5 Steps to Deal with Mum Guilt
Let's do a quick recap of the moment your child was born. A tiny human being is thrust into your care, and a rush of emotion floods through your head. You feel an initial swell of pride, joy, wonder and love--then fear, anxiety and yes, guilt creep in. All of a sudden you’re responsible for this child's entire life. Everything you do or don't do will affect this child in some way and it's going to be all your fault.
We tend to fuss over every detail in the hopes of making sure we do it right. Unfortunately, it's adding unnecessary strain on our personal lives. Which is why it is truly important to learn how to address mum guilt before it starts affecting our mental health.
Here are a few steps you can take to help you deal with these feelings once and for all:
- Accept that you can't win them all
First off, you must learn to manage your expectations and let things go. Parenting is not about perfection, it's about providing a safe and healthy environment where your child can grow and learn. With that being said, learn how to prioritise what matters most, then choose your battles. Try to mentally picture a priority checklist and put the items on that list in its proper order. This way, even if you can't finish all the items in your list, you can be sure that you have fulfilled the most important ones, diminishing those guilty feelings.
Eliminate mum envy
Feeling mum envy after looking at other mothers on social media? Don't. What you’re seeing on their social media pages is not what happens on a daily basis, it's the highlight reel. The truth is, we are all just trying to make the best decisions with what we have for our families, and that is enough. When you start comparing yourself to other mums, no one wins. Because being a parent was never a competition in the first place.
Take yourself out of the equation
Change the way you mentally view yourself. Try looking at yourself from a different perspective, what would you say to a dear friend who’s going through the same feelings as you are? Chances are, you’d probably be more understanding while trying your best to reassure her that she is not a terrible mum. That’s because we’re often much too harsh on ourselves and more forgiving of people who are close to us. Sometimes, we need to just stop and view ourselves from another person’s shoes to see that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a break. Know this, your children can be quite forgiving, so maybe it’s time you become a little more forgiving of yourself too.
- Delay your reactions
Most of the time your most guilt-inducing moments happen due to sudden reactions, which is also likely to be over the top. It usually happens under your nose--at some point you’re going to hit that limit wherein you’ve just had it “up to here” with your kids. These are the moments where you really need to recognise what’s happening and what you’re feeling before you respond to your children. So, it’s probably best to pause for a while so you can reflect before you give the appropriate reaction.
- It takes a village
Never feel guilty about asking for help. Parenting is not a job reserved for just one person. Surround yourself with a supportive community of close family and friends who understand what you are going through. Need to attend that career-advancing seminar or perhaps just need some alone time to relax? Leaving your child with their super indulgent and ever-doting grandparents is not the worst thing you can do. Go ahead and take that break because as a mum, you earned it.
So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with mum guilt, take a deep breath and remember, we are all just trying to give our children the best that we can and that's what makes us great parents.
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