Before you became a mum, you probably felt guilt in small doses. For instance, you will sometimes wonder if you should be spending more time with your parents or if you should put in more effort in the office.
However, once motherhood is upon you, guilt is like a dark cloud that never stops following you. It starts from the moment you push that baby out and never ever ends. Not only do you feel inadequate about almost everything you do, you start inner battles with yourself that often sound like the following…
“Maybe I don’t spend enough time playing with junior…”
“My house is a mess, I should have cleaned it when the baby was napping instead of resting.”
Raising a child is a huge responsibility and not a job one takes lightly. So, there’s nothing wrong if you’re uncertain as to whether you’re doing the right thing for your children. Sometimes, it’s good to question your parenting decisions, which means that you’re more aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a parent.
However, if you feel guilty over everything and it consumes you to the point where you stop enjoying motherhood, then it’s time to reconsider what’s important to you. Raising kids can become a lifelong exercise of never measuring up – but only if you allow it.
Use these six strategies to silence the guilt whenever it rears its ugly head. And on the days when you feel like you’re failing as a parent, just remember that no child has been harmed from living in a house filled with love and joy. Because, ultimately that’s all they need to thrive.
Don’t dilute your presence when you’re with the kids with distractions, such as your mobile phone or the television.
#1 Accept that sacrifices have to be made
Whether you’re returning to work or decided to put your career on hold to be home with bub, there will always be trade-offs. As a working mum, you’ll feel bad that you won’t be able to attend every single one of junior’s soccer practices or that yes, sadly, you might just miss your baby’s first steps. As a stay-at-home mum, you get to relish every single moment of your child’s growth, but you might be feeling out of touch with the real world. This will spark off feelings of guilt because you know most working mums would kill to be in your position. The simplest way to stave off such guilt is to remind yourself why you made that choice in the first place. If you’re working, you’re giving your children a financially-secure upbringing and you also come home feeling accomplished because you have a rewarding career. If that means you won’t be able to make it for certain school events, then so be it. You will find a way to make up for it. If you’re at home, you know you’re doing what’s best for your young ones right now. You can always rejoin the workforce, or maybe even start your own business when they are more independent.
#2 Spend quality time with the family
Ever heard of the “being there, but not really being there” syndrome? It happens in many families where parents think they are spending time with their children by just sitting in the same room as them, but not paying attention to them. Don’t dilute your presence with distractions when you’re with the kids, such as by using your mobile phone. As clichéd as it soundx, it’s not about how much time you spend with your kids, but how well you spend whatever time you have with each other. Only have two hours as a family on weekdays before the kids’ bedtime? Switch off the television and sit down together as a family for dinner, so you can talk. Don’t wait till the weekend to eat out, surprise junior with a trip to her favourite restaurant on a random weekday night. When the weekend comes around make sure you have something exciting planned, so you can make full use of those precious 48 hours to bond with your brood.
#3 Learn to laugh at your flubs
It’s amazing how far a good sense of humour will take you in life. Nothing’s better than a good chuckle to diffuse a tension-filled moment. Did you end up feeding the kids leftover cupcakes for dinner because you left the office late? Don’t beat yourself about it ― instead, snap a picture of those cute chocolate-covered faces and Instagram it. Own your flaws with pride, mummy! You’ll be surprised at how many other mums are going to “like” that picture and admit they have also been in the same shoes as you. Who cares if you get a few trolls chiding you for feeding your children junk ― nobody is perfect, not even the ones who pretend they are!
#4 Book yourself in for some “me” time
If you’re thinking this should be the last thing on the list for a mum who’s already struggling with guilt for not being a good-enough parent ― you couldn’t be more wrong. When guilt starts becoming all-consuming, to the point that it affects your relationship with your husband and children, and even at the workplace, the best thing you can do for everyone is to take a break. Get the hubby to watch the kids or drop them off at the grandparents, so that you take an afternoon off to do what you want to do. And no, you’re not to catch up on housework or finish up a work presentation. You’re entitled to enjoy a few hours of complete, utter indulgence, like a spa session or just curling up at home with a book you started three years ago, and drinking your coffee while it’s still hot. By the way, to fully enjoy yourself, please chuck the guilt at the door.
In their elusive quest to become a super mummy, many mums forget how to be a happy one.
#5 Lower the bar from “being perfect” to “being good enough”
In their elusive quest to become a super mummy, many mums forget how to be a happy one. Trying to ace every single aspect of motherhood puts undue stress on mothers who are silently drowning in a sea of responsibilities. Social media has also set the bar ridiculously high, such that any mum who feels she can’t match up to her Instagram mummy friends and their seemingly perfect lives is flunking motherhood. Accept that for the most part, you will be a “good enough” mum. Somedays, you will not have the time, or energy, to whip up a four-course meal for your mini-me and will serve him store-bought nuggets and fries instead – and it’s okay! After all, only your child can rate you on how well you’re doing as a mum. And as long as you’re in a good mood and have time for them, you’re the best!
#6 Don’t let guilt mongers get to you
Speaking of trolls… It’s unbelievable how many people – friends, family and even strangers – feel like they have the right to weigh in on your parenting choices. This is especially more prevalent because of the social media world that we live in today. Mum shaming has increasingly becoming a big social problem with “sanctimummys” (or sanctimonious mummies) who thrive on critiquing other women’s ability to parent. Even celebrities aren’t spared! Just look at how they ripped supermodel Chrissy Teigen apart for conceiving via IVF. The bad news is that you can’t avoid the parenting police from giving your knuckles a virtual rapping if for feeding your tot baby formula or piercing your daughter’s ears. What you can do though, is to see their “input” for that they really are, an easy way to justify their own self-doubt when it comes to their parenting choices. The next thing you should do is kick these people out of your life permanently. And good riddance to bad rubbish!
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