Ain’t no Mom Guilt Like 2020 Mom Guilt!

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Cuz 2020 mom guilt don’t stop!

Is it just me, or does COVID and all the stuff that comes with it result in a ridiculously large amount of ‘feeling bad’ when you’re a mom? Here are a few doubts that roll around in my head on a daily basis as a stay at home mom of three little boys, and how I reframed some things when I realized just how much guilt I was feeling!

Why isn’t the house clean??
Let’s start with a classic, shall we? if I’m at my house all day, every day, WHY do I find it completely impossible to keep it neat(ish)?

Why aren’t we eating better? 
Along with the cleaning, shouldn’t my family be eating healthy, homecooked meals every night, since I’m rarely leaving the house? Um, no, it’s likely chicken nuggets in front of the TV for the kids. Later we’ll do salads for the grown-ups followed by unnecessary amounts of ice cream. I just don’t have the energy to research, plan ahead, and cook something special every night.

Am I saying “no” too often? 
No playgrounds. No restaurants. No, you can’t come in to Target or the grocery store with me. For a while, it was even no family and no playdates, although we’ve eased up a bit on this as policies on gatherings have changed. I wanted to cry the time I had to tell my very social preschooler that he couldn’t go play with our brand new four-year-old neighbor, that the best we could do was talking to him through the woods. If I hear one more ‘pwease’ out of his cute little mouth I just don’t know what I’ll do.

How much is too much screen time? 
I saw a meme that stated ‘the one piece of medical advice I’m not planning on following during the pandemic is the AAP’s guidelines on screen time’ and I’ve never felt so seen. Sometimes a mom just needs a break. I never thought my six-year-old would play video games every day, but here we are in 2020, breaking all the rules.

How do I fit in one-on-one time? 
I have three children six and under. They are currently all obsessed with me (at least the feeling is mutual). I long for the days when they were sometimes busy with things outside the family, and I could get in a little solo bonding time with each of their sweet little personalities. I miss playing board games with my big boy, snuggles with the baby, and laughing and exploring with my middle boy. Which brings me to the next item on my list…

When will we be able to attend fun activities again? 
I don’t know about you, but seeing the smile on my kids’ faces when they’re doing something they love really gives me all the feels. And having to tell them no, I don’t know when you can go back to swim lessons, or no, we can’t go to Monster Mini Golf anytime soon, feels like someone kicked me in the stomach.

How many more decisions will there be? 
So far 2020 is just one big instance of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. The decisions that Moms have to make right now are usually between two similarly important outcomes. Should I provide my children and myself with an opportunity for socialization after months of isolation… Or continue to protect my family from a potentially deadly disease? Should I let my child participate in an activity that’s important to them… Or continue to protect my family from a potentially deadly disease? Should I send my children back to school in person this fall… Or continue to protect my family from a potentially deadly disease? These decisions are complicated by the fact that our information about the virus and it’s risks is limited and ever-changing. I spent a lot of time making decisions concerning my children BEFORE COVID, making these decisions now is completely torturous. How can you accurately assess risk and benefit without information? You can’t, you just have to take a guess and hope for the best.

Should I be teaching them things? 
Between attempting to keep my house from looking like an explosion, dishes, laundry, caring for a baby, preparing more meals and snacks than your average chef, trying to spend quality time with the kids, attempting to maintain my sanity, and (clearly) overthinking, I definitely don’t have time to plan educational activities in advance. If it’s not in a kit that came from the library or an Amazon deal of the day, it’s not happening. I see people posting on Facebook and Pinterest the great, creative activities they do with their kids. Unfortunately, the last time I did set something up ahead of time, they played for five minutes, then told me it was ‘not fun’. Big surprise that I’m not really motivated to try again.

What about my own screentime? 
I so don’t want to be that mom who is always staring at her phone while her kids vie for her attention. But between social media, texting, and FaceTime, my phone is a huge way that I connect with the world outside my house right now. In addition, I use my phone to order groceries, buy baby essentials, get new info on COVID, listen to music and podcasts, and read an occasional Kindle book. So it’s pretty impossible to never be on it when they’d like my attention (since that’s 24/7).

Shouldn’t I be “enjoying every moment”?
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and there hasn’t been much absence happening around here lately. Let me be clear that there are moments every day where I feel like my heart might explode with love for these kids, like when my two biggest insist on sleeping in the same bed, or when they coo over the baby together, or when one wraps their little arms around me and tells me they love me. But sometimes I’m just making time until bedtime, which makes me feel terrible.

Could I use my time more wisely? 
When I do get a break, I usually have a long list of items that I’d like to accomplish. But sometimes I just need to lie on my couch and watch Gilmore Girls for the 8 millionth time and clear my brain.

Shouldn’t I be a morning person by now? 
This baby of mine? He is SO cute and lovable. Looking at his sweet little face has brought me immeasurable joy during this weird time in our lives. He’s also the worst sleeper of the bunch, and at 7 months old still gets up multiple times a night and wants to be nursed back to sleep. So I’m not exactly jumping out of bed in the morning, spreading sunshine. It’s more of a slow, painful transition while one or more of my kids yells in my ear or jumps on me for a ‘hug’. Either that or I tell them to go turn on the TV while I peel myself out of bed (see previous item; too much screen time).

Is crabby normal? 
All this stuff just makes me cranky and worn out. I do my best not to let the kids see it, but I know my mood is less than it could be. If my kids have to be stuck at home with me, I at least wish it was the best version of me.



When I started writing this, I thought I could come up with four or five items, not thirteen. I realized I was spending a LOT of every day feeling guilty, and that’s just no good. So here’s how I’m reframing this:
I may not be following a specific learning plan, but they are getting lots of free play and reading tons of books, which actually might be better. The screen time might be excessive, but it’s still (usually) only a fraction of their day. I might be grumpy and take a while to get up in the morning, but I’m also full of smiles and hugs for them even on rough days. I may spend time on my phone, but I always look up when they need me. Planning and cleaning might not be my strengths, but patience and relationship building are. This COVID stuff is HARD but I’m teaching them that they are strong and they can do hard things. My goal is to preserve our collective mental and physical health as much as possible. We’re surviving, they know they are loved, and that’s all that matters. We’ll thrive some other time.

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