How to Handle Mum Guilt

This post is proudly brought to you by Heather from http://parent-pop.com/. She has a great blog that you should go check out! I also did a guest post for her about learning activities for children with Autism and ADHD. Click here to give it a read!

How to Handle Mum Guilt

I think if you are a parent, you will probably be familiar with this feeling. The horrendous pull in the pit of your stomach telling you that you are doing a terrible job at some aspect of your parenting – commonly referred to as mum guilt.

Now I am not saying that this is solely a mother’s problem and dads do not get this guilt too – maybe they do. But I do think there is a good reason it is known as ‘mum guilt’ and not ‘parent guilt’ or ‘dad guilt’. There is often a huge amount of pressure which falls on a mother’s shoulders – work, childcare, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and organising, to name but a few of our potential responsibilities. On top of that, society often tells us that we should be the emotionally supportive and nurturing rock to our children, whilst making sure they get a good education, taking them to clubs and make sure they have hobbies, and making sure they are fit and healthy. And while we juggle the various roles motherhood throws at us, we often feel we are supposed to be slim, glamourous, and attractive.

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Oh, and I should probably mention that at the same time we should be a good partner to our significant other too.

Whilst maintaining our own friendships.

And caring for the pets.

In fact, when you really think about it… are you even surprised you have mum guilt with this much on your plate?!

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As much as I hate to admit it to myself, I am prone to being a worrier and a perfectionist, and believe me when I say that this does not do me any favours when it comes to feeling mum guilt. Here are just a few of the things I have found myself worrying about in the last few months (during lock down) as a parent:

What I have fed my children

I care very deeply about the health of my children, and goodness knows this is the root cause of some of my guilt here. I care whether they’ve had enough fruit and vegetables, whilst worrying that they’re rotting their teeth by eating too much fruit. I care that they’ve had too much sugar in one go, whilst worrying that I’m too strict on the amount of treats I allow them to have. I care that they’ve eaten pizza more times in the past month than I want to admit (quick, easy and no complaining), but I also worry that I’m setting them a bad example by not cooking a gourmet meal each evening.

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My children’s bedtimes

With lockdown, our routines have gone a little haywire to say the least. My boys have gone to bed a little later, and gotten up a little later, as have I. However, this leads me to worry whether they’ve had enough sleep (or even too much?), whether I am encouraging them to be lazy by not making them get up at their usual time, and whether they will tell their friends the shamefully late times I have let them stay up watching movies with me.

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The amount of screen time my kids are getting

When you’re home all the hours under the sun because you’re not allowed out, is it even possible not to let your kids have more screen time than usual? I feel guilty every time I let them put on the gaming consoles because I need to work from home, and for letting them watch a little too much TV when they first wake up. I feel guilty when my kids ask me what they can do to earn more screen time, and I feel guilty when my children tell me how much more screen time their friends get than they do.

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The lack of exercise they have had recently

Some days, I don’t even think the kids stepped outside of the house. Normally, they are incredibly active, but lockdown has turned us into a family of happy hermits, and we have all found peace with our more relaxed pace of life. But I still find myself thinking I should be getting them to do more, and equally as guilty when I encourage them to do exercise when they are feeling relaxed.

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My children’s education

I am a teacher, and yet this still worries me. Am I getting my children to do enough learning? Or too much? Am I being too hard on them? Or too soft?

This is just a handful of my mum guilt worries, but I think you get the picture.

How do I handle mum guilt?

As you can see, there are so many areas of my parenting that have been affected by mum guilt, and that is over a relatively short space of time. I don’t necessarily think all mum guilt is bad, and sometimes I find it motivates and inspires me to be a better parent. But I also understand that if I let each and every little bit of worry and guilt take hold of me, I would drive myself crazy. With this in mind, I strive for a happy medium of the two: just enough guilt that I don’t become complacent in my parenting abilities, but not enough that I want to hide in a dark cupboard and cry about how crap I am as a mother.

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To get to this happy medium, here are a few things I have had to reflect on and accept on my parenting journey:

  • I am not a perfect parent – and nobody else is either. As I previously mentioned, I am a perfectionist with very high standards for myself, so this is something it took me a while to come to terms with. But once I embraced the idea that I am a good enough parent, and I don’t have to be the best parent, I felt a lot less guilty when I wasn’t putting 110% into my kids 110% of the time.
  • I should not compare myself to other parents. No good ever came from comparing yourself or your kids with other people. I have to accept that I am who I am, and I do what I do, and there’s very little I can do to change that. I have realised that other people do not always show you their true selves, or polish their images to portray what they think people want to see – and this is especially true when you consider social media. I feel a lot better when I focus on my own family and what makes us happy, rather than what might make other people happy.
  • I am too hard on myself sometimes. I have given myself too much pressure in the past, and focussed too heavily on the negatives about myself than the positives. Once I realised this, I was able to begin to start celebrating my strengths more, and let go of the things that I’m less happy with but cannot change about myself.
  • I must accept the things I cannot control. There are some things which make me feel guilty that I can do nothing about. So, what is the point in worrying about them? I have accepted that bad things will happen sometimes, and that is life unfortunately. I cannot protect my children from things that make them feel upset or humiliated, but I can be there to support them and help them learn valuable life lessons from challenging events.
  • I do not need to care what other people think. I feel sad that I wasted many years of my life wrapped up in what other people thought about me and trying to avoid their judgements. The same can be said for parenting, and I can think of times where I have changed my actions or conversation as I worried that I would be perceived negatively as a parent. But nowadays, I have taught myself to challenge this negative though – who really cares what other people think as long as my family and I are happy? And I am a lot happier for it.
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Remembering to consider these things on my personal journey helps me to stay focussed on what is truly important when it comes to my parenting. The worries and guilt are still present in me, but I can now evaluate my thoughts and feelings better and understand whether they need a reaction or not.

If you are experiencing mum guilt, I would encourage you to reflect on your individual parenting strengths, as well as those areas for development. I am certain that you will notice that for the most part, you are a great mum with your children’s best interests at heart. Everyone has things they could probably do improve a little, but that’s all part of the parenting journey – and I believe it is called a journey because every parent is travelling down that long and bumpy road called parenthood. Our children won’t remember the time that you didn’t make a healthy meal or let the house get messy, but they will remember all the love and care they received from you while they were growing up.

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I have decided that mum guilt is nature’s way of reminding you that you care – celebrate it, be proud of it, but remember not to let it get too heavy for you to carry on your own.

Love, Heather x

If you liked this you should check out more of Heather’s stuff at http://parent-pop.com/

You may also like: Mum-tivation
#MakingOverMotherhood
Olivia’s 1st Birthday

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How’s Your Quarantine Life?

COVID-19 has thrown all of us into a new way of life. With that, I want to know what you have done with this ‘new life’? Have you completed Netflix? Did you learn a new language? Did you boastfully show off your basic banana bread on Facebook? Did you play salon and cut/dye your own hair? Did you throat-punch your way to the last toilet roll in Tesco? No? Just me? Okay! Whatever you did, I want to hear about it, see pictures and/or police reports about it. You can share in the comments below or on any of my social medias.

“But Charlotte, did you really throat-punch someone in Tesco?” Of course not. I’ve avoided shops like the plague and instead sent out the human I love the most (Steven) to go for me. That’s true love. It’s the same type of love that means I feel safer in bed with him laying next to me because I can use him as a human shield. Sounds selfish but it’s actually proof of how much I love him. Anyway, what have I been up to during quarantine? Well, owning a human that is 100% dependant on me takes up a lot of my time (and no, I don’t just mean Steven). Since he has been home, he’s helped me out a lot, allowing me to have some time to do other things like…

Cooking

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I cannot tell you how much more enjoyable cooking is when you aren’t tied to a schedule or have a kid hanging off of your leg. Before Lock Down, I was racing around from 5 pm prepping and cooking dinner to be on the table for 6 pm (when Steven gets home from work) while simultaneously entertaining a toddler, making sure she’s safe (not climbing on the dog) and listening out for the dog destroying something. That sound is absolute silence, by the way, so that means every 5 minutes I run into the living room expecting some sort of baby toy, bib or cushion in his gob that I would then have to prise out from between his teeth. Now? Now, I offload the gremlins, I mean, adorable daughter and pooch, to Steven and can just concentrate on the cooking and enjoy it. Sometimes, I even put some music on and pour myself a glass of wine. I know, quarantine has turned me into a party animal. I just find cooking so therapeutic and I always feel like I’ve done my family a service after making them a meal. I’ve put a bit of love into that meal for them and if they eat it and don’t contract horrendous food poisoning, then that’s a pat on the back for me!

Cleaning

One thing I am thankful for in Lock Down is the fact my laundry hamper has returned to a normal level. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not empty. It’s never empty, but seeing it at an acceptable level (i.e. not spilling out onto the floor) has made me feel a little more relaxed. Normally, I can see the wash pile in the corner of the room while I lay in bed, anxious. It’s like an unwelcome spirit at the end of my bed, haunting me, reminding me. You didn’t do the laundry today. You said you were going to do it yesterday and you never did. Feel like a failure? You should! And as it gets larger and larger, I worry it gets closer and closer until one night it might be standing over me, glaring, breathing on my face. Until one night, a pair of dirty Christmas socks wrap around my neck and suffocate me in my sleep. Now THAT’S a horror story for you. But, thanks to Lock Down (and the amazing weather), I have managed to sleep at night, looking into the corner of the room and seeing, well, just a laundry basket. Ah, peace at last.
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Disney and Day Drinking

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Haven’t we all?

A beer with lunch, a bottle of wine with dinner (on a Tuesday?!), Jack Daniels for breakfast? Why not?! There are no rules in Lock Down. I will stress for ‘those people‘ amongst you, that I do not drink alcohol for breakfast. My headaches in the morning are a result of caffeine withdrawals due to my coffee addiction, not a hangover. Having said that, my coffee intake has gone up since Lock Down.

Upon the news that Steven would be home for a month, we invested in Disney+. Oh boy (as Mickey would say), is it worth it! I am a huge Disney fan anyway, but it also has all of my childhood TV shows on it. So you can bet your ‘sweet nibblets’ (if you get it, you get it) that I’m going to binge those cheesey 00’s Disney Channel shows! Not to mention, it allowed me to do a little bit of Homeschooling myself. Giving Olivia an education in Disney Classics. Everything from the princesses to the more recent Pixar movies. Is she too young? Never! Does she understand it or even watch it properly? No! But I do!

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Anyway, I’m sure there are much cooler things other people are doing with their time than I am. Please share them with me so I can live a cool life through you? Maybe you have some amazing tinder stories? Did you text your ex out of boredom? Did you stalk that girl from high school that called you fat and bullied you and you found out she’s working for her Mum as an estate agent single and alone? No? Me neither…
Maybe you did something less dramatic, like take up gardening? Maybe you became an online quiz master? Meditate? Take up Yoga? Ate everything in sight? Painted that wall you kept meaning to? Literally anything. Tell me in the comments!

How To Go Out But Stay In

Lock Down has cancelled a lot of our plans for 2020 but does that mean we still can’t do them? Well, sure you can’t go on your all inclusive holiday to Lanzarote but don’t let Lock Down tie you to your sofa!

I have thought of 4 ways you can go out without actually going out!

1. Coffee With Friends

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I love nothing more than catching up with friends over a coffee. It instantly lifts my spirits and sets my mood for the day. Before Lock Down, I would meet with one of my mummy friends every week for a walk and a coffee and have a good ol’ chit chat. We had organised a girl’s night out for a huge group of us but that got cancelled (thanks Corona) so we, instead, had a zoom chat. It was like meeting up in a cafe with the girls. We all sat at our laptops with cups of tea and coffee and giggled together. It made me so thankful for modern technology allowing us to actually see each other and talk in a big group. I left that zoom chat feeling my usual uplifted and refreshed self after seeing the girls.

2. Date Night

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I don’t know about other Mums, but I love having a date night every now and again. A little break from the little one, a chance to reconnect with my partner and, more importantly, eat something I didn’t have to cook or worry about the washing up! Well, that’s just another thing Corona has mucked up for me! So, instead, we put the baby to bed early and tried to have a date night at home!


We ordered a take away (so that took care of the cooking problem) but I didn’t want it to feel like another night on the sofa. So, we got dressed up like we would on a normal date night. I put make up on and Steven even put on after shave! I lit candles, switched on the fairy lights, laid out a blanket on the floor and dished out the take away into fancy dishes (like we were in a real restaurant) to set the scene. I even put the wine on a fancy tray. Simple, yet effective. We then sat down, watched TV and had our fancy Chinese take away picnic!

3. Boozey Lunch

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If Lock Down isn’t an excuse to day drink, then I don’t know what is! Steve and I love going to the pub at lunch time when the weather is gorgeous. Sitting outside in the sun with a cold beer and nibbles, bliss. So, when Olivia was down for her nap, I laid out some nibbles (all fancy like, so it felt like we weren’t at home) and opened up a couple of cold ones. We turned on some music and sat under our pear tree and I swear, it felt like we were on holiday!

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Even Cody wanted to join us.
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4. Trip To The Cinema


Wanted to go to the cinema with the kids? Now you’re stuck at home and the weather is horrible? 3 words: At, home, cinema. And, no I don’t mean stick a film on and sit on your sofa. What do kids love to do? Build a sofa fort! Grab bed sheets, sofa cushions, chairs, anything you can find and make a fort with your kids. Add blankets, pillows, fairy lights and snacks! Movie snacks are essential. Turn off the lights, turn on the fairy lights, sit on the floor in the fort and watch a movie with your kids. Doesn’t sound like much but you’ll be surprised how much they love it. My little girl is only 18 months and she absolutely loved it!

You could go a step further and set up a projector (you can even buy projectors for your phone). This would be so fun to do outside, too. Like a sundown cinema experience!


So, what have you done to make this Lock Down experience more bearable? Share your experiences in the comments below!

 

#MakingOverMotherhood

Next week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness week. Bit of a mouthful but nevertheless very important!

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I didn’t know anything about mental health issues after birth. I just thought, you have the baby and that’s it! You just have to cope. Anyway, how could you ever feel sad, down, depressed, angry, lost or just nothing while looking after your gorgeous baby? Oh, how I laugh now. I definitely had my fair share of all the above every now and again (and Lord knows sleep deprivation can do scary things to you) but I was lucky to not feel like this all of the time.

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So, when I saw that it is Maternal Mental Health Awareness week next week, I wanted to do something. A quick Google and I stumbled upon #MakingOverMotherhood. A social media challenge to raise awareness of Maternal Mental Health disorders and struggles. Everyday, for 5 days, post something that shows what motherhood is really like. The good, the bad and the ugly. It can be something light-hearted that might make someone chuckle or something serious and revealing. It’s up to you. The idea is to end the stigma of mental health issues for mothers.

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As Mothers, it’s very easy to feel like EVERYONE relies on you and therefore you don’t have time for yourself. You don’t have time to be weak because you’re so busy being strong for everyone else. You can’t be seen to be struggling because you might be seen as a bad Mum, a Mum who can’t cope, a lazy Mum, an incompetent Mum. You might not even notice you’re struggling because you don’t have time to take a step back and see that you are. Well, take that step. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you do. And if you notice you are, reach out. There is no shame. I truly believe that everybody struggles with something and I guarantee, you won’t be alone and you won’t be the only Mum who thinks the way you do.

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It’s so vital to get help when you need it because (as the old saying goes) you can’t pour from an empty cup. Basically, you can’t take care of others, without taking care of yourself too. Now, I don’t mean going to get your nails done every week or making sure your hair is perfect (unless that helps you feel better). I’m saying practise self care on the regular, be selfish when you need to be, reach out for help even if you think you aren’t desperate for it. Don’t feel guilty (and trust me, I am no stranger to Mum guilt) because fundamentally, you’re doing it for your kids.  You’re taking care of you so they can have the best Mother possible. A happy Mum, a calm Mum (most of the time, I mean, whistles, right?), a Mum who isn’t constantly emotionally and physically exhausted, a Mum they deserve.

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Now, I’m not saying every time you have an outburst and scream at your child about playing the baby shark song for 1098th time that day that you need to call the doctor. There are many ways you can reach out for help.
Obviously, during these times, it’s a little different. I can’t reach out to my Mum to watch Olivia for a few hours while I get some work done or just lay down in a dark room for a while. However:

  • Talk to your partner (if you have one). I cannot imagine how I would do this whole motherhood thing, without Steven by my side. I’m so lucky because he is such a good Dad and so supportive. So I know, if I ever need to, I can talk to him about my stress and if he’s home to help, I can ask him to give me a couple of hours. He will happily take Olivia and Cody (because sometimes, he causes me more stress than my human child) out for an hour long walk and give me the house to myself. I cannot tell you how blissful that is. Even if I just need to rant or cry or a cuddle or time he will give it to me. THAT is invaluable!
  • Reach out to family. I know not everyone is on par with their family but maybe you can meet some mummy friends and they can be your family. I am fortunate that my Mum absolutely adores my little girl and would do anything for her (or me). I honestly love having her one town away and I know that if I needed her, she would be here at the drop of a hat (she has done many times before). In the early days of my new adventure into motherhood, she took a week off work to come over everyday and help me with Olivia. Nothing major. She would watch Olivia while I had a shower (absolute heaven), bring me lunch everyday (I love her) and sit with me while we watched TV and chatted (priceless). She didn’t know it but all of these things meant the world to me. Especially when she made me cups of coffee, I could have cried!
  • Mummy friends. I couldn’t cope without my mummy friend, Lisa. It is so worthwhile to have that someone who gets it. Before lock down, we would grab a take away coffee and go for a walk with the babies every week and just talk. Talk about our struggles, our stresses and what crazy stuff the babies have got up to that week and it was so therapeutic. We would then laugh together at how messy our lives have become but how beautiful it all is too. I would come home and feel refreshed (not to mention caffeinated, which always helps) and like maybe I am a good Mum because I’m not alone in this, because someone else is thinking the exact same things as me!
  • Reach out to professionals. Reach out to your GP, midwife or Health Visitor. That’s what they’re there for! They are the superheroes equipped with all the resources and connections to get you the help you need!
  • Baby Buddy App is an NHS accredited app which offers evidence-based information and self-care tools to help parents during pregnancy and early stages of parenting. Best bit is it is absolutely FREE! Download in the app store or click here for more information.
  • If you are in need of immediate help or support call 999, go to A&E or call Samaritans 116 123 (free to call and it doesn’t show up on your phone bill)

Whatever you think you’re going through, whatever you think you’re struggling with, I can guarantee there’s a Mum out there going through the exact same thing. So do the right thing, reach out and talk. If not for you, for your kids.

For a pick-me-up read my Mum-tivation post!

Lock Down Help!
Lock Down Daily Routine For Toddlers
At Home Activities For Toddlers
Best Bedside Books
My Netflix List
Movies Made For Comfort

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Instagram: @charlotterose293


 

Lock Down Daily Routine For Toddlers

Here in the UK, we have been told that, as of this week, we are on lock down. This means we are to stay in our homes as much as possible and only leave for essential reasons. The introvert in me wants to celebrate but the mother in me dreads this time. How do people cope with their kids at home all day, every day. I can’t be the only one that is filled with the anxiety of the thought. Maybe this is the time we’ll be sympathetic to people who commit family massacres. Well, have no fear! I’m here too share our daily routine to make things a little more bearable during these hard times.

I always find routines (especially with children) make the day go faster, more fun and far more peaceful. Children thrive in a routine as they know what to expect to happen when (and let’s be honest, we could all use that in the uncertainty that we’re all living in now). It also ensure you can fit everything you want to into the day and be productive. I always find that being productive really helps my anxiety as my mind is distracted and it’s something small I can control during a situation that is totally out of my control.

So, here is our daily routine. My daughter is nearly 18 months old (just for reference). I hope this is helpful to you mummas right now, feel free to tweak the schedule any which way you like.

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If you don’t have a dog, you can use this time for a walk around your neighbourhood or outside play in your garden. Either way, I think it’s really important our little ones get some fresh air.

Also, you may think that is a lot of time for ‘Free Play’ but we break up this time with: singing songs, reading stories, imaginative play and I let my daughter do her own thing while I watch her and drink my morning coffee.

I hope this was helpful to you! For ideas for “Planned Activity” you can read my blog post At Home Activities For Toddlers. You could also check out Easy Easter Brownies as something else to do with your slightly older children.

Stay safe and watch this space for more content during this tough time. Stay strong mummas, click this link if you need some Mum-tivation!

Thank you for reading!


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