Farewell Mummy Guilt!
Thirteen years after holding baby number one for the very first time, I still vividly recall those early emotions. Looking into her eyes, that rush of love, the strength of which I had never felt before, closely followed by that feeling of oh $#%* - I am responsible for this tiny creature for the rest of her life. That sense of responsibility weighed heavily.
The years with our babies are filled with intense love, laughter, frustration and tears. I was expecting that. What I hadn’t expected was
the well-meaning, yet conflicting advice
the MUMMY GUILT
Over the years I’ve seen that mummy guilt is a more common affliction than I first realised – and one felt by working and stay at home mums alike!
While other peoples’ judgemental comments contribute to the guilt, often we’re our own worst enemies by comparing ourselves to others, which is so detrimental to our own sense of well-being? As one clever person once pointed out to me, there is really no comparison - we are busy comparing our insides to someone else’s outside!
So, for those struggling, join me to bid farewell to the mummy guilt in just 3 steps.
Step One – Let go of the comparisons.
We don’t know what other people’s lives are like and what they are dealing with. An at-home mum would like to work but she has a child who is struggling right now and she needs to be available for all those days of school refusal. A working mum desperately wants to be at home full-time but economic realities don’t allow for that. Another mum struggled with a loss of identity when she left her career and her work gives her what she needs to then be the best mum she can be.
These few examples are just a tiny picture of individual circumstances and decisions. Ours is not to compare, but to accept that each of us is doing what is right for ourselves and our family. Time to raise each other up, drop the comparisons and move on to…
Step Two – Consciously design your reality.
Think about what you and your family need to thrive and how you will make this happen. Consider your boundaries, your values and your beliefs and then hold fast to these, don’t let life or “judgers” cause you to lose focus of the things that matter.
To give you an example:
My husband works away a lot and our family need me to have a job that provides the flexibility to work during school hours while making my heart sing. At this stage in our girls lives, I have decided that I will not work full-time as it would not work for my brain (I can get quite discombobulated) or for my children and their needs right now – as a family we recognise that this has an economic impact and we do our best to make it work.
For me, work is important, it gives me a sense of identity separate from “mother”, my girls see what I do and they speak with pride about their mum.
My house is constantly messy, and, while I don’t love that, I also recognise that if something needs to be compromised, an orderly house is it. My priority is laughing with and enjoying my girls while we all chill out from our busy days.
So – that is my reality and I work hard to keep these boundaries. Clients know that I don’t take calls in the evenings, on the occasions I’ve been offered full-time gigs I’ve turned them down (no matter how good they sounded), and people know to expect a messy house when they visit.
Criticism or my need to “people please” will not change these priorities, and it works for us.
Now it’s your turn – design your reality, write it down somewhere if that helps, and, without apology, maintain those boundaries.
Step Three – gentle self-talk!
While you’re bedding in steps one and two, there’ll be a fair bit of self-talk going on. Chat away, remind yourself of the “raise each other up” mantra and your family boundaries. There’ll be times that you’ll say “yes” to something, only to walk away and realise it compromises your needs. When this occurs, don’t be afraid to change your mind and say “no”. By listening to your gentle self-talk you will do what is right for you, you won’t let your world be dictated to by others and the mummy guilt will gradually subside.
And remember, not one of us will get this parenting gig perfect – perfection is unrealistic.
Speak kindly to yourself, let yourself and your kids know when you make a mistake (that will help develop their own ability to learn from mistakes, so you’re actually doing them a favour by stuffing up every now and then 😊) .
Above all, be gentle to yourself.