When you get pregnant, people will tell you all the usual things. “Get ready to never sleep again, hope you’re ready to change ALL the nappies, good luck clipping their tiny little nails” the list goes on, but one thing that I was NEVER prepared for was the mum guilt.
Good god, the mum guilt.
Mum guilt, in my personal experience, is very similar to that part of anxiety that makes you doubt everything and everyone. You’ll be sat with your baby, watching a bit of telly just for 5 minutes peace, and that little voice in the back of your head will go “they shouldn’t be watching telly, they should be reading books and having tummy time. Other mums wouldn’t do this”. Or you’ll let your baby sleep in your bed just in the hopes that you might actually get more than 2 hours sleep, and again, that little voice will rock up “you shouldn’t have them sleep in your bed, what are you doing, this is awful parenting.”
There are so many examples of mum guilt, and in an age where social media is at such a height, it’s hard to go online and not see parents going “my child NEVER watches telly”, “oh you let your child have juice? My darling doesn’t”. People are constantly trying to one up each other and appear to have the perfect life, even without actually meaning to. But since becoming a parent, I’ve found this is even worse, because when the tiny human that you are in charge of is involved, everything feels like a direct attack – even when it isn’t. It’s because of that, I find myself sitting and thinking “oh my god, I’m letting my child down, I’m not doing enough.”
Grayson is nearly 8 months old, and every single day, that mum guilt will still come out, and I think it always will. But I am still learning, and if you’re a parent and you feel this way – I’ve included below some of the best ways I’ve found to lessen the mum guilt.
- Speak to other parents that you trust. Seeing all these parents on social media, taking their children out constantly and living what you feel is ‘the perfect life’ can be hard. So talk to another parent that you trust, tell them about your mum guilt because I guarantee, they will feel exactly the same. If not a parent, talk to your partner, your family or your friends because I’d bet money that they all think you’re doing a fantastic job.
- Log off. So as I said previously, mum guilt is made 100x worse by seeing other parents on social media, doing everything that you feel the perfect parent would. If I see someone has posted something and I can hear that little voice in the back of my head getting louder, I will simply close whatever I’m on, and give Grayson a cuddle and forget about it. Now I know mum guilt isn’t just caused by social media, but I do personally find this helps.
- Look at your child/children. Now this is the last one, and it may sound really simple, but for me it’s the most effective. If I’m feeling particular guilty; about Grayson not crawling, or watching too much telly or anything along those lines, I will just watch him. In watching him, I can see after 30 seconds what a happy and healthy little boy he is. He is already growing into such a kind and happy little soul, and whether the mum guilt likes it or not, I am doing a good job.
Raising kids is hard, if not one of the hardest things you’ll ever do and mum guilt is an absolute bitch.
But you’ve got this!
*its called mum guilt, but I’m obviously VERY aware that it applies to dads as well!*