Whether you co-slept or your baby was in a crib, it doesn’t matter.

You’re guilty.

Whether you stayed at home or went to work, it doesn’t matter.

You’re guilty.

Whether you fed them junk food or didn’t allow it, it doesn’t matter.

You’re guilty.

Regardless of how you taught them, disciplined them, or provided for them it doesn’t matter.

None of it matters.

You’re. Still. Guilty.

From the time you learn you are carrying life inside of you it becomes your number one priority to keep the most precious thing in the world safe.  Understanding that another being’s best interest is in your hands is a terrifyingly humbling feeling. Your children have an enormous amount of trust in your capabilities, and depend immensely on your ability to make practical, reasonable, and informed decisions on their behalf until they reach an age where they can make their own. With this in mind, you agonize over the daily decisions you have to make pertaining to what you think is best for your child, sometimes spending hours weighing options, doing research, and finally narrowly compromising with ourselves on a decision.

It’s a part of motherhood that many struggle with and it is entirely normal.  However, being aware of the normalcy doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Using a simple approach, such as a “R.E.L.A.X” strategy to help us cope with the heavy responsibility on your shoulders allows for the opportunity to overcome the daunting guilt and carry on as effective parents.

Research

Ask people you know and trust. Read books. Find online articles from well-known and dependable resources. Pull in information from a number of sources and really contemplate what you’ve learned. Does it feel right? Does it compliment your beliefs? Does it make you feel comfortable? If your newfound knowledge makes sense to you then it is time to make your decision. It’s a lot easier to come to a conclusion when you are confident that you’re educated. Once you’ve reached a decision, stick with it! You’ve done the research and you’ve weighed your options. Ultimately, you know your child best. Have solace in the fact that you’ve paired an informed decision with intuition; this equation usually has the best outcome.

Escape the media

Take a look on your social media feed. What do you see? Probably a great deal of headlines stating the latest and “best” research contradicting everything you’ve ever done as a mother. There’s a lot of information floating around on that world wide web.We live in a society that is so hard on parents. There is no pleasing anyone, and everyone is an expert. Some of it is legitimate and worth considering, but a lot of it comes from unreliable sources masked as reputable. Narrow down what you’re subjected to. You can control the media that you see. Take the time to customize it and ensure you’re not being inundated with material that isn’t going to benefit you. Take everything with a grain of salt and don’t allow yourself to be put into a frenzy with information that may or may not be accurate. A simple “unfollow” can turn unnecessary hogwash from anxiety provoking to “out of sight, out of mind”.

Let yourself off the hook

It truly takes a village to raise your child. You’re not the only person impacting the outcome of the day to day care of your child. Moms tend to put so much pressure on themselves that they often forget that they are only a part of how a child is being brought up. Everything a child does, everywhere they go, everyone they see all impact the way that child thinks and behaves. They have teachers, extended family, coaches, daycare providers, community program facilitators, etc. that they see daily. All of these people your child comes in contact with will make an impression on the person they become. Understand that you aren’t your child’s only source of influence, especially when you see a behavior from them that you don’t necessarily understand.

Allow yourself to make mistakes

Parenting is an incredibly difficult job. An individual manual that came with your child would make raising them a lot easier, but seems how that doesn’t exist, heed that as a reminder: there’s no way to do this perfectly. Acknowledge to your child if you feel you’ve done something you need to apologize for. It will make you feel better and they will appreciate seeing you as a human being. Your child will build a reasonable understanding of self-awareness when they make their own mistakes. They will be able to take the necessary steps to redeem themselves in an appropriate and mature manner. You grow and learn from the mistakes you make. Your child will grow and learn from your mistakes, as well.

eXhale

You’re only raising a child to be a productive member of society that has strong morals, high ethics, that is responsible, hardworking, and compassionate, while being healthy, well-educated, and independent. It’s no big deal, right?

Ya, right…

The importance of your job as a parent is significant. Aside from all the required duties (providing food, shelter, and love) there’s everything else you put on yourself as well. Give yourself a minute to recharge. You’re going to struggle if you pour from an empty cup. The best thing you can do for your child is to take care of YOU. Whether you exercise, take a bath, read a book, or whatever it is that makes you relax, you need to take the time to ensure that happens for YOU. Take a literal breath. If you can’t fit in the self care that you require immediately take a moment to take a few deep breaths. Inhale for 3 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds. The more taken care of you are, the more you can take care of your child in an effective, positive manner. Do you know what else? Your child needs to see that, too. They need to realize that parents require love, care, and attention so they can grow up understanding that loving yourself is just as important as loving others.

It’s impossible to not feel any guilt about anything. However, the looming feeling that your choices weren’t the “right” ones or that you could have done something better are indicative of one thing: You’re doing a good job. No. You’re doing a great job. Let yourself know that. Focus on the things that you undoubtedly know you have done “right” and let go of any thoughts that contradict that.

Your children truly don’t stay little for long. I know you’ve heard that a million times, but it’s true. There are so many other distractions in daily life such as bills that need to be paid, careers, housework, preparing food, and the list goes on. These tasks take us away from enjoying the moments of parenting that really are exciting and powerful. Don’t let guilt become a part of that list of distractions that consume your already limited time.

Take a minute, R.E.L.A.X., and enjoy raising your children.