If you are a parent you will more than likely be familiar with the term ‘mum guilt’. As well as all the sleep deprivation, baby brain and the complete change of lifestyle we all experience when we have a child, us mums also get this positivity and self confidence sucking side effect of bringing a child into the world called mum guilt. This negative mindset sneaks in, loud and unwelcome, during your pregnancy, a time in a woman’s life that is often also full of some degree of anxiety, stress and worry. As your baby is happily cooking away in utero, a hard job for us mamas as it is, thoughts covered in guilt can begin to creep around our already hormone riddled brains. There’s a whole list of things that have the ability to make a pregnant woman feel like a rubbish mum before her baby has even been born: the food she is or isn’t eating, the amount of alcohol she does or doesn’t drink, the pregnancy yoga classes she’s not going to and the choices she makes on things like feeding, sleeping and what kind of nappies she’s going to use when her baby arrives.
Once baby finally does show up, feelings of mum guilt tend to ramp up a notch and we can be left feeling guilty about almost every parenting decision we make. The thing we all need to remember is, mum guilt isn’t speaking the truth – we are not bad mums, we are amazing mums trying our absolute best every day. Mum guilt is the manifestation of our completely unachievable desire to be the ‘perfect mum’, mixed with any self confidence issues we are already experiencing in regard to our parenting abilities. I have been a mum now for almost four and a half years and I have wasted too much of that time feeling guilty and questioning the things i do and don’t do for my sons. Recently I have decided to have much more of a positive mental attitude, I want to think this way about all aspects of my life but, mostly, I want to be a more positive parent and that isn’t going to happen if I keep listening to the judgmental, hurtful voice of mum guilt. To help quash these pointless yet damaging thoughts I am spending more time focusing on all the things I actually do for my kids instead of dwelling on the things I don’t and it is really working to feed my positive mindset.
Shutting up the mum guilt
If you are a parent who too has lived under the reign of evil mum guilt for far too long, I am telling you right now it doesn’t need to be this way. Here is what you need to do, are you listening? Sit down and write a list titled ‘All the things I feel guilty about’, if you are anything like me it is going to be a lengthy list so make sure you have enough paper handy. Now, once you have done that, go back to your title ‘All the thing’s I feel guilty about’, scribble it out and write ‘All the thing’s I don’t need to feel guilty about’ in big, bold letters and underline the ‘don’t’ atleast three times. My health visitor once told me, when I was battling with post natal depression, that the fact that I was spending so much time worrying over these things only served as proof that I was in fact a great mum, not the rubbish one I thought. We only feel guilty because we want to be the best possible parent we can be for our kids and we just care about them SO damn much. All the things you feel guilty about, I can almost guarantee you don’t need to be worrying about them as much if even at all. Us mums worry about little things so much because we are trying to be that ‘perfect mum’ I mentioned earlier, the one who does not exist. Chances are, you are feeling guilty because you are doing some of the things you said you would NEVER do when you had kids, back when you were living a life sans baby and had not a single clue what raising a child is really like. No parent is perfect and sometimes we all do what we do to just make it through the day, and that is more than ok!
So, are you ready to take back control and help shut up that stupid mum guilt once and fall? Grab your notebook and your paper and write out your list, you may think it is counterproductive writing down all those things you are feeling guilty about but now that you, hopefully, understand that you don’t need to beat yourself up about them at all because you are simply a mum doing her BEST for the children that she LOVES, you can look at this list and see with fresh eyes that they aren’t actually worth your mental energy worrying over. I always like to practice what I preach, so here is my list of all the things I don’t need to feel guilty about..
All the things I don’t need to feel guilty about..
– Giving Alex a dummy
– Letting Leo watch TV in the morning
– Giving Alex something else to eat for lunch when he chucks my first attempt of a healthy balanced meal on the floor
– Letting Leo drink squash instead of water
– Checking emails on my phone instead of building yet another tower of bricks for Alex to knock down
– Telling Leo off when he’s been naughty
– Giving the kids a piece of fruit and then going and hiding in the kitchen so I can eat biscuits without having to share them
– Having a movie day on the sofa instead of taking the kids to the park
– Letting Leo play on his tablet while I get on with housework
– Not taking Alex to soft play/swimming as much as I think I should
– Not having the time and energy to do as much with Alex as I did with Leo when he was a toddler
– Getting post natal depression
– Not loving playing imagination games with Leo and finding playtime in general a bit boring
– Leo refusing to try new foods
– Alex refusing to try new foods
– Only going to the baby groups I like instead of taking Alex to them all
– Leaving Alex nap for half hour longer than he should so I can get blogging work done or just have some chill time
– Not remembering how old Alex was when he got his first tooth
– Not having half as many pictures of Alex printed as we do of Leo
– Spending approximately £3 a week on myself so I can grab a coffee before I take Alex to rhyme time
– Picking a kids film that I can actually tolerate instead of watching the rubbish one Leo wants when we spend a Saturday morning watching a film together
– Feeling pissed off when the baby wakes up for hours in the night
– Feeling frustrated at Leo when he doesn’t do as he is told
– Not taking the boys off to do big expensive days out every weekend
– All of Alex’s clothes being hand me downs
– Arriving 5 minutes late to pick Leo up from school because I could’t find a parking space
– Alex having to use the pram we have had for almost five years that is only just clinging on to life
– Letting Leo watch YouTube on my phone when we are out and I need him to be quiet for 10 minutes
– Sometimes skipping pages in stories when I have to read them ten times in a row
– Saying no to Leo when he asks for the impossible
– Not always knowing what it is Alex wants or needs when he is crying
– Not making many school mum friends so I have no one to arrange play dates with for Leo
– Craving child free time sometimes
– Not having enough money to buy them all the toys they want
and most importantly
– wasting precious time with them feeling guilty instead of just living in the moment with them.
I told you it was a long list! I am trying my absolute best to stop feeling guilty about all of this stuff, a lot of which is really insignificant and unimportant, in the grand scheme of things. I love my boys and I know they love me too. They don’t love that perfect mum I’ve imagined, they don’t love SuperMum, they love ME. All these things I have been worrying about, my kids more than likely couldn’t give a crap about. My boys prefer me when I am happy, I prefer me when I am happy. I finally understand that if I am to be really happy as a parent, I need to turn the volume down on that negative voice in my head, take a look at my kids smiling faces and realise that, actually, I am doing a pretty amazing job. I am raising tiny humans, and I may not be perfect but I am their loving mum and, to them, that’s all they really need.
Do you suffer from a horrible inner voice and mum guilt? Do you feel guilty about any of the same things as me? Why don’t you try writing them all down, hopefully it will help you see that you need to stop beating yourself up and instead focus on all the amazing things you are doing every single day for your family.
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