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
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#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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Movies Made For Comfort

During this time, I want to help keep people’s spirits up as much as possible. Since we’re all stuck inside with more time on our hands, it’s easy to get wrapped up in this COVID-19 chaos, doom and gloom. We could all use a little mental escape and what better way than curling up on the sofa with a hot cuppa and a good movie. The type of movie that doesn’t require thought. The type of movie that transports you to a simpler time. Something that makes you smile, laugh a little and brings a little bit of light in the darkness.

I was born in the late 90s so most films I find comforting are from the 00s. They just take me back to a simpler time of watching movies on the sofa during rainy days or cinema trips with my Mum. Back when my world was a little smaller. So here are my top 10 comforting films.

1. Legally Blonde

I know, I know, super girly but this film was a constant favourite of mine as a child. Not only is the soundtrack upbeat and fun but the message is empowering. You can do anything you work hard at, despite what people say or think about you. If you keep going through all the struggles and backlash of other people, it will pay off even if no one is on your side. It’s also a good reminder to help people along your way. Elle Woods has lapses in confidence and sense of direction in her life but ,throughout it all, she is kind. She is nice to people who are continually cruel and helps anyone. I think we could all use this reminder right now.

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2. Cheaper By The Dozen

This is another one of my ‘regularly viewed’ from my childhood. I know Steve Martin can be a crowd divider but I just can’t help but love this movie. This also has an awesome soundtrack (can you tell I’m a sucker for musical montages?) and is upbeat and easy to watch. A family of 12 kids and their parents go on holiday together. What could go wrong? It’s filled with typical PG physical comedy (and some adorable kids) it will definitely give your mind a break.

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3. Bridesmaids

A CLASSIC! This film holds so many memories for me. I remember watching it in the cinema with Mum for the first time. We shared many a cinema date just us two and they were so special to me. We’d go while other kids were at school so the cinema was practically empty. It was those times it felt like we were the only people in the whole world. On our drives home we would reminisce about our favourite moments and laugh together all over again. 
I also remember watching this film after my first (and last) night out clubbing. My friends and I collapsed on my sofa and put this movie on. We kicked off our heels, got under blankets and giggled together. I’d take that over clubbing any day!

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4. Practical Magic

Another one of mine and my Mum’s favourites. I can’t remember the first time I watched this but I remember being about 7 or 8 and trying to get my spoon to stir in my cup or trying to get flower petals to fly in the wind. Maybe it was this movie that made me so wary of men? It definitely made me suspicious of a beetle’s squeak. It has everything I love wrapped up in one movie: witches, love stories, revenge, sisterhood and family. This is not just a Halloween movie. 

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5. Hocus Pocus

Staying on the witch theme. This movie is one I normally save for Halloween season but desperate times call for desperate measures. It is an absolute classic and I think I know this movie word for word. It’s one for the whole family and really puts me in a cosy mood. And, yes you guessed it, it has a musical number that I recreated in my bedroom when I was 8. As a kid, I wanted to be Sarah. The funny one, the one who wore purple and the one who all the boys liked, lol! Not sure that happened for me. Sorry 8 year old me!

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6. Christmas With The Coopers

From one holiday to the next. Yes! A Christmas film. Even though it’s spring, I see no harm in recreating the ambience of Christmas. Christmas just seems to be a happier time for me, a cosy time and I can’t help but feel safe in a way. I know that’s not the case for some but it’s a time I really treasure. This film in particular is humbling and beautiful. Not to mention it has an incredibly cute dog. It’s just one happy reminder to love your family, even if they drive you mental or aren’t perfect themselves. So if you’re in quarantine with your family and need a little convincing to love them, this is the movie for you.
P.S in other countries this movie is called ‘Love the Coopers’

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7. The Mask

My friends and I used to watch this round my house all the time. Jim Carrey is a true talent. This was the first movie I saw that combined live filming with animation. I think  this was my first Jim Carrey movie too and it sparked my love for his work. Like all good movies, it has an excellent dog in it too! Oh, and a musical dance number or two!

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8. Bad Moms

This is a perfect time for every Mother in isolation with their kids to watch this. This movie always reminds me that it is okay to not be the perfect parent. The most important things you can give to your kids are love and happy memories. Spend time with them, listen to them, teach them things they will need in life like how to apologise or take care of their mental health. Show them how to unwind, be a good person and just be kids. This movie also highlights the different types of Mothers out there and that it’s okay if you don’t iron your kids underwear like Becky down the road or have 15 million colour coded worksheets. If you’re a good person, you’re a good Mum.

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9. Wine Country

This is more of a recent discovery of mine. It’s about a group of friends going on a weekend break together for one of them is turning 50. They go on a girls trip and tour vineyards but it gets a little messy. They show getting older as something to look forward to and true friendship as something to treasure. I can only hope that my life looks a little like this when I turn 50.

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So there we go, they are the top 9 films I find comforting. I hope they give you some comfort too. Now, please remember this is personal opinion. You may not agree but please feel free to share some of your favourite and comforting movies!

Stay safe. Be kind.