Being a mum is really hard. It’s not easy to juggle family life, working, running a house and making sure everyone has what they need each day. This creates feelings of guilt that most mums feel. Chatting to friends and colleagues, I really think that guilt is one thing that is a common feeling amongst us. Why is this and what can we do about it?
As soon as our children are born, we try to be perfect for them. We try to create a safe and secure life where they can flourish and grow. But in trying to create this for our children we ask the natural question; are we good enough? Are we doing it properly? Can we do better? These feelings of inadequacy are a natural consequence of starting a new job; the new job of being a parent. Until you are a parent, how can you know what to do? No one or no job prepares you for the relentlessness and worry that parenting brings. Add the sheer exhaustion of having a new baby or only having one pair of hands and those feelings magnify and multiply.
Seeking perfection can create both stress and worry and with this, the inevitable, guilt. We feel guilty for feeling cross or inadequate. You may feel guilty for not breastfeeding for longer. Do you feel guilty for having to go to work? The list is never ending.
What can we do about mum guilt?
Here are my 5 Top Tips:
1. Embrace your guilt!
It’s totally normal to feel our different emotions such as feeling anger so why is feeling guilty any different? It’s ok to feel angry, happy, sad and guilty! Acknowledge how you are feeling so that you can try to make small changes in your life.
2. Do not feed your guilt!
When we take a break from our children and we are ‘ignoring’ them. These thoughts immediately make us feel like we are not doing our job of parenting properly. This is not true! Children need to see that their mum is a person and with that, has feelings too. Having a rest or break is an essential part of any job. Parenting is no different so feel proud of what you do each day, don’t feed your guilty feelings.
3. Empower your guilt!
Empowering ourselves as parents is a tool that could make a difference between feeling terrible about what we are doing to feeling good about what we are doing. Don’t compare yourself to other parents! There will always be other parents who seem to be doing a perfect job. I bet they’re not! Empower yourself by accepting that things cannot be perfect all the time. Who cares if your toddler is wearing the Spider-Man costume to bed! Who cares if your child has odd socks! You managed to get them to school/the park/swimming today. You managed to feed them vegetables today. Small steps empower us as parents so think about the positives rather than what went wrong.
4. Give away your guilt!
Sharing parenting is actually a gift we can give to our children. The expression, ‘It takes a village’ is true. It takes lots of different people to raise a child. If you are feeling guilty, talk to someone or ask for help. It doesn’t mean you are failing as a parent! It is good for children to have relationships with grandparents, other family members or friends. Making connections with other people gives children a well-rounded reflection of how to make relationships. It can also be a chance for you to replenish your energy levels.
5. Banish your guilt!
Who will look after your child if you can’t? Who will be there for your child if you can’t cope or are feeling overwhelmed? It’s time to banish your guilt about being inadequate. You are perfect as the parent you are. You can only do your best. Banish your guilt so that you have room for other emotions such as joy, surprise and pride. Parenting is hard work but it should also be a pleasure. The parenting of small children is over so quickly in the scheme of life so stop feeling guilty and start enjoying each moment! Even the hard moments will pass, I promise!
Look, a button code made by Heather Keet!
A blog about my life in The Old House, a mum to teenagers, a primary school teacher and my passion for gardening.