Being a mum is the best thing in the world but it does introduce a whole new world of emotions and one that we will all find too familiar is guilt.
Yes, the feeling of guilt affects everyone at some point in their lives, yet mum guilt in particular can be an overwhelming feeling.
Mum guilt introduces itself during pregnancy and can cause mums to be to worry about what they eat, worry about pregnancy exercises or lack of and how they will be perceived if they do not attend any pre natal classes!
This feeling of guilt tends to increase once baby arrives and let’s face it, it’s here to stay. Here are just a few of the mum guilt triggers that I am sure most us of us can relate to…
• The well known term of Breast is Best immediately will make you have mum guilt if you choose not to breastfeed or are unable to breastfeed.
A term that I love is Fed is Best. Instead of debating what way is best to feed your child we should encourage every mum that whatever way they feed their baby is best.
• Taking time for yourself. As mums we can all remember that feeling of leaving your child for the first time. Mum guilt kicks in and we feel guilty for wanting time to ourselves. Enjoying leisurely time without the feeling of guilt seems a thing of the past.
But please be reassured that time for yourself is important for you and your child. Being a mum is hard work and you can easily forget to look after yourself and feel overwhelmed.
But when you stop caring for yourself it affects your ability to care for your child and enjoy motherhood. You are an example to your children, so set a good example that self care is important and don’t feel guilty about doing that exercise class, meeting friends for dinner or going away with your partner.
• The working mum vs the stay at home mum debate. Any working mum will know the feeling of mum guilt as she returns to work from maternity leave. I am still surprised that in today’s society there still seems to be this debate about what is best for your child. Working mums often face judgment and I have heard people say “Don’t have children, if you can’t look after them” or “working mums are part time mums”. To me, this is cruel and judgmental and intensifies the feeling of mummy guilt when it is not needed.
I am a firm believer that both options have so many positives and we all have a common goal to have a happy and healthy family. So, whether you are a stay at home mum or a working mum whatever is best for you is best for your child.
• We have all felt the mum guilt when the house is clean and tidy which has resulted in not being 100% with your child and missing out on playtime.
I am a firm believer and had to accept that my home is not going to be the same as before I had a child and this is OK. When you have a toddler tornado it can be impossible to keep up to the standards you once had. And some days I feel it’s totally fine for the house to be a bit messy and leave the washing up to be able to have precious time with my son and make memories.
But, let’s face it chores still need to be done in order for your home to be clean and habitable! And that will mean taking some time out to be able to do this and that’s OK too!
Mum guilt can be overwhelming and will often make us feel like we are not doing a good job. But the way I see it, mum guilt is reassuring us that we are in fact doing a good job.
If I never experience mum guilt then I have either achieved perfection (never going to happen!) or I don’t care anymore (never going to happen!).
But what we don’t want is for mum guilt to become too overwhelming to the point that we never feel good enough. Here are some coping strategies to help remind you that you are a great mum:
• Accept being imperfectly perfect; Not only will this lower expectations that are too high or unachievable it will teach your children that we are born to be real not perfect.
• Don’t compare yourself; Social media plays a huge part in why we compare ourselves to other mums. But remember, what you see on social media is often not a true reflection. Your best is good enough so there is no need to compare.
• Positivity; Focus on the positives regularly and remind yourself of what you do well. You could even ask your family… there answers may surprise you!
• Don’t sweat the small stuff; We can be are own worse critics, so always think about what you would say to a friend and make sure you are kind to yourself. You deserve nothing less.
And finally, please remember “there will be many times that you will feel that you have failed. But in the eyes of your child, you are super mum”.