruining our childrens' lives and it can create an unnecessary amount of stress. Adding the holidays to that can cause mom guilt to ake a life of its own, causing extremes amount of stress and anxiety.

So what is it about the holidays that increases our mom guilt?

Here's one idea: We already do so much throughout the year, we want our families to be happy, we take on more than we can chew and we run ourselves on empty at times, leading us to get sick. That's not enough though! 

Society tells us that during the last 60 days of the year, we have to run on full throttle because in order to keep our children and family happy, we have to attend and host dinners and parties, we have to buy gifts, we have to join family members we'd rather not see, we have to decorate perfectly, we have to bake and we must make the Santa visits or we're not in the holiday spirit!

Now don’t get me wrong, mamas! I'm not against having fun for the holidays, enjoying time with your loved ones, taking your children to see Santa, attending family events and decorating your house, but how much is enough and at what cost?

If you have a roof over your head, you have a meal and are sharing it with loved ones, you are all healthy and in harmony, your children are laughing, having fun, opening a few gifts, your home is full of laughter, old traditions are being passed onto new generations, new ones are being made and you can feel the love, then why the guilt?

Say you don’t decorate your house, you don’t partake in the elf on the shelf tradition, you choose not to buy gifts and wear your Christmas pajamas rather than your sexy cocktail dress, there is still no need to feel mom guilt. Remember– you are celebrating the way it pleases you and your family and that, mamas, should be guilt-free!

But, if you are overwhelming yourself, sensing huge amounts of stress because you are not able to please everyone or do everything this holiday season, then it's time to take a step back and reflect on what is really important to you and your family during this time of year. 

Here are 5 steps to help you get over the MOM GUILT during this holiday season.

  1. LET IT GO. Yes mamas, let go of all unrealistic expectations and the need to please everyone. Let go of the mom guilt because you told your aunt, boss or friend you wouldn't be attending their holiday event. Let go of the idea that you'll make it to every event on time, flawlessly, that your kids won’t throw tantrums or be fussy and that you won’t eat more than you “planned”. Let go of the idea of getting your children every toy they ask for and running around town until you find it because it's the “toy of the year.” Let go of the burden that is placed on the holidays, don’t make it an overwhelming duty and don't exhaust yourself preparing for it. Make it memorable, even if it means lounging in your pajamas with your family all day; make it what YOU want out of it!
  2. SET BOUNDARIES. The holidays are not the time to hash out old resentments or deal with family drama. Though it's common that families may try to hash things out this time of year, don’t engage if this may cause added stress! Be clear with your boundaries, set them firmly and don’t allow others to make you change your mind with guilt. You can always take your time to sit down with a family member at another time. Don’t be forced into doing something you don’t want to in the name of the Holiday spirit! That may cost you your sanity and happiness, and that’s not worth it!
  3. SAY NO. Just like being firm with boundaries and unrealistic expectations, one must learn to be clear and firm when saying no. If you don’t want to drive over an hour to get to an event, if you don’t want to be part of a gift exchange, if you don’t want to spend money on gifts this year (for whatever reason), just say no. Don’t explain your reason, don’t elaborate, don’t justify, and don’t provide details that are unnecessary to the other person. Just clearly say, “No, thank you” and spend your time and emotions on what will make you happy during the holidays.
  4. BE REAL. Moms must understand that perfection and parenting do not co-exist. You will not be able to attend all family events, holiday parties, buy all the gifts and please everyone. Let’s be real, it’s not going to happen! Someone will be unhappy or upset that you didn’t attend their event, or that you left early or arrived late, or that you didn’t try their dish or that you don’t agree with their politics. That’s absolutely fine! Accept that people’s feelings may get hurt and that is ok. Accept that we don’t have super powers and we won’t be able to do more than we already do, it’s ok!
  5. HAVE A PLAN. Mamas, we're the pillars and driving mechanisms in our family.  We are the ones making holiday plans and informing our families about how the holidays will be spent. Make an effort to sit down with your family, discuss the Holidays and the events for which you've received an invitation. If your children are old enough, engage them, ask them what they would like to participate in, incorporate family traditions or begin new ones. Share with your partner what you would like and how you foresee each night leading to Christmas. Make sure you set a plan where your family is priority!

So this holiday season mamas ask yourself are you happy? Did your family enjoy the holidays? Did you focus on what truly matters this holiday season and did you capture those moments? Then if so, you not only survived the holidays you succeeded in teaching your children what truly matters and you accomplished it by being guilt free! So enjoy that drink mamas, or two, just make sure to do it guilt-free! Happy Holidays!

Feel Empowered. Feel Strong. Feel Validated, Mamas!

Anabel Marquez