It is a fact of modern motherhood that so much of our daily life is infused with feelings of guilt. A word that has such negative connotation, guilt can be negative and manipulative, and even paralyzing if you allow guilt to dictate your daily decisions. In fact, too much guilt can become not just a “feeling,” but also an all-encompassing way of life.
A little remorse can even be a good thing if it inspires action and change for the better. It can be a positive motivation. Many mums put a lot of unnecessary pressure on themselves, feeling that they should be doing something “better” all the time. This kind of guilt will consume you and take over your life! Some people even feel guilty for feeling happy!
Guilt is a common human emotion, best used in moderation. Why not use little moments of “helpful guilt” as a guide to make better decisions – and focus on reinforcing your positive priorities in life. Instead of feeling guilty about doing everything “wrong” as a mother, try to give yourself more credit for making the best choices possible in every moment.
Mums need to let go of guilt and start practicing self-care and positive affirmation. You deserve to enjoy life and have an independent identity.
Here are 15 things you should definitely not feel guilty for doing.
Having a Date Night with Your Partner – Alone!
It is important for couples to keep the passion alive in their marriage. Remember: you two were in love and wanted to be together even before your baby was born, so be sure to make each other a top priority.
Focusing your attention on your spouse does not diminish your love for your baby. If anything, happier marriages make for more strongly connected families. As a woman, you need intimacy and affection in your life, outside your role as a mother.
Taking a Day Off and Going to a Spa, Lunch with Girlfriends, or Just Time Alone – You Deserve it!
Being a mum is a tough job – so why do we expect mums to never take a day off? At any other job, you’re entitled to paid leave and sick days and other perks; so be sure to renegotiate your “mum contract” to get the rest and relaxation you need. The more rested and de-stressed you feel, the better you will be able to care for your child.
Overindulging – Chocolate Cake, a Zillion Calories for a Moment of Pleasure – Why Not!
Breastfeeding burns calories, so don’t feel bad about boosting your caloric intake now and then with a favourite dessert. As they say, chocolate does not ask stupid questions, chocolate understands!
Doing Something Sneaky to Get a Bit of Peace
This could include “hiding” the kids’ iPad or “losing” the video game controllers to force the kids to play outside. Parents need to stay sane, and if your kids are cooped up in the house with too much screen time, that’s a recipe for a cranky mum and fussy kids.
Do whatever it takes to manage your kids in a way that keeps them active and engaged with the larger world beyond the screen – even if you have to use subterfuge!
Not Being a Good Cook, Costume Maker, Singer, Storyteller, Housekeeper – No One is Perfect!
Many mums feel like they have to be a non-stop domestic goddess. This is of course completely ridiculous. Do not expect that of yourself. Focus on your strengths. If you love to cook, do that. If you love to clean but hate to cook, focus on keeping a clean house and order takeout food for dinner or make simple meals.
Accept your child’s compliment that you are a great cook, even if you only know how to “cook” instant noodles. A two year old seriously does not know the difference!
Wearing Clothes that Are Comfortable and Not Fashionable
We all laugh about “mum jeans” and the tendency of mums to fall into a fashion rut where they barely can leave the house in anything but sweat pants and spit-up-stained shirts. However, the truth is that you are working hard every day to care for your kids and juggle a home.
There is no shame in giving up on the expectation that you have to look ravishing and well put together all the time. It is most important to not compare yourself to others. You can always get dressed up for that “date night” we discussed earlier.
Binge Watching TV
Sometimes you need escape, especially after the kids are asleep. So, do not feel bad about enjoying your favourite shows, or even your guilty-pleasure “mindless TV” dramas or “chick flick” movies. Mums have a lot to think about all day, and sometimes you just need to relax in front of the TV – no guilt at all there!
Going Shopping Instead of Going to the Gym
Remember that you lost 500 calories breastfeeding so skipping a session at the gym evens out. Just wandering around the shops alone can feel like heaven and treating yourself to a little gift is an energy booster.
Just make sure you are not practicing “financial infidelity” by being secretive about major purchases. Perhaps you and your partner can each agree to a monthly “allowance” where you each get to spend a certain amount on whatever you want for yourself.
Closing the Bathroom Door and Locking It (Make Sure the Kids Are Safe with Someone)
Sometimes you just need to get away from the incessant, ever-accelerating demands of your children with just 5 or 10 minutes alone in the bathroom.
Just being able to use the toilet by yourself, without an audience feels like a mini-holiday. Don’t feel guilty!
Saying Yes Occasionally to Kids’ “Bad” Ideas
Let’s be honest, kids can come up with some terrible ideas. They often want to wear pyjamas to the park or eat ice cream for breakfast. If you are tired, distracted, and just want to keep some peace, go ahead and say “yes.”
This is nothing to feel guilty about! If you usually do a good job of keeping up a regular routine and are feeding your kids a healthy diet, it is totally OK to indulge them occasionally.
Throwing Out Your Kids’ Artwork
Especially once your kids go to daycare or preschool, your home will soon be overwhelmed with art projects. You might feel pangs of nostalgia at the thought of throwing away these precious little drawings and paintings. But think ahead – do you really want to carry around all of this stuff for 20 years?
Keep a few favourite items, then take photographs, and quietly discard the rest. You do not have to be buried in lovely, well-intentioned art clutter.
Sitting Still and Reading
Don’t feel bad about stealing some time to read a book or magazine for pleasure, all by yourself. It is a good lesson for your kids to see you reading, because it shows them that they have the power to entertain themselves without having to interrupt you all the time.
Help them relax. Teach mindfulness and meditation to them. Alternatively, have them sit beside you and join you with a picture book or art project of their own.
Saying No to Elaborate Volunteer Requests
Especially once your kids are in school, you’re going to be bombarded with volunteer requests, each one seemingly more complex and time-consuming than the last. Feel free to say “no.” You are busy, and you do not have to feel guilty that you can’t help make 36 cupcakes for tomorrow’s school party, or create an authentic looking batman costume for Halloween, or chaperone the school field trip to the zoo.
Say “No” whenever you are anything less than 100% enthusiastic about an opportunity – and forget the guilt.
Not Having Enough Quality Time with Your Kids
Many mums have the feeling that they should somehow be engaging with their kids at every minute of the day – but this is just not realistic. After all, you have so many other things to do, and you need to have a life of your own as well. So let the children play alone. Independent play is an important learning and growth experience for children. They “need” you less than you might realise.
Losing Your Temper Now and Again
Every mum has those moments where she overreacts to misbehaviour. This is OK. Life is hard, and parenting can be exhausting. We’re all doing the best we can with limited sleep, time and resources. You are not a machine.
Keep in mind that mums cannot do it all. Strive for balance, not perfection. Multi-tasking is about as big a myth as saying we can have it all. There’s no such thing as a perfect Supermum who makes nutritious homemade organic meals every day, constantly engages children with stimulating educational activities, keeps a perfectly clean house, and still finds time to get dressed up to look sexy for her partner at night. Just getting through the day with a healthy, safe, well-fed, well-loved child is often a triumph in itself.
Be kind to yourself – and do not feel guilty about perceived shortcomings, mistakes and weaknesses. Celebrate life as a mum in the truest sense – your kids and partner will love the real you.
Do you think that mums tend to be too hard on themselves? Why or why not? What other things do you think mothers should give themselves a break about? Please join the conversation, “like”, and share this article to keep the conversation going.