Mum Guilt | What I Feel Guilty About + Hacks
As a first-time mum, I had all these ideals on what motherhood ought to be like. I was determined to be the “perfect” mother; one who got everything right. Things took a different turn and I had to contend with a whole new set of emotions.
Mum guilt reared it’s ugly head in the very first days when I was unable to breastfeed my newborn because it hurt so much. I felt like the worst mother in the world. As the years progressed, the guilt manifested itself when things didn’t go as smoothly as had I imagined.
For today’s post, I thought I would tell you about those things that I have felt guilty about and also provide you with ways through which I am learning to combat this guilt. Let’s get into it.
Things I have felt guilty about as a mum & how I learned to cope
- Using TV as a passtime/distraction. At first I used to feel really guilty about this especially when I needed her to be distracted long enough for me to finish a piece of work, take a shower or cook. But with time I have realised that a bit of TV isn’t too bad. Now that Elly is older, putting on nursery rhymes is proving to be beneficial because she is learning so much from them. I make sure to monitor what she watches and also the amount of time she spends watching her cartoons either on TV or online.
- Leaving baby girl with her nanny. This was and still is my biggest fear. I have been lucky enough to find a nanny who loves Elly as if she is her own child and who Elly loves as well so I have some peace of mind. However, there is always that fear that your child will need you when you are far away. I have learned to reason with myself by reminding myself that I need to go out and hustle. That’s the only way that I will earn money to look after her. Also, allowing her to interact with other people has really helped her language and social skills.
- Yelling. I will not pretend that I don’t yell because I do. I’m not proud of it and I have realised two things: (1) Elly does not respond well to being yelled at. She just shuts down. If I want her to react I have to speak to her calmly. And (2) most of my yelling is stress-induced or it occurs when I have lost my patience. To combat this, I am learning to catch myself before I yell. I pause, take a breath and ask myself whether yelling is the right course of action at that point. Then I try to explain to her why I am not happy with her and show her the right thing she should have done.
- Being too busy. There are times when I am extremely busy. I am now balancing two jobs so it can get a little hectic. Those days when I have a tight deadline to meet, I try to dedicate mealtimes and a few minutes in between my work when I sit with Elly, talk, sing and play. Sometimes I will ask her to accompany me to the shops just so that we can spend more time together. And when my schedule isn’t too tight, I take a day off when we either go out or do nails or hair; anything that will enable us to spend some time together.
- Not having enough breast milk. When Elly was born, I quickly realised that my breast milk wasn’t enough for her and so I had to supplement it so that she would get satisfied. I remember feeling so guilty about this, like I wasn’t enough for her. But I came to learn that this happens to some mothers and it’s okay.
- Not being able to provide everything she asks for. I’m a single parent surviving on a single parent income. There are times when Elly asks for something and I can’t afford it. I feel guilty at times but I am lucky that at such an early age she understands when mummy doesn’t have the money for some things. I make sure to always explain why I am not buying her things that she asks for when she asks for them. And when I can, I remember to get her something that I know she will love.
- Knowing that it’s impossible to be a perfect parent. I have my own faults as a human being and these sometimes project onto my parenting. But this does not mean that I don’t try my best. I know I will fall short every once in a while but in between that I put in as much effort to be as good a parent to Elly as can be.
- Note what you feel guilty about and if you can change it. For instance, I am working on finding out the root cause of my yelling so that I can work on it once and for all.
- Choose your battles. Things don’t always have to be perfect. You might not be able to watch your child every minute of every day or have them impeccably dressed at all times but that doesn’t mean that you become flustered. If it doesn’t harm your child, let it go. Learn to make do with an untidy house or mismatched clothes or that cartoon she watches over and over again.
- Set aside some time each day to spend exclusively with your children. Keep the electronics away and play with them. Sit on the floor, go out and accompany them as they ride their bicycle, sing or even watch their favourite cartoon with them. This will help you bond.
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