Ah, the dreaded Mummy Guilt. You know, the feeling you get…
I have experienced all of the above since I became a mummy two and a half years ago but it’s a huge relief to know that I’m not alone. Guilt is something all mothers experience. It comes with the job.
I also think everyone feels guilty regardless of what their decision is. If a mum works full time, they feel guilty because they’re neglecting their children or they’re not being the kind of mum they’ve seen in mother/baby magazines. If they don’t work at all, they feel guilty because they feel they’ll be perceived to be lazy or they’re letting themselves down by not pursuing their career. And if they work part time, like me, people think you have the best of both worlds, only sometimes it’s the worst of both worlds because you’re not doing either job at full capacity.
I spoke with my guilt-ridden mummy colleagues at MediaCom Edinburgh who shared their daily guilt trips they go on and all the things they feel bad about when it comes to their kids.
– “My experience with it when I was on maternity leave. I felt guilty for needing a break. For wanting to go to Asda on my own – just to look around the shops and do groceries! I held back for ages on doing anything for myself like going to get my nails done or my hair done because I felt guilty like I should be with my daughter every minute. It helped to realise that she has a dad who is equally capable of looking after her – it’s a partnership/shared role and not all on me. I also realised that doing things for me and have some ‘me’ time even just for an hour made me feel better and in turn made me a better mummy as I was less stressed”
– “As they get older and you become a bit hardened to it as a parent it definitely gets much easier! When they’re little it’s obviously really good for them to spend lots of time with their parents but there comes a point where they start to benefit from being around other kids and have other people look after them as well and as a parent you just have to remember that. You also need to remind yourself that it’s good for you to have time for yourself…I know I’m a better, more tolerant, less shouty parent precisely because I don’t spend every waking hour with them!”
– “It never quite leaves you but I guess that’s all part of being a mum – though I have always wondered why men don’t feel the same or quite as guilty as we do, they don’t appear to overthink it? Now maybe that’s another topic entirely.”
– “I get over it by making sure I spend as much time with my daughter as possible at weekends and also let her know why I haven’t been around. I don’t think it is a bad thing for her, or any of them really, to know that we work hard and that while we would love to be with them all the time, it just isn’t always possible.”
– “The Mummy guilt never goes – the reasons just change. I feel guilty all the time. That is what leads to me volunteering for everything that other sane people don’t want to say yes to. Hubby says that when I am in a playgroup AGM/hockey committee or parent council meeting, my arm has a life of its own and tends to end up in the air. He tries to make me sit on my hands but it doesn’t work. I have been chair of the local preschool, snack buyer for the playgroup, hockey team manager, class and year group rep at the school, parent council board member and I have also run the school fruit group for the last 4 years (where we chop fruit and send it round each class – for over 600 kids – every Friday!) and even manage to get on almost every school trip they have had at primary school so far. That’s on top of working pretty much full time since they were 7 months old.”
So I’ve realised that it’s completely natural to feel guilty – but it doesn’t mean you should act on those feelings. Taking time for yourself is incredibly important. I’ll try to appreciate those baby free trips to the cinema, those rare evenings out with my sisters for a cocktail or two, those trips to the nail salon and even a long soak in the bath!
And with another baby on the way in the summer, I guess I’ll have to deal with double the guilt – eek!