This article was originally published in Motherhood Matters on

 Almost every day I battle a voice in my head.

It’s more of a constant string of thoughts, really. They start simple enough, reminding me of the things I need to do: “Don’t forget to cycle the laundry before it sours again. Get down on the floor and play with the boys. Call and reschedule the dentist appointments.”

But by the end of the day, these thoughts — stacked one on top of the other — can have quite the negative impact, especially those thoughts that I did not act upon. I collectively call these nagging thoughts “mom guilt” because they always center around one thing — my ability to be a good mother (or what I think a good mother should be).

Last Saturday was a wonderful day that I spent doing wonderful things like sleeping in, making my family a pancake breakfast and taking a nap with my toddler on the couch. It was a really nice family day.

Yet, all day I had the hardest time staying focused. Rather than enjoying each lazy moment, I was thinking about all of the chores and tasks that I wasn’t doing. My mind was full of “should-have’s” and “could-have’s.”

As moms, we all suffer from “should-have’s” and “could-have’s.” And when we listen to the self-inflicted mom guilt, we start to believe we are less of a person than we are, that we are not good enough. We really believe there are more important things we should have done than spend quality time with our children.

We must fight off this unnecessary mom guilt. How? It’s not so easy. But there are some things we can do to lessen the guilt we feel at the end of the day when we don’t get everything done:

Live present in each moment

If we decide to live present in each moment, we can more fully appreciate the lazy times and get the most out of the busy times. The easiest way to embrace each moment and remain present is to block time in our schedule for family, work, chores, etc. Designate specific times for house cleaning, art projects with the kids and checking your email.

The easiest way to embrace each moment and remain present is to block time in our schedule for family, work, chores, etc.

It may sound rigid, but when you know you are focused on the right activities during the allotted time, it helps ease your guilt that you should be somewhere else doing something else.

Spontaneity is important too and keeps things fun, but time-blocking your schedule can help on a daily basis.

Learn to enjoy down time

I admit I am not very good at this. How many of us moms feel like we have to be doing something all the time in order to be productive? There is such value in enjoying down time.

To ease into down time, start by choosing some low-key activities you enjoy. You could read a book, play a card game, watch football or the news.

Keep an accomplishments list

To-do lists only fuel my mom guilt. I start a list for Monday and it takes me clear through Friday to get it all done. Instead, try starting an accomplishment list or an end-of-day journal where you write down all the things you did get done and the good moments you did have throughout the day.

Sometimes all we need is a shift in perspective.