Most of us experience "mum guilt" daily. But if you’re a mum-to-be or are lucky enough not to have encountered it, here’s a brief explanation.
Mum guilt is basically the feeling that however hard you try to be a good parent, you always feel like you’re not good enough. It doesn’t matter how amazing your parenting skills are because you’ll always find someone that does it better (or claims to). While we know deep down that our kids love us exactly as we are, there is always the worry that we could do better.
While I certainly don’t have all the answers, here are some things that have helped me:
Putting A Positive Spin On Things
There's a theory doing the rounds at the moment (bizarrely I think I actually saw it on Khloe Kardashian’s Instagram first) that encourages you to change the phrase "I have to" to "I get to". It’s very helpful for putting a positive spin on your day but actually, it can be just as useful when you apply it to your kids. So instead of "my child has to go to creche" you change it to "my child gets to go to creche" and think of all the benefits they have as a result. Of course, you can also apply this to the phrase "my child has to stay at home with me" and change it to "my child gets to stay at home with me". Think of all the positives about that sentence.
I have gone through stages of my kids being full time in creche and full time at home and I don’t think either is better. Of course, I’ve felt guilty in both scenarios but have had to remind myself that we’ve made the decision based on what worked best for our family at different times.
Remember Everyone’s Situation Is Different
I love watching Instagram Stories as much as anyone else and I enjoy seeing what people are up to and picking up great tips. However, as much as I try, I can’t help comparing what we’re doing to what everyone else is doing. I remember going through a phase pre-lockdown of feeling guilty that we didn’t go to the beach more, as it seemed like "everyone" I was following went all the time. It seems completely irrational now but at the time I was convinced we should be going every week.
However, when I stepped back to look at the "evidence", I realised it was only three people that I was following and that all of them lived a stone’s throw from the coast. That’s hardly a case of comparing like with like when we live 50km from a seafront. It was definitely a lesson learned about taking a step back to see if you’re making yourself feel guilty about something you can’t control.
You Don’t Have To Do Things By The Book
As a first-time mum, I did a lot of reading before and after the birth about everything that was involved in looking after a baby. I wanted to make sure that I did everything correctly. The problem was that not everything they prescribed suited me or my baby and I was stressing myself out trying to make everything work. Although there is a six-year age gap between my children (so I effectively felt like I’d forgotten everything), I didn’t do any "reading up" the second time. I was much more laid back and looked for cues instead of watching the clock. This suited us so much better. Although it’s definitely good to be prepared, this time I didn’t feel racked with said mum guilt that I wasn’t doing things right.
Making Time For Yourself
From the minute your child is born, you decide you’ll do whatever you can to keep them healthy and happy. That equates to always putting them first. The problem is that if you always put them first you don’t make time for yourself and will burn out. It’s important that you take breaks just like you would in any other job. It’s great that LinkedIn has added "stay-at-home mum" as a job title because that’s exactly what it is – a job.
Although it can be difficult to schedule "me time" into your day, don’t feel guilty if you get an opportunity. Don’t forget that it’s illegal for employers to prevent employees from taking a break. So if you feel bad for putting your feet up and having a cup of tea and a biscuit when you get a chance - don’t. It’s basically the law!