Discussion Guide–I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids

“It’s not a real moms’ group unless someone’s crying”

Before starting a discussion about the book, we recommend laying down a few ground rules. It’s important to create an atmosphere that gives moms permission to truly be themselves, and talk about motherhood in an authentic way. Once we can be honest, with ourselves and with others, then we can begin to live happier lives in motherhood. In order to support a 100% honest environment, there has to be a no judgment rule—no judging yourselves, and no judging others, no matter what is said. Supporting each other is vital—if we can learn from each other, we’ll all be better for the experience.

We designed these questions as thought-starters. Our hope is that the members of the group will start to offer advice and solutions to each other throughout the discussion. To investigate some of the tangible solutions we discovered during our interviews with other moms, please refer to the book.


  • Ask yourself—do you give yourself permission to be honest about how you feel in motherhood today?



  • How is motherhood different than you expected?
  • Are you the kind of mother that you imagined you would be? If not, how is the reality different from your plans or expectations?
  • We feel that our generation of women was raised with the expectation that we could and should ‘do it all.’ What are the pressures on today’s mothers, and how do they differ from past generations?
  • Do you ever feel that you should feel lucky to be a mother in this generation?
  • Many moms today walk around with an unrealistic idea of a ‘good mom’ in their heads. What are the things you do (or don’t do) that make you feel like a ‘bad mom’? For example, one mom felt that to be a ‘good mom,’ she had to have a homemade dinner on the table every night. Another mom felt like a ‘bad mom’ if her patience ran out with her kids.

Discussing CHOICES:

  • Do you feel that you make the choices in your life based on others’ expectations? For example, one mom we interviewed said that she realized (after the fact) that she made the choice to quit her job and stay home with her baby because that’s what her mother thought she should do.
  • What’s the hardest choice you’ve had to make as a mother?
  • Do your choices make you feel free, or do they make you feel overwhelmed?
  • Do you still question your choices or have you made peace with them? If you have made peace with them, how did you do that?

Discussing JUDGMENT:

  • Do you compare yourself to other moms to assure yourself that you’re making the right choices?
  • Do you feel like other moms are more “together” than you are?
  • Do you ever feel judged for the choices you make? Who is judging you for your choices? How does that make you feel? How do you handle the judgment of others?

Discussing GUILT:

  • It seems every mom has some kind of guilt. For some, going to work creates feelings of guilt. Other moms feel guilty if they take time for themselves (to exercise or relax). What triggers your guilt?
  • Guilt is usually the result of believing that you have done something wrong, or of failing to meet your own expectations. Is your guilt a result of your own expectations, or what someone else expects of you?

Discussing HUSBANDS:

  • How did your relationship with your spouse change after having a baby?
  • Do you feel like you and your spouse agreed on your expectations of one another once you had a baby? For example: division of household duties, sex life, childcare duties, who works & how much, etc.
  • Do you find it easy to ask your husband for help? As one mom we interviewed said, “I don’t know how to ask for help; I just know how to scream at my husband.”
  • Do you thank your husband for the positive things he does and his hard work? Does he thank you for yours?


  • Has it been hard for you to maintain a sense of self since becoming a mother?
  • Do you feel selfish when you do things or take time for yourself?
  • Rank the following in order of importance: You, Your Relationship, Your Children. What do you think your answer says about how much or how little you nurture yourself?
  • Ask yourself how the person you are today differs from the person you were before you had kids.
  • What steps do you take to nurture yourself?

Discussing HOW TO SAY NO:

  • Ask yourself this question: Do you have a hard time saying no?
  • If so, why do you think that is? Many of the moms we talked to felt that when they said “no” to something, they weren’t living up to their idea of what a good mother is. They felt they were failing to “do it all.”
  • What are some ways to say “no” and feel good about it?


  • Some of the women we spoke with feel an overwhelming pressure to constantly ‘be in the moment’ with their kids. Do you struggle with that?
  • Do you find that you’re too busy “being” a mom to enjoy time with your children?
  • Many moms told us that when they find one or two small moments in their day to truly connect with their kids, whether it’s helping them learn to tie their shoes, or sing a song, that those moments really count. Are you able to recognize those moments with your kids?
  • How you find ways to live in the moment with your kids?


  • What’s your dirty little secret of motherhood? One mom told us she would trade her husband for a housekeeper, and another mom confessed that she lets her daughter watch “Access Hollywood” with her.
  • What are some of the things you do that you wouldn’t normally share with other moms?

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