I experience the feeling of ‘mum guilt’ throughout each and every day. Am I on my phone too much and not giving them enough attention? Am I giving them too much sugar? Are they having too much screen time? Are they eating a varied diet? Are we active enough? I shouldn’t have shouted at them. Or left them alone for 2 minutes.
Or other parenting decisions -did I leave them to cry too long? Am I being a good example of our families values or faith? Should I have not gone back to work and left someone else to look after them? … I could go on. That is a lot of possible guilt right there!
I often wonder if this pressure is coming from me, and what I think is best for my kids, or whether it’s from an external judging panel of perfect mothers who I’ve made up in my head? And it’s probably a mixture of the two. Either way, that feeling looms over me.
At the moment the biggest thing I feel guilty about is that I’m ignoring Noah whilst I play with Sienna, and then that I’m getting cross with Sienna when I’m trying to get Noah to sleep. It feels like I’m not meeting either of their needs and failing to give them both the attention they crave and I’d like to give. I am also feeling guilty that I reeeeally want some time to myself – just one day without having to feed someone else, wipe a bum other than my own, rock a heavy baby in my arms or negotiate with a small but rather clever 3 year old. I feel guilty that wanting that makes me a bad mum.
On the other hand, guilty feelings can help me change things for the better. Maybe I increase their fruit intake, or am more intentional about putting my phone down and giving them my attention. Not that I want to do those things out of guilt – I obviously want what’s best for my kids. However what’s best for my kids isn’t always that easy to follow through. They resist healthy food, they plead for more screen time, they have major tantrums and do things where you really have no option but to get a bit cross. And sometimes you just need to do whatever it takes to get out the house or avoid a tantrum for your own sanity. But I’m learning that that is ok and to over-ride the ‘mum guilt’ and give myself some grace.
Here are the things I am trying to remind myself:
– It’s actually nearly impossible to meet the needs of both of my children at the same time.
– It really won’t effect them long term if I forget to brush their teeth that day or if they watch one more episode so I can get the washing-up done
– I am important too. It’s ok if im craving some ‘me’ time – even if that’s just going on my phone for a bit or eating a chocolate bar behind a cupboard door. They need to know the world doesn’t just evolve around them.
-I am not the only one who has no idea what they are doing. No one has written a handbook specifically for my children and circumstance, we are all learning as we go.
– Tomorrow is a new day. If I lose my cool, I can say sorry, make an effort to talk things through and start again tomorrow. I’m going to mess up a bit here and there, but bad moments don’t make bad mums. I’m not going to let the guilt follow me. Kids forgive us more easily than we forgive ourselves. The bottom line is, my kids really are loved.
I know I’m not the only one who experiences ‘mum guilt’. So if you are too, and you’re giving yourself a hard time, firstly the the fact that you’re even feeling a little bit of guilt probably means you have the best intentions for your kids. Secondly, take the pressure off and know it’s ok to take the easier options sometimes. We’re giving our everything into being a mum; blood, sweat, tears and all, so I think it’s ok if once in a while if we give ourselves a break and maybe even occasionally put ourselves first. It’s actually essential for us if we’re gonna be good at this job-as the saying goes – ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’.
So here’s what I’ve got to say to you – invisible panel of judging mums that follow me everywhere- I AM A GOOD MUM! The End.