Every now and then, good mums deal with the Mummy guilt. In fact, a survey on a popular parenting resource website shows that about 94 percent of mothers feel guilty on a range of issues from feeling they are not good enough parents, feeding their babies formula (rather than breast milk) to not being able to spend quality time with their children, and so on. The truth is that as parents it really is not easy to find the balance between work and spending quality time with our children, so there are times when we may falter. What’s important is the will to keep trying to be a better Mum without letting guilt eat you up during those trying time. Here are a few ways to deal with Mummy guilt and make sure both you and your children are as happy as can be.
1. Rather than throw yourself a pity party, have a plan and back up. Since it’s been established that mummy guilt is universal, don’t eat yourself up with it. Rather than let guilt control you, use it as a check. For example, if you feel guilty about not taking your children swimming, then maybe it’s about time you started, even if it’s only once a month. Like the saying in pidgin English goes, “At all at all na im bad pass.” This means total neglect is worse. Mums with busy schedules need to have a plan. For example, I personally feel guilty that I can’t pick up my children from school every day. To make up for that, I leave the house early so I can drop them every morning and walk them to their classrooms. I also try to pick them up at least once a week.
From our survey, it’s proven that one thing working mums feel guiltiest about is not always been there for their children. Instead of feeling guilty about missing every one of your child’s presentations, have a back up. A back up could be asking Daddy (who should be there anyway) or a close friend go in your stead and record your child’s presentation. It’s not the same as you being there but at least your child feels special knowing someone came.
2. Surround yourself with the right people. It’s important to have the right people around you. Instead of having friends who criticize you for not exclusively breast feeding your baby or not spending enough time with your children, find friends that will encourage you to do the needful. You do not need a friend who instead of proffering solutions to help ends up making you feel worse than you already do. Sometimes, some of those people criticizing you may be worse offenders.
3. It’s not all about the money! Mums may also feel guilty when they can’t afford to buy their children the latest PS3 or take them for a holiday in Dubai. Not owning a game console or being unable to travel for summer is not the end of the world. Rather, we should teach our children to enjoy life without necessarily having so much luxury. Also, we should learn than our children would choose our love and attention over money any day! Giving your child what you can afford or think he really needs per time is the best way to teach him to be content. Don’t feel guilty about it.
4. Make every day count. Many mums need to get off their butts! Rather than just whine about how little you do with your children, start doing something! It may be as simple as playing a computer game, playing cards or chasing them around the yard. Trust me, when you just sit all day with your eyes stuck on your phone or locked in your bedroom, you aren’t adding any value and may feel bad about that later.
5. Make the most of vacations. Rather than schedule your leave when your children are in school, aim for their long vacations. This way, you can really bond with them. Make sure that such vacations are filled with fun activities that the whole family can engage in, and not just a shopping vacation. During short holidays like Easter make the most of the public holiday by giving your children a special treat!
6. Put down your badge! You know that one that says, ‘SUPER MUM,’ yep, it’s time to put it down and give yourself a break! Many mums in the bid to be perfect end up losing sight of what’s important, which is showing their child pure unconditional love. To be a super mum in the true sense, all you need is to love your child, love yourself and be ready to do your best. Make mistakes but make sure to learn from them to get better.
7. Stay positive. Okay, so you know all the stuff you’re doing wrong, how about celebrating what you do right? You may not have been able to buy your child that expensive gift but you are able to do homework with your child very night, and that’s commendable. When you ask your child what’s most important to them, you will find that it’s the little things you do that makes them think you’re the best mum ever. For instance, they may prefer a lazy Saturday spent at home with you than going to that movie without you. Stay positive and try not to sweat the small stuff. If you didn’t spend enough time with your child today, then try and make it up to them tomorrow.
8. Don’t judge yourself neither let yourself be judged. I know you wish you were just like that friend of yours who seems to be the perfect mum. She breastfed her three children till they were almost one, has never missed one school event, meets all her targets at work or better still doesn’t have to work at all! While it’s very good to aspire to be better in your role as a mum, you may find that you’re not doing badly at all. Don’t ever try to be a star in another person’s movie, because you will find yourself falling short. Instead, try to be the best mum you can in your own unique set of circumstances.
9. Find ways to improve. So are there things you could do differently ? Perhaps it may mean spending less time on your phone when you are at home, or not going to every single event you are invited to. Sometimes feeling guilty may be a wake up call to make you prioritise and spend more time with your blessings from God.
Mummy guilt shows that you want to give your children the best, and in all honesty, that alone is a good sign. Just try to make amends where you can and don’t give yourself a hard time. Remember children grow up quickly so maximise every moment. What are your tips to deal with Mummy guilt?