One thing I love about women is when we get together and are honest with each other and no competition, there is so much learning and enlightening that happens. I personally cannot be around people that I can’t share my highs and also the lows of things that happen. I find it very superficial. Women that constantly try and make everything seem perfect are not my cup of tea. I don’t know maybe it’s because I like to share my thoughts and feelings. I’m a sharer. Hence why this blog does me so well. It’s my little corner of the internet where I can share my thoughts on whatever.
I was sitting talking to a friend the other day and the topic of ‘mummy guilt’ came up. Our regrets or things we would change about our journey in motherhood. The problem is that society and stereotypes that people have can make you feel that you are not good enough as a mother or in other words a crappy mum, no matter how hard you try. This is ‘mummy guilt’.
Stay at home mums are judged for ‘being lazy for not working’, working mums are judged for ‘not wanting to spend time with their child’, young mums are judged for ‘being too irresponsible or immature to handle a child’, single parent mums are judged for…’just being single and potentially raising deadbeat kids’, mums with additional help are judged for ‘not being woman enough to look after your own child by yourself’. If we are honest with ourselves we may have thought these things at some point in our lives.
Mummy guilt can be the worst! Motherhood is one of the best however most challenging experiences that one can experience. You constantly doubt yourself if you are doing the right thing by your child. There is no right or wrong answer, well there’s obviously the ‘really’ wrong such as neglect, but you can understand what I am saying. I am all too familiar with mummy guilt. I had to go back to work due to financial reasons when my daughter was 4 months old, cue the massive wave of mummy guilt. To the point where it was debilitating and overwhelming. I felt like I couldn’t connect with my daughter because I thought she was better off without me. It got worse when she called her nanny ‘mummy’ and would go to her nanny anytime she was upset. That broke my heart…literally!
How to handle mummy guilt:
Recognise that no mother is perfect and stop comparing yourself to others.
The worst thing about mummy guilt is that you could be doing something necessary for your wellness or your family but it doesn’t stop the guilt. What causes this guilt? Comparing ourselves. We see another mum ‘doing better’, you know handling her toddler better, while yours is having a complete breakdown. You see another mum working full time, with children, looking great and seemingly handling everything, while you as a stay at home mum are completely overwhelmed with your kids and find it difficult to even have a moment to yourself.
If you are constantly comparing yourself to someone else, you set yourself up for guilt, disappointment and feeling of failure. Motherhood is not an exact science. Everyone is doing their best.
If you see a mother handling something well, which you have been stressing over, why not see it as an opportunity to learn. It is not a competition on how to raise the best child.
You know what I do nowadays, if I see a mother handling something that I am stressing over, I am right there with my notepad and pen saying ‘teach me please!’. I try not to let comparison steal the opportunity for me to learn something new, because we are all learning. I remember my daughter’s former childminder, whose daughter was fully dry morning and night at two and a half! Yup, no nappies at all! I was amazed! Now in this situation, I could let my mummy guilt get in the way, and start feeling like a crap mum, because my daughter was still in nappies full time and she was older than this little girl. I was struggling to make sense of this potty training stuff.
But you know what? I asked the childminder to help me out. I told her to tell me how she did it, and she did. As a result, in less than 3 weeks my daughter was dry during the morning and night, and was using the toilet/potty without being prompted. I learnt from this woman where I was going wrong, and how to make the process more enjoyable for her. We are not in competition with each other. Let us help each other. There is a way to give good advice without sounding like that judgemental mum.
Stop allowing mummy guilt to cloud your vision and to stop you from enjoying motherhood.
Fine, there will be frustrations and challenges. But if you just decide to be the best mother you can be, your child will love you for it. Sometimes mummy guilt gets in the way of enjoying the true essence of motherhood. You know watching your child grow into their own person with their own personality. Enjoying the moments you spend with your child, because these kids grow super fast, and you will regret not enjoying these moments.
You are not superwoman! You make mistakes!
I feel like this needs to be drummed in our heads, we are not superwomen. Some of us are juggling so many things, that when one ball drops we allow ‘mummy guilt’ to get the better of us. That parent’s evening that you missed because you had a conflicting appointment, will not cause your child to grow up to be a mass murderer! Haha! Cut yourself some slack once in a while, you are human. You were so sleep deprived that you shouted at your toddler, who is going through ‘terrible twos’, apologise and move on. Do not wallow in self-pity.
You need to spend time on yourself
A happy and healthy (mentally, physically and emotionally) is the best mum for her kids. You need to take a break. Whether it is once a week or once a month, you do something that makes you feel like you. It could be something as simple as getting your nails/hair done, or a spa weekend away with your partner or friends. Whatever makes you a better ‘you’. We spend so much time obsessing over our kids, if they are happy, worrying about their future, or whether we are doing the right thing, that we forget about ourselves. I will keep on saying a happy and healthy mother is better than an overwhelmed, stressed out, unhappy mother.
Talk about it.
Finally talk about it. I love a good chat, sometimes a vent about motherhood. It is healthy. I personally believe that keeping your feelings bottled up inside is not healthy for you or your mind.