Simply put, guilt is felt when your actions or thoughts don’t match your own standards.
I think this is the main reason why mum-guilt is SUCH an epidemic. Mums have impossibly high standards.
But where do these standards come from and have they really been created by you?
Media plays on our guilt. Social Media plays on our guilt. Baby/kids companies play on our guilt (they use our emotions as marketing tools). We have an endless stream of images of a stereotypical ‘perfect mum’ thrust in our face.
- Having content children
- Tidy homes
- All the kids clubs
- The latest toy/game/gadget
- The best clothes
- Spending time with our children
- Educating our children
- Helping with homework
- Cooking nutritious meals
- Getting homemade memories made of every moment with our kids
- Working mum
- Stay at home mum
The list goes on and on and I am certain you can add lots more!
It’s no wonder we feel guilty.
- We have constant conflicting messages of what we SHOULD be doing to be the 'best' mum (and I use this term loosely) that we can be.
- We have thousands upon thousands of parenting books telling us what we need to do to be the 'best' parent and raise ‘happy’ children.
- Subconscious messages are fed into our brains and we create them as our own thoughts.
Now guilt isn’t all bad. It enables us to be self-reflective and pay attention to others emotions. When we feel guilt, our brain activates the areas which allow us to take other people’s feelings into perspective and be empathetic. Guilt therefore allows us make amends and say sorry.
But guilt can also be a harmful emotion – especially when it comes to mum-guilt. It seems to be accepted that this is part and parcel of being a mum. I agree with that to a point (we ALL feel mum-guilt), but by accepting it, we prevent ourselves from taking action to decrease the guilt. Ultimately we are punishing ourselves because we are too guilty to tackle the guilt!
- You become tired and stressed out from trying to be ‘perfect’ so you lose the plot, shout at your children - you feel GUILTY.
- You have a million and one things to do but you don't feel like you can ask for help so you end up dropping the ball somehere - you feel GUILTY.
- Me time isn’t an option (as if you have time) and if you do manage to get some, guess what - you feel GUILTY!
Can you see the vicious circle developing here?
So how does guilt manifest? When it comes to mums-guilt, we feel like failures. We don’t feel good enough. We put unbelievable amounts of pressure on ourselves to be ‘perfect’ which is unattainable and we can even start to show signs of anxiety and depression.
We suffer in silence and keep battling through to alleviate our mum-guilt by trying to be 'perfect' for fear of being judged.
So how do we get on top of our mum-guilt?
I have set out 10 tips below to help conquer your mum-guilt.
- Talk about it. When we talk through our feelings, we are able to rationalise them and understand them for what they are. They are simply thoughts that have been created in our subconcious.
- Identify the root of your guilt. Where does it come from?
- Learn the difference between healthy guilt and mum-guilt. Is there a need to say sorry or are you beating yourself up for not being perfect?
- Let go of perfectionism. I can’t stress this enough. Perfectionism doesn’t exist.
- Understand what your core values are and live in alignment with them. Don’t be swayed by the media or anyone else on what is truly important to you.
- It’s okay to ask for help. It’s not a weakness and it doesn’t make you any less of a mum – we ALL need help.
- Be kinder to yourself. Instead of always telling yourself that you’re not good enough, give yourself credit for all the amazing things you do for your family. Even better, write yourself a list.
- Support each other and recognise that we are not the same. We are all different and our children are all different. Parenting isn’t a one size fits all (if only!).
- Prioritise yourself every so often. You are more than just a mum so make room for the things that feed your soul whether it is a hobby, learning or meeting up with friends.
- Remember it is perfectly normal to feel mum-guilt but we need to keep it in control.
I will be sharing more on mum-guilt during March on my Facebook page so please make sure you follow me to receive this content.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and it has helped you gain further insight into mum-guilt. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you feel like you need more support to get over mum-guilt, please feel free to get in touch for a clarity call.
Love, Charlotte xx