From the moment of birth, no actually from the moment we realise we’re pregnant, most Mums feel guilty. ‘Oh no, I didn’t realise I was pregnant I’ve been smoking/ drinking/ doing cart wheels’. The guilt continues and continues. ‘I didn’t breastfeed, I feel guilty’, ‘I’m a working Mum, I feel bad for leaving kids’, ‘I’m a stay at home Mum, I feel bad cos I don’t earn money to treat the kids’. I think if we’re honest most of us can relate to this, I certainly did today. Another baking hot day, we went for a family walk. Sweating profusely, pushing a buggy over bumpy grass I managed to run it into our dog Trixie’s back leg. I thought nothing of it, but then she could barely walk, hyperventilating, ears down. We knew she had to go to the vets but the worst thing about it was my distraught daughter, sobbing and crying. Cue a very guilty Mummy.
I don’t know why as women we experience this sometimes disproportionate guilt concerning our children. (Men don’t seem to suffer from it). Maybe it’s an evolutionary thing to ensure we put the needs of our children first?
I reflected on this guilt at what was just a small accident and knowing that as Mums we all experience it and occasionally it can get quite distressing and out of proportion, I thought I would give some tips on how to manage it.
- Acknowledge that you are feeling guilty and that is OK and very normal. We all experience it and it shows that you care.
- Talk to other Mums about it! You will find when you open up about perhaps, feeling guilty about going back to work after having a baby, other Mums will immediately understand how you feel and will often be able to reassure you that you are doing you’re just doing your best.
- Be very mindful about your social media. Remember that most people just post the best parts of their lives on Facebook. How amazing their kids party turned out, what a great day trip they have had today, what cute little cookies they baked with their kids etc. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these posts but subconsciously if we are bombarded with them day in day out we might start to compare ourselves to them and feel guiltily we are not great Mums in comparison. Maybe try to limit your social media time to certain times of the day or even days of the week. Most importantly just remember Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat do not tell the whole story.
- If your guilt is affecting how you see yourself as a mother and you are starting to feel down about things, chat to your health visitor, midwife or GP. We are all human and sometimes our feelings can become overwhelming and affect our mental health. It maybe you just need to talk to someone or you may need some further support.