We need to work harder to stop mom guilt. Here are 10 Things To Stop Feeling Guilty About as a mom. Everything from feeding your child formula to not buying organic food, these things aren’t worth beating yourself up over.
Today my friend and fellow Registered Dietitian Sally from Real Mom Nutrition is taking over the blog to talk about mom guilt.
For moms, the guilt trip begins even before the baby arrives.
- “Are you going to try for a natural birth?’
- “You’re planning to breastfeed, right?”
- “I hope you’re going to use cloth diapers.”
- “Wow, you’re HUGE!”
By the time your child is born, you may think you’re pretty good at dealing with nosey and judge-y people. But oh, the judgment is just getting started! And food is one of the biggest sources of guilt and angst for moms. Between what you’re told by friends, celebrities, social media, and totally random strangers in line at Whole Foods, it can be tough to navigate without feeling like a lousy parent.
But I’m here to tell you: It’s time to relax! Here are ten things to stop fretting about:
(Note from Lindsay – you can read about my experience in this post: Breastfeeding Is Hard)
Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing. As a dietitian, I know about the benefits and support women who do it. But if you can’t breastfeed (or don’t want to), formula is a healthy and safe option. I battled supply and latch issues and ended up using formula. But I spent far too much time mired in guilt and shame over it and don’t wish those feelings on any new mom. So do what works for you, and know that whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, you’re providing nourishment for your baby.
- Jarred Baby Food
If you want to make your own baby food, that’s great! But I don’t see anything wrong with using jarred food if that works better for you—especially if it means you’ll be less stressed or have time to catch an extra nap. Besides, there are so many wholesome options that don’t have fillers or other additives. You can even snag store-brand organic jarred baby food at a reasonable price.
- Packaged Food
You probably try to eat a lot of whole, unprocessed foods. But packaged food is not the enemy. I couldn’t get by without packaged crackers and tortillas, canned beans, bagged salad, and boxed cereal. I read labels to make better choices, but I don’t feel bad about not making everything from scratch.
I don’t know what it is about kids and ketchup. Mine have dipped practically everything into it, including asparagus spears. My younger son has slurped it plain with a spoon (that’s my cue to take the bottle off the table). But I know that their ketchup obsession is fleeting–and that ketchup can actually be a great tool to encourage them to try unfamiliar foods.
- Ranch Dressing
Ranch dressing is another magical vehicle for turning new foods into something your kids just might try. It’s the reason my older son eats greens salads and takes carrots in his lunch box. Dips and sauces like ranch, BBQ, ketchup, and even butter add flavor to foods that may otherwise seem bitter or bland to kids. In one study, preschoolers who were especially sensitive to bitter flavors ate 80 percent more broccoli at snack time when it was served alongside ranch dressing (read more here).
- Cereal for Dinner
I’m a big proponent of family dinner, and I cook dinner most nights of the week. But sometimes dinner inspiration feels more like dinner desperation. That’s when you pull out the cereal (or PBJs, or boxed mac and cheese) and call it a day. An occasional cereal-for-dinner night never hurt anyone, especially if everyone is sitting around the table together and especially when you add milk and a side of fruit. In my book, that’s preferable to greasy pizza delivery.
- Boring Lunch Boxes
Do the perfectly packed lunches on Instagram make you feel inadequate? I’m guilty of posting photos of photogenic lunch boxes to give people ideas. But I’m also not above just getting it done with a turkey sandwich or PBJ and cup of applesauce. And you know what? My kids love those boring lunch boxes. So don’t feel pressure to pack sushi and kale salads, especially if what your kid really wants is a turkey sandwich and cup of applesauce.
- Kids Who Won’t Eat Broccoli
It’s normal for kids to go through an especially picky phase between ages 2-6 and even reject foods they used to devour. Continue to serve a variety of healthy foods, be patient, and focus on the long-term goals: You want a child eats lots of heealthy foods because he wants to, not because he has to. (If you want more strategies for picky eating, I have a free Picky Eater Problem Solver course—you can sign up here.)
- Kids Who Like Junk Food
Does your friend’s kid prefer Brussels sprouts over cookies? How fabulous for her. But most kids like the taste of junk food because it’s engineered to taste amazing. So don’t feel like a failure because your child digs the taste of chips or soda. My strategy is to stock healthy foods at home but allow for some junk when we’re out and about.
- Not Buying All Organic
As a dietitian, I want people to eat a variety of healthy foods, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables—no matter whether they’re organic or conventional. If organic is important to you, go for it. If you don’t have the budget for it, buy fresh, healthy foods and know that a healthy pattern of eating—lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and protein—is the most important thing.
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. She is the author of The Snacktivist’s Handbook: How to Change the Junk Food Snack Culture at School, in Sports, and at Camp—and Raise Healthier Snackers at Home. She also collaborated with Cooking Light on Dinnertime Survival Guide, a cookbook for busy families. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.