Have you heard of the term mummy guilt? Ever suffered from it?
I was one of those people who felt mummy guilt every single day. Am I doing the right thing? Should I be parenting this way? Can I go to the gym and leave the kids with a friend? All these questions get thought about daily and it makes a mum go crazy.
Being a mum is the best job in the world, but it is also the hardest. No two people parent the same way, and it is hard to bounce ideas of others for the fear of judgement. However, we as women and as mums, all need to stop, take a breath and realise that we do not need to do it all by ourselves. There are people in the wings that are willing to step up and help, we just need harness that mummy guilt and ask. Yes, drop the “I’m the best mum in the world” act be a big girl, use your words and ask for help.
We as females and especially mums tend to overthink things. There is a huge difference between men and women and the way we deal with situations that are dealt to us. We women hold on to things, we stew on them and we don’t let things go easily. Men have their moment and then let it slide. Females are wired differently and have that monthly cycle of hormones to contend with, but that doesn’t mean we should use this as an excuse for our behaviours and mood swings. We need to learn how to harness it, how to deal with what we call mummy guilt and all that comes with it.
How many of you think that no one can look after your kids as good as you can? How many of you have had to plan to go away for a weekend and gone as far as writing out a schedule, laid out clothes and procrastinated over if you really can go or not? My hand is in the air, actually both hands are as high as they can go! I have even laid out clothes for a week with notes on them for which day they are for, to make sure they are colour coordinated and look good. *Insert massive eye roll here*
Things get a little trickier when you are a perfectionist though ... and I am one of them. If I don't do it myself then I think that it isn't done right. This has come back to bite me in the bum on numerous occasions as I have had to work twice as hard on stepping back and allowing others to do things. I had to sit on my hands, bite my tongue and allow others to help. This became very apparent when my eldest at 15 needed to learn how to cook and the basics like cutting and coring an apple was a big deal! Why? Because I had always done it for her!! It was not her fault that she didn't know how to do such easy tasks, it was mine. Perfectionist mum/control freak was to blame because I couldn't let go. In crept the mummy guilt again and I started to feel shit because my controlling ways had hindered my children. Here I was thinking I was being a good mum by doing everything and allowing the girls to be kids and play etc when I was really doing an injustice to them.
It took some very blunt advice from a friend and lots of soul searching for well over 12 months to come to the realisation that I could let go, and I didn't need to be that person that controlled everything. I could take time out for myself and give myself some space and time to breathe. My girls weren't going to learn life's basics if I didn't stand back and allow them to work things out for themselves and I was only going to run myself into the ground if I kept walking the road I was on. I was going to end up hating my life, hating everything and everyone around me because I was too stubborn to let my walls down and let go of the mummy guilt.
My friend said to me "Only you can allow yourself to feel that way" and they were right. I was the only one conjuring up all this mummy guilt and I was the only one that could fix this. They also used the analogy of the air hosty asking you to put your oxygen mask on before helping others. If I didn’t start putting myself first, I was going to be no good to anyone. So ... I set about being more conscience of what I was doing and started to make small changes. Things like going away for girls’ weekends with my friends and having fun. In the beginning I would go shopping on these weekends and end up buying things for my girls. Little presents, but these were presents that they did not need. Why did I feel the need to butter them up because I had left them for the weekend? I would go away and not feel guilty, but then I sabotage myself by rewarding them for missing me and expecting presents every time I went away? That needed to change, but at least I recognised it needed to change.
I wanted to change, and I needed to set boundaries and have that awkward conversation with my family and work colleagues. That conversation being if I were away not to call me unless it is an emergency, to give me time off without having to worry about what’s going on back home. I told them I would call morning and night to say hello and ask how everything is going and that there was no need to check in every half an hour. I want my family to know they can call me for help anytime they need me, but I don't need to be called every hour on the hour to ask if they can pee!
I have a daughter who suffers severe anxiety and one of the hardest mummy guilt moments I had to deal with was letting her find her own way and deal with things her way. I felt like I needed to wrap her in cotton wool and to a certain extent I did, but I also needed to allow her to find her to work it out. If I didn’t then she would still be at her lowest point, and we would be going around and around in circles. I needed to let her go without Mum holding her hand the whole way. I felt guilty doing it, but it was an evil necessity.
It's hard! It is really hard to let go of mummy guilt but trust me when you do you will feel the biggest weight lift off your shoulders. It's ok to take time out for you! The world is not going to stop revolving because you took time out to do something for yourself. Your children will build resilience and become more rounded little people if you let go of the reins. Your partner will respect the boundaries and give you space, truth be told they are probably craving the same thing and too scared to ask for it. Like my friend said 'only you can allow yourself to feel mummy guilt' so, don't allow yourself to. Nip it in the butt! It's not about being selfish to take time out for you, it is self-love. You are always going to have that little niggle of guilt hanging around, just learn how to harness it.
Mummy guilt is real, it is very real, but only if you allow it to be. You do it to yourself and there is no need to. When you learn to let go and break through that barrier, you will be a much happier, more fun, free person and life will become easier. Give it a try! It's not going to happen overnight, but it will happen. Try baby steps at first and putting small things into practice but please I beg you take time out for you! Being a mum is the hardest job in the world, but you can also have a life.
Elsa sings "Let it go" so let it go. It is not a sin to do something for you, you deserve it!