How often do you feel guilty for the choices you’ve made as a Mum?
There are three things that I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting from motherhood: the discovery of what it REALLY means to feel tired, the instant expectation that I will assume the role of ‘hand-maid’, and the constant feeling of Mum Guilt.
While planning my social media campaign, #BanMumGuilt, it has become clear to me that, while every woman’s experience of motherhood is different, the experience of Mum Guilt is something we all go through.
Conversations I’ve had with friends are filled with examples of when we compare ourselves with others, overthink the things that people have said to us, or, understandably, react badly to insensitive things that are said to us because we feel like we're being judged.
We question everything we do and have no confidence that the decisions we have made as parents are the right ones. Which means we feel bad about not doing things differently and worry about the affect it will have on our kids.
We worry about being judged by other people, perhaps in response to the fact that, all too often, we are judging others for the choices they’ve made that are different to ours. This is, undoubtedly, a mindset that we desperately need to leave in the past.
Take for example, my return to work after having each of my sons.
Sadly, I lost my job while I was pregnant with my eldest and that lead me to being out of work for 18 months, which I found really, really hard. I am certain this feeling of not being useful or clever contributed to me eventually suffering from postnatal depression.
I found that on the sleepless nights and early morning breastfeeds, I was sat scrolling through my phone, jotting down ideas for a blog I wanted to create. The fact this was constantly on my mind when I was so tired confirmed to me that I needed to be working as soon as possible, for the good of my mental health.
I am happiest when I'm working, I go to my study to find ways to help other people, to earn my keep and – if I’m honest – to get a break from the kids. That, in itself, makes me feel guilty.
Motherhood is something that I've wanted for a long time, I spent so long wanting to be a mum, so many years wondering if it would ever happened and how I would feel if it didn't. I even knew in my 20’s that my eldest son was going to be called Harry Matthew: because being a mum had always been a huge part of my future.
Now that they are both here, I feel bad that I don't want to be at home with them doing activities and having fun all the time. I feel bad that the thought of being a stay-at-home Mum fills me with dread and I genuinely worry that I wouldn’t manage it.
There are days when I felt utterly selfish for wanting to start a business and build a career, particularly as Harry, aged 4, has Autism and that requires a lot of extra care. I feel like I should be at home with him and putting all my effort into him.
The feeling of guilt around Harry, really, has been there right from the start with him. From the day he arrived I felt like I wasn’t ready to be a mum, like I wasn’t prepared enough and that I wasn’t just ‘clicking’ with this new lifestyle like I thought I would.
It's one of those things you think will come naturally, but it doesn't happen as easily as that. I’ve come to realise that it all comes down to confidence. To realising that these doubts I have in my mind are completely unfounded.
Mum guilt has been a huge feature of my first five years in parenting and I know that is the same for lots of other people too. Every parent I speak to, particularly mums, have questioned everything they do for their kids.
We've been brought up to be humble, been told that being overly confident is arrogant and that putting ourselves down is an attractive trait. As a result, we believe the lies we tell ourselves and we lose confidence in ourselves.
Well, it’s time to put a stop to that. On Friday 7th May, I’m inviting every parent to commit to doing one thing for themselves and, most importantly, not feeling any guilt over it.
I’d love you to post a picture on social media of you having some time for yourself, using #BamMumGuilt, don’t forget to tag us @BanMumGuilt and @ContentPlanningWizard.
If you’d like to share your stories of Mum Guilt, please do. I’d love to hear how it makes you feel and how you overcome it. Sharing your story will help others too!