As I was scrolling aimlessly through my Instagram… somewhere between drooling over pictures of pancakes and making fitness promises to myself that I will never keep… I came across a video from my lifelong celebrity crush, Hilary Duff (whatever, don’t judge me..). ANYWAY, Hilz was sick in bed and had posted a video talking about how guilty she felt about being stuck, resting-up instead of taking care of her new baby.
Well, well, well, welcome to Mum Guilt miss Duff, you’re in broad (and attractive) company.
If you’re a mum, celebrity or not – it’s pretty likely you’ve fallen prey to this feeling of subservience also known as Mum Guilt.
Whether it stems from not spending time with your kids because you’re back at work, or feeling inadequate because (unlike the other mums on Instagram *eye roll*), the mushed banana and carrot blend you've attempted to feed your child spends more time being thrown at the wall than actually nourishing their body… A less-than-desirable consequence of this content-driven culture were in, is that we often find ourselves feeling like we’re not doing a good enough job at this whole parenting thing.
I get it! Bringing up civilized, well-adjusted, not psychopathic humans is a HIGH STAKES JOB! But the guilt your feeling is not helping anyone, so let’s start by looking this monster right in the eye…
What exactly is mum guilt?
Mum guilt is a psychological response to the societal pressure placed on mums and the resultant pressure mums place on themselves (and dads too, equality in the guilt department for all!). It is particularly common in working mums who tend to feel guilty for leaving their child while they’re at work.
The “should I’s?” and “shouldn’t I’s?” and shame of behaviour can manifest in your mind as negative thoughts about your parenting capabilities. It can also make you feel depressed or anxious, and in more severe cases, trigger addictive behaviours such as drinking or drug use as a means to cope. (If this is you, please reach out to a support service such as Better Health Helpline on 1800 888 236).
Tips for getting past mum guilt
EMBRACE THE GUILT (just a little) – Controversial, I know! But hear me out.
Guilt (in small doses) is what makes you a great parent and shows how much CARE. So instead of fighting it, embrace it (a little) and then accept that you aren’t perfect. No mum, in the history of mums is (Beyoncé included). And just think, you’d probably end up with a pretty characterless kid if they never had to go through anything.
EVERYBODY makes mistakes and the world keeps-a-spinnin’. Remember, you make decisions for a reason. Focus on the things that you know make you an amazing mum and practice ignoring the negative self-talk. Trust that you know what you’re doing and that you’re doing a great job because YOU ARE!
Change your thought process
Rather than feeling guilty because you can’t be with your child at all times, observe how much this makes you appreciate the time when you ARE.
If you’re feeling guilty about heading back to work, think of the example that you’re setting. You’re giving your child a strong, capable, independent role model to look up to (lucky them!)
While being a mum may be the best part of who you are, it isn’t ALL that you are. That’s what MAKES you a great mum!
Take care of yourself
Remember our talk about love cups? – You’ll find that investing in yourself and your mental and physical well being will positively impact what you’re able to give to you family. Think of it like the oxygen mask protocol on a plane. “Should the cabin lose pressure, make sure to secure your own mask before assisting others with theirs”. If you can’t breathe, how can you help anyone else?
Read my cyber lips: TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF DOES NOT MAKE YOU SELFISH OR A BAD MOTHER. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Ask for help
Odds are your baby is pretty darn cute, and your friends and family would only be too delighted to spend some quality time with your little rugrat. Don’t be afraid to ask. It’s also great for your kids’ development to be exposed to different people and new situations.
Remember: THIS TOO SHALL PASS
However you’re feeling now, don’t give it too much power, it’s just a feeling. It won’t last forever. Circumstances change, children grow up and all’s well that ends well.
It’s impossible to be there for every moment of your child’s life. Rather than feeling guilty, focus on the positives and on being a happy, healthy and a well-rounded mum.
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By Jodi Lee, 2019