Mum guilt – ugh!
The reason mums are so exhausted isn’t that they carry the physical workload of two and a half full-time jobs. Or because of the 72 mum-admin tabs open in their brain at any one time, or because they feel emotions so deeply that their heart might burst.
It isn’t just the physical, mental or emotional load of motherhood. It’s that on top of all that, we carry around the giant weight of mum guilt.
This is the second of our articles on mum guilt. Make sure that you check out the first which talks about what mum guilt is, why we feel it, and how to recognise it. You can find the first article here: https://www.schoolmumscorner.com/trapped-under-the-weight-of-mum-guilt/
This article has some fantastic tips for mum guilt to help you get through today, this week, this term, and the next twenty years as a mother.
Accept that you don’t need to be perfect, and it’s ok to be ok
One of the biggest reasons for mum guilt is that we constantly feel like we should be doing better.
If we are working to financially provide for our child, we feel guilty that we aren’t physically there caring for them.
If we didn’t have time to handcraft the perfect low-fat low-sugar nut-free plastic-wrap free lunch for our child (even though this is because we were too busy searching for his missing shoe under his bed), we feel guilty for the random packets thrown together in the lunchbox instead.
Mum guilt comes from a constant worry about being perfect or at least appearing to the outside world that we are perfect.
One of the first steps to battle mum guilt is to remove the idea, and even the appearance of, perfectionism from your mind. Remove the word entirely from your vocabulary. No one is perfect, including you.
And one of the best lessons you can teach your child is to not aim for perfectionism, but accept themselves for their best efforts instead.
Don’t compare or compete with others
In the world of 24-7 social media, it can be very hard to not compare yourself to others. All over Instagram, we see perfect mums with groomed kids, immaculate rainbow bento lunchboxes, tiny yoga-pant clad butts and gorgeous homes.
It is near impossible to look at those kinds of pictures, and then look around your own lived-in, well-loved home (and body!) and then feel guilty for not stacking up.
We need to remember that nobody’s life looks like Instagram all of the time (unless they have a full-time staff of cleaners, makeup artists, event planners, a nanny and a chef).
We also tend to compare ourselves with our partners who manage to head off to work full-time and bring in most of the family income, and not be stressed out crazy with guilt at the same time.
Partners tend not to have mum guilt when they go off to work, because they know that all of their child’s needs are being met BY YOU. They know your child is in the very best hands, so they don’t stress.
When you go to work you know that whatever care your child is getting, it won’t be as good as what you would deliver. So, you have all of your current work thoughts on your mind all day, as well as worrying about your child.
Any time spent feeling guilty is time wasted
You need to stop feeling guilty, because this is a giant waste of time.
There is a great saying that worrying doesn’t fix tomorrow’s problems it just steals today’s joy.
You could be spending this time better concentrating on the moment you are living right now, and fully feel its effects. If you are with your kids – be in the moment with your kids. If you are at work, don’t feel guilty about it, just focus 100% on getting the work done and well.
Any second you spend feeling guilty won’t make you a better mother, or better at anything else. It is just wasted time.
Lower your standards
While we vow that becoming a mum doesn’t mean we are any less awesome at our careers. It’s time to call BS on that concept.
You don’t have to be the career woman, best friend, wife, physical specimen, or anything else you were before you became a mother. You took every responsibility and commitment and pressure you already had, and then you added MOTHERHOOD to it as well.
Being a mum is the equivalent of two and a half full-time jobs (there is research to prove this), on top of everything that you were already juggling. The emotional and mental commitment of it can’t really be measured.
You do not have to be as good as you were before you were a mum, at anything. The most powerful thing you can do is admit that you are doing the best you can now, and that is enough.
The second most powerful thing you can do is ask for help.
Practical Strategies to Help
Vent with good friends regularly and often. Whether it is cups of tea, glasses of wine or a whole chocolate cake, feel free to check in with your mum friends every week and catch up. Give each other a chance to vent without judgement, and you are all guaranteed to feel better afterwards.
Be honest with your kids about how you are travelling. Let them know if you’ve had a bad day, and if you need 15 minutes to yourself completely alone to regroup. Ask for help from them with chores. It’s ok for your kids to see that you aren’t perfect. They will learn that they don’t need to be either.
Be loud and proud about your lack of perfectionism, but without the judgement. By showing other mums around you that you aren’t perfect, and you don’t mind, this gives them permission to feel the same way. Let’s start a movement of imperfect mums who love and accept themselves regardless.
Sure, we could all do better.
Maybe we rock our baby to sleep when we know we are supposed to put them down half-awake to self-soothe.
We don’t feed our kids the best, or always help with their homework. Or make sure they brush their teeth before school, or put cute notes in their lunchbox. Sometimes we work during school holidays and put them in care. And sometimes we leave for work before they wake up or get home after they’ve gone to bed.
Sometimes we snap and yell at our kids because they aren’t moving fast enough. And sometimes we save the grumpiest version of ourselves for our children. Even though everything we are doing is for them.
Your kids need to be safe and loved, and they need to feel secure in these two things. This is the minimum, and if you are doing this, you are doing all right. Work upwards from there, some days you will do better, some days you won’t feel like you accomplish anything.
Tell yourself (and believe it) that you are enough, and turn that mum guilt off.