Motherhood is a beautiful and transformative journey, but it can also be accompanied by feelings of guilt and self-doubt. Mum guilt, the persistent and often irrational sense of not doing enough for our children, is a common struggle faced by many mothers.
As both a mum and counsellor I understand the weight of this emotional burden and the impact it can have. In this blog post, I will guide you through five essential steps to help you overcome mum guilt and embrace a more positive and balanced approach to parenting.
Step 1: Gain Awareness
The first step in overcoming mum guilt is to gain awareness of its origins. Society bombards mothers with unrealistic expectations and standards that can be nearly impossible to meet. It's crucial to recognize that mum guilt often stems from external influences rather than actual shortcomings as a parent. The constant comparison to other parents, societal pressure, and the fear of judgment can intensify these feelings. Understanding that mum guilt is a product of external influences can help you detach yourself from its grip and focus on what truly matters. For more on these external influences, see my previous blog post.
Step 2: Challenge Negative Self-Talk
Mum guilt thrives on negative self-talk and self-criticism. It's time to challenge those damaging thoughts and replace them with self-compassion and kindness. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with the resources and circumstances you have. Recognize that no one is a perfect parent, and every mother faces challenges along the way. Try to reframe your negative thoughts by focusing on your strengths as a mother and acknowledging the love and care you provide for your children. You are their world, they don’t care what the house looks like or whether you’ve made tea from organic produce all from scratch.
Step 3: Set Realistic Expectations
Setting realistic expectations is crucial in overcoming mum guilt. Striving for perfection will only fuel feelings of inadequacy and guilt, no one is perfect, perfect simply doesn’t exist. It can be hard to let go of the idea but understand that you cannot be everything to everyone at all times and no one should expect that much of you. Prioritize and focus on what truly matters to you and your family. For example, you could create a list of your values and focus on these rather than the act of ‘doing’ all the time. Let go of the notion that you need to be the "perfect" mother and embrace the idea that being a loving and imperfect parent is enough.
Step 4: Practice Self-Care
Self-care is not a luxury but a necessity, especially for mothers. Taking care of your own well-being is not selfish; it's an essential aspect of being a responsive and content parent.
Make self-care a priority in your daily routine. Find activities that bring you joy, whether it's reading a book, taking a yoga class, enjoying a hobby, or simply having quiet time for yourself. Nurture your physical, emotional, and mental well-being, and remember that by investing in yourself, you are also benefiting your children. Your children get to see you looking after your self and will grow up understanding that they are allowed to look after themselves.
Step 5: Seek Support
Remember, you do not have to face mum guilt alone. Seek support from trusted friends, family members, or other mothers who can empathize with your experiences. Share your thoughts, concerns, and struggles with those who can provide a listening ear and offer valuable insights. Join local parenting groups or online communities where you can connect with other mothers who may be experiencing similar feelings. Consider seeking counselling to gain a deeper understanding of your emotions and develop strategies to overcome mum guilt effectively.
Mum guilt is a natural part of the parenting journey, but it doesn't have to define your experience. By following these five steps, you can gradually overcome the grip of mum guilt and cultivate a more positive and balanced perspective on motherhood. Become aware of the external influences that contribute to guilt, challenge negative self-talk, set realistic expectations, prioritize self-care, and seek support when needed.
Remember, all your children need is a loving mum.
How are your levels of mum guilt? How are you managing it? I'd love to hear your views.
I also offer a free 15 minute discovery call where we explore how we can work together.