Control your mommy guilt!

July 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Ninety-four percent of moms feel guilty about something according to BabyCenter.com. So what are the top mommy guilt trips? And how do you stay positive and not let the guilt control you? Linda Murray, editor-in-chief of BabyCenter.com, shares some practical advice.

7 mommy guilt trips

Feeding your baby formula
If you're grieving the loss of nursing, allow yourself your sadness. But then accept that you did your best, and move on. Breast milk is not the be-all-end-all -- loving your baby is infinitely more important. And formula-fed babies are also thriving, nourished, and nurtured. As one BabyCenter mom says, "The best thing you can do for your baby is to be a happy mom - and if that means no breastfeeding, then that's the best choice for your family."

Using TV as a babysitter
The key is moderation. If your child is under 2, keep viewing time to a minimum, and break it into 15-minute chunks. Watch with your child, and pick programs that are appropriate. If your child is older, see our TV guidelines for preschoolers and big kids. Then relax and send your guilt on its way.

Being environmentally unfriendly
Focus on the dozens of small changes you can make. Try unplugging appliances when they're not in use, doing your laundry in cold water when possible, lighting your home with fluorescent bulbs, and other easy, earth-friendly tricks. Don't worry too much about the Greens next door -- maybe someday soon you'll be giving them tips.

Feeding your kids junk food
Eating fast food as often as twice a week is fine as long as you choose relatively low-fat options, says Mary Savoye-Desanti, a bionutritionist at Yale University and director of the Bright Bodies Program. That could mean ordering a regular single-patty hamburger instead of a double-patty burger loaded with sauce and cheese, a sandwich with chicken that's grilled rather than fried, a pizza with extra vegetables and less cheese instead of pepperoni, or a baked potato or side salad in place of fries.

Leaving your child with another caregiver
Relieve your guilt by choosing the best that you can. To ease the transition, become familiar with your care provider before you go back to work. Maybe even leave your child there for a few hours while you run an errand. And finally, remember that your work serves a crucial purpose.

Yelling at your kids
When this happens, take a careful look at your own behavior. Was the yelling out of the ordinary? Are you usually calm with your child? If yes, then let yourself off the hook and take this as a learning opportunity for both of you. Reassure your child that everything is okay, and explain what happened. But if screaming is becoming a habit, you may need to take action to manage your anger and reduce your stress levels. Join a support group, see a counselor, read relevant books and articles, or get help from moms on our Parenting styles and strategies board. You can also get tips on avoiding yelling from BabyCenter moms.

Not being able to afford all the extras
Instead of focusing on what you can't give your child, focus on what he can have. For example, instead of the high-end music class, try a free class or library story time.

For more information, visit BabyCenter.com

About Linda J. Murray
Linda J. Murray is the Editor in Chief of BabyCenter. She began her career at BabyCenter in 1998 in the fledgling days of the Internet and helped build the Web site into the leading online destination for new and expectant parents. During her tenure at BabyCenter, traffic has grown from 250,000 visitors to well over 3 million a month. Prior to joining BabyCenter she was a Senior Editor at Child magazine where she specialized in the subjects of children's health and safety. Her career also included editing positions at Redbook, Self, and Cosmopolitan magazines, and a stint as the Associate Producer of the public television program, The Open Mind. Murray is the co-author of The BabyCenter Essential Guide to Pregnancy and Birth (Rodale). She has appeared on numerous TV programs including 20/20, The CBS Early Show, CNN, and MSNBC News. A transplanted New Yorker, she now lives in the Bay Area with her family. She is the proud mother of a preschool daughter.


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