In many ways, social media has made pregnancy, birth and the first few years of your child’s life a much more engaging experience for mums. After all, you can stay connected with friends and family throughout the journey, follow other inspirational mums on Instagram, and document your baby’s life from that initial scan right through to their first steps and beyond.
But social media also has a dark side. It’s easy to get caught up in the race to be perfect, and feelings of ‘mum guilt’ can quickly creep up on us. The good news is you already have the tools in your arsenal to beat the guilt and get back to living your best life.
Everyone has feelings of ‘mum guilt’ at some point in their journey
If you’re a mum – or about to become one – it’s pretty likely you’ve already fallen prey to this awful feeling. Whether it stems from not spending time with your kids because you’re back at work, or feeling inadequate because (unlike those 'picture-perfect mums on Instagram), most of that mashed-banana-and-carrot meal is splattered on the floor instead of nourishing your baby’s belly.
One of the least-desirable consequences of our content-driven culture is that we often feel like we’re not doing a good enough job at being parents. It’s a completely understandable – and common – feeling, but that doesn’t mean it’s rational. In fact, the guilt you’re feeling is doing you and your bub more harm than good. So what can you do about it?
Get to grips with exactly what ‘mum guilt’ means
Mum guilt is a psychological response to the pressures that society places on mums and the resulting pressures that mums place on themselves, especially for working mums who are away from their children for extended periods. Dad guilt is incredibly common too, and it could be something both partners are experiencing at the same time but are too afraid to talk about.
Left untreated, this guilt can manifest in a variety of much more serious issues, such as anxiety, depression and negative coping mechanisms like drinking and drug use. If you’re worried that mum guilt is affecting other parts of your life, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
Use these tips to beat mum guilt for good
- Guilt isn’t always a bad thing: In small doses, guilt can reveal exactly what makes you a great parent. How? By showing how much you care. So instead of always fighting the guilt, accept that it’s a normal feeling and that, despite your best efforts, you aren’t always perfect.
- Trust yourself: You’ve spent decades making choices that have led you to this exact moment. And that little bundle of joy? That was something you created, so trust that you have the ability to make good decisions. Focus on what makes you an amazing mum and ignore the negative self-talk (this may take a bit of practice!).
- Change your perspective: Accept that you can’t be all things to everybody. That means rather than feeling guilty because you can’t be with your child at all times, start to really appreciate the time when you are together. If you’re feeling guilty about working, think of the example that you’re setting for your child. They see you as a strong, capable and independent role model to look up to. And most importantly, remember that while being a mum may be the best part of who you are, it isn’t all that you are.
- Take care of yourself: Just like babies have love cups, so do you. Investing in your mental and physical wellbeing will positively impact what you’re able to give back to your family. After all, if you can’t love yourself, how can you truly love anyone else? The most important takeaway is this: looking after yourself doesn’t make you selfish or a bad mother – quite the opposite.
- Ask for help: Your baby might be the most intelligent, adorable and well-mannered kid in the whole world, but that doesn’t mean they won’t drive you crazy from time to time. The good news is your friends and family would probably be delighted to spend some quality time with them. So whenever you’re feeling a little deflated or run off your feet, reach out to your support network. It’s not only great for your mental health, but it will also expose your child to different people and new situations.
Not even the biggest mumfluencers on Instagram are perfect, and they’re certainly not around for every waking moment of their child’s life. So rather than feeling guilty, focus on what’s most important: being a happy, healthy and well-rounded mum who’s a positive role model for your child.
While you’re focusing on self-love, you can also make your parenting life a bit easier with some handy products – whether you’re expressing with the GoMini Double Electric Breast Pump, breastfeeding, or teaching your little one about good dental hygiene.