Do you struggle with how to put yourself first without feeling guilty? If so, you’re not alone!
Most women have a hard time prioritizing themselves, especially once they have children. Then the good old mom guilt sets in.
Ya know, that relentless feeling that you’re never doing a good enough job as a mother and anything you do for yourself is somehow taking something away from your kids? (It’s not!)
In fact, by taking care of yourself first and foremost, you are actually doing the best thing possible for your children.
In this post, I will help you see why this is true and provide 5 mindset shifts you can use to finally stop feeling guilty for putting yourself first!
Why do I feel so guilty when I put myself first?
Have you ever really thought about where your mom guilt comes from? I have.
I can remember being a young girl and writing out a Mothers’ day card for my own mom. I wrote about how much I loved her and how she was such a great mom because she was so “selfless”.
I don’t think I truly even grasped the meaning of the word “selfless” at 10 years old, but I had already come to understand through society’s messaging that being a selfless mother somehow equated to being a “good” mother. And of course, my mom was the best, so why not put this praise for her selflessness into my card?
If the “selfless mother” is touted as the ideal by the society in which we’ve grown up, then of course once we become mothers ourselves, it follows that we continue to hold ourselves to this standard. Any time we honor our own needs and wants, we are moving further away from being selfless and thus the guilt ensues.
This is compounded by the fact that being selfless is an unattainable standard to meet. Nobody can be selfless. We’re humans; we all have wants and needs that we must fulfill. And any time we grant ourselves permission to do so, it somehow feels like we’re falling short of this standard.
“I’m not doing enough”….”I can never do enough”…..”I’m not enough”….these sure sound like hallmarks of mom guilt, don’t they?
Am I selfish for putting myself first?
Many of us believe that self-care is selfish, frivolous, or self-indulgent. We think we don’t have time for it or that we don’t deserve it.
But in order to learn how to put yourself first without feeling guilty, you must come to understand that self-care is simply a way to show yourself love.
Would you want the people you love, like your children or your partner, to feel guilty for loving themselves? Of course not. So why should you not allow yourself to do the same?
Furthermore, true self-care doesn’t require large amounts of time, nor is practicing it regularly selfish in any way. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Your children are naturally going to be your #1 priority, but that doesn’t mean that their needs are more important than yours because how are you supposed to take care of them if your own well-being is suffering?
By making regular “deposits” into your self-care bank, you ensure that you have the necessary “funds” in the way of physical and mental fortitude to best care for the people you love.
To make it real simple – when you’re at your best, you can give your best to others – and this is what putting yourself first and prioritizing your self-care provides you. There is truly nothing selfish about it.
How do you self-care without feeling guilty?
I hope by now you agree, at least on an intellectual level, that you cannot give to your family if you’re not taking care of yourself first and foremost. But still, how do you do self-care without feeling guilty?
In order to challenge that persistent mom guilt, I’d like you to try on the following mindset shifts for size.
5 Mindset Shifts – How to Put Yourself First Without Feeling Guilty
1. Selfless shouldn’t be the goal
If you look up “selfless” in a dictionary, it is defined as “having little or no concern for oneself”. So that begs the question – who came up with this ridiculous idea that a mother should have little or no concern for herself in order to love her people best???
It’s time we shift our thinking and realize that maybe “selfless” shouldn’t be the goal. Then it follows that if being selfless is not the goal, there is no need to feel guilty when you do something for yourself, amiright?
2. Taking care of YOU benefits everyone
Making sure to take care of yourself well has a huge impact on your physical and mental state. It helps you maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind. Both contribute to your overall well-being and that of your family.
Furthermore, when you’re doing a good job of caring for your mindset in particular, you bring positive energy, calm, and happiness to those around you, rather than the resentment and anxiety that is associated with the exhausted and depleted version of yourself.
You can see how this benefits everyone in the family, not just you, right?
3. Your kids want a happy mom
When you’re not prioritizing and taking care of your own needs, it’s difficult to feel happy in life. And when you’re not happy, your kids can tell.
Additionally, it’s very likely that they may even think that they’re to blame, as young kids tend to think everything is about them!
This also affects how you interact with your children. They become another task on your to-do list and they can feel that vibe from you.
I’m sure that’s not how you see them and not how you want them to feel. So lose the mom guilt and give yourself permission to prioritize yourself and be a happy mom for your kids.
That’s really all they want!
4. Prioritizing YOU is a necessary investment
As a mom, you are truly the glue of the family. You hold it all together and are the indispensable machine that makes everything run smoothly.
Nobody wants that machine to break down and thus it’s imperative that you continuously invest in its maintenance by putting your self-care as a top priority.
It’s a very necessary investment in order to keep everything afloat.
5. You’re modeling for your children
I want my children to develop self-love and self-compassion and when they grow up, I hope they will lead full lives in which they care for themselves well, prioritizing their happiness and the things that bring them joy.
I realize that as their mother, I am modeling what this looks like. Thus, there is no reason to feel guilty for being their teacher and living my own life in the way that I hope they will.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to put yourself first without feeling guilty, are you ready to start doing it?
Adopting a mindset in which you prioritize and make space for yourself in your life is how you practice true self-care.
By caring for yourself first and foremost, you’re better able to pour back out to the people you love and give the best of yourself to them. I don’t see any room for guilt in that equation. 😘
How will you take the first step in prioritizing yourself? Let us know in the comments below.
Did you like this post? Check out some others along these lines:
Carly is a wife, mom, and former NYC fashion industry executive turned writer and life coach. Through her writings on littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice, heartfelt insights, and actionable resources to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life. Carly also helps women create better balance in their lives and live with more joy, purpose, and connection every day through her coaching.