Ah, mum guilt. Sometimes it feels like once we’ve given birth we give birth again, to guilt – it can feel like guilt is a constant and unwelcome companion on our motherhood journey. We feel guilty for going to work and leaving our children, guilty for not working and not contributing financially or being independent. Guilty when we don’t see our friends, guilty when we do see our friends. Guilty for not playing with our children enough, guilty when we spend time playing with them and leave everything else undone.
IT FEELS LIKE WE CAN’T WIN
Many people believe that mum guilt is part of the package of motherhood and we need to just suck it up and get on with it, but I don’t subscribe to that – I believe holding the feelings up to the light can be transformative.
In my experience, mum guilt often comes from fear – and when we get to the core of that fear it is often some variation of ‘I’m not good enough’.
NOT A GOOD ENOUGH MUM, BOSS, WIFE OR FRIEND
It’s not surprising, that in one of our most significant roles as a mother, our fear is triggered. It’s often a sign of how much we love our children and desperately want the best for them. It’s human to feel guilt, to feel the struggle, to feel internally conflicted after all being a parent is really hard and let’s face it life is really hard but I believe we don’t need to make it even harder by listening to the guilt gremlin.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT MUM GUILT?
Knowing where your guilt is coming from can be really illuminating and helpful – especially if you’ve never investigated it before and have been running from it, making friends with your guilt is the first step to transforming it.
Here are my other top tips:
EMBRACE YOUR IMPERFECTIONS
So often we expect perfection from ourselves, which is not only totally unrealistic and can never be achieved – it also stops us from demonstrating to our children how we love ourselves despite being imperfect – I think one of the most important lessons we can impart.
Following on from embracing imperfection, self-compassion and kindness is one of the most vital muscles we can flex as mothers. We are so hard on ourselves, yet often so understanding and kind to those around us. A good exercise is to look at a picture of younger self (aged 10 or under) and speak kindly, encouragingly and gently to that little girl, especially about your feelings of guilt, then know that the little girl is you.
QUIETEN YOUR INNER GUILT GREMLIN
Yes, we all have one. That little voice that tells you’d be a much better mum if you stayed at home (if you’re a working mum), or went to work, (if you stay at home). Learning to see this little voice for what it is, not your reality or truth can be incredibly freeing – they are just thoughts and are you are so much more than your thoughts. If you manage to catch your guilt gremlin in action, see if you can stop mid thought and replace it with a kind, loving phrase such as ‘i’m doing my best’.
HAVE CONVICTION IN YOUR CHOICES
By getting clear on what you value – what’s truly important to you? Make your choices based on your values, then stand by those choices. It’s totally natural to wobble once you’ve made a choice but if it’s come from a conscious, considered place aligned to your values it’s going to be easier to stand by that choice and own it when the guilt gremlins come knocking.
it can be so easy to get lost and all consumed by the petty, day to day niggles and worries of life, but a great tool is to put guilt into perspective – you might feel guilty that you took your children to school when they weren’t 100% as you needed to work, but raise it up a level and ask yourself some powerful questions ‘Am I a loving, present parent? Am I trying my best?’ Reconnect back to the reasons why you work and watch the guilt gremlin climb back into its box.
And finally, remember that what we need from ourselves and each other is unconditional love and understanding – and that is more important than anything the guilt gremlin will tell you.
Zoe’s coaching package ‘freedom from guilt’ currently has 3 spots open, so get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org if you are struggling with mum guilt and are ready to reconnect to the truth of who you are – a perfectly imperfect mother doing her best.