Yes, I admit it. I almost never feel guilty for my kids. But how weird is it that this lack of guilt feeling has made me feel actually guilty of thinking this way: does that mean that I am a bad mum if I don’t want to spend all my time with my kids?
I believe this type of thoughts reflects quite well what can happen to mothers in general.
In my case, I know that I usually don’t feel guilty because I tend to plan quality time with my kids and always rely upon trusted persons to take care of them, may it be their dad or one of my “Mary Poppins”. I am also very clear about the fact that I would not feel fulfilled if I were to dedicate my entire time to them.
But this feeling of guilt exists and since I am a mum of 2, I have experienced it…probably because now the time is shortened.
But, who – on earth- is guilty of this feeling of guilt?
The answer is clear: the Perfect Mum image, which manipulates us all.
Even though we know about it, here it is: we are fragile victims of a model that does not exist but that we are constantly bombarding ourselves with.
We all want to be like her and because it is impossible, this is when feelings of frustration and guilt appear.
Women’s role has changed a lot but it seems that we are still expecting everything from us as does the society. Our lives need to be perfect, we must look outstanding as do our places, our partners need to be happy and we have to keep a smile on our faces.
If we add to this, the increasing power of the Naturalist Movement that sells us old fashioned ways of acting, then we are top guilt winners if we don’t follow their strict advises through messages such as:
“If you want to be a good mum, you have to breastfeed whenever the baby requires it”…which means- being extreme-, “if you don’t give your milk, you are not doing all you should do for your baby”.
It is true that maternal milk is the best for babies but it should not make us fall in an obsession of breastfeeding such as the new uk fashion of Cross Nursing that makes parents hire the services of women to breastfeed their kids just for the sake of breastfeeding.
No one tells you that what really counts is for the mum to be fine and the emotional attachment with the child to develop smoothly.
Let’s not mention the new “Warrior Mums” trend,that pushes mothers to give birth without medical help and sometimes, ends up in horrible situations.
Come on, let’s stop this!
Even if there is a famous saying “There is no more than one mum”, let’s accept that there are as many mothers as women and none of them is better or worse. There are millions of ways of being a mum and what most counts, is to be fine and in coherence with oneself.
What can we do to feel less guilty?
I believe the main step is to work on our beliefs. This is a constant fight, both internal and external, and it can go through 5 main steps.
Step 1 – Kill the perfect Mum that stills wants to live inside of you!
What type of mum do I want to be? And why? Which part comes from my education or the pressure of the society? Which part is the one I really decide for?
Step 2 – Put aside the belief that “If I take time for myself, I am being selfish”
If we work outside from home whilst still handling most of the household tasks, and go for some “Moments for myself”, it can feel like we are stealing time to our kids and being selfish. Watch out! Having time for me and thinking of oneself is not being selfish. The word itself has a negative connotation.
If we start working on this belief, then we will change our level of guilt.
One of my principles is that I cannot take care of my beloved ones, if I am not ok with myself.
Step 3 – Manage your time, thus your priorities!
The main point is to manage to delegate some tasks in order to spend quality time with our kids. I believe it is also important to say NO consciously to some activities by listening to what we really want to do and enjoying the moment to the full by being there!
By the way, children tend to sleep longer hours than adults, and they usually go to bed earlier (at least in my case). So I believe, evenings can be a good moment for spending time with oneself and this requires some organization. I therefore invite you to read my latest post “Plan to be free”.
-Step 4 – Trust whilst delegating the care of your kids
For me, here there are two topics: on one side, we need to accept the fear of having someone taking our place if we leave our children with someone else. Let’s remind us that no one can ever take our place! This is also a key point to bear in mind whilst delegating: they don’t have to do things the same way as we do!
The other important point is the trust we have in the people we leave our children with, may it be nannies, grand parents or kindergarten. I believe it is really worth it investing time in seeking the right place and interviewing deeply the right persons.
-Step 5 – Say Goodbye to those of your surrounding that make your feel guilty
A Dutch Colleague told me how bad she felt when she picked up her daughter in the playground. She was not as well informed of all school activities and felt kept out from the “Sand Playground Mafia” of mums each time she would appear with her suit and high heels.
Even though I believe she had part of the responsibility of feeling this way, I think it is highly recommended to clean up our network from people pushing on such a guilt pressure on us and share more time with others who support our way of living our maternity.
Let’s not forget that at the end of the day, our kids need a mum but not a mum in whatever emotional state! This guilt feeling can have some dramatic consequences: first on ourselves (and we will come back on this with a post on Post-Partum depression) and on our kids mainly, as it might bring us to struggle putting them limits.
And honestly, who would want to live stuck to their kids (or their husband actually) 24 hours a day?
This would be really dangerous for ours children and for us because it would stop their evolution and stop the separation process that helps our kids become independent!
I wish us all a lot of energy and luck in order to be free…of guilt!