The mum guilt is real!
There’s nothing you do as a parent that couldn’t be done better. By you. And there’s nothing you do as a parent which the alternative for wouldn’t leave you feeling guilty either way. You cannot win as a parent, and that’s just considering your own opinion (let alone the multitude of unsolicited personal views – mental punch!).
The other night, after nursery, the toddler wanted to watch some TV and I let him. For 20 minutes, he watched some sweet cartoons in Portuguese (BONUS!) as I cooked a fresh homemade meal (like all our meals at home, by the way).
For those 20 minutes and well into the night and subsequent days, I felt guilty that he was watching TV instead of spending quality time with me or playing independently and creatively in my company.
Had I chosen to spend those 20 minutes in his company but fed him something below my standards, I would have felt equally guilty.
This guilt-no-matter-what type of thing kinda just about made the guilt I was feeling a bit less oppressive, but. WHY?
Is watching TV for 20 minutes, or even an hour, that bad? Especially after a day of stimuli and interaction and fun? I don’t think so. And the odd sub-standard meal is also ok. I genuinely believe the two previous sentences. Yet here I am, rationally thinking it’s fine whilst feeling guilty, no matter what.
I’m not alone in feeling this way. Mothers across the globe report feeling guilty about something and its contrary several times a day. And that’s before we add the guilt of going to work. Of staying home. Of looking after yourself with a hairdresser’s appointment twice a year. Of not looking after yourself at all.
In my quest to get rid of this wasteful thing that is mum guilt, I came across this great article in the Huffington Post on managing mum guilt. I pulled the quote below:
The best way to survive and thrive as a working mom is to get comfortable not giving 100 percent to everything all the time, and remembering that 80 percent is usually enough.
Yes, it really is! Really, really, really. And I need to frame this and remember how in reality, we’ve always been functioning at 80% because we always save a little to ourselves, to sip the coffee, to oxygenate the brain, to chat to colleagues, or read the news. We give it our all without realising 100% is not ours to give. And it’s only when the kids come along that all of the sudden our expectations on ourselves grows and somehow we must deliver above and beyond what’s real or achievable. Insert reality check now, Joey!
I would like to stop the guilt. I don’t have the solution yet, but I’m working on it! For now, just know it’s real. It’s there. All the freaking time! Hug a parent near you and tell them they’re doing a great job; they’ll like that!