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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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.

My Morning Timeline (1)

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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At Home Activities For Toddlers

With all the chaos of the Corona Virus, a lot of people are isolated at home with little ones. While this seems stressful, this is the perfect opportunity to have some fun! I thought I would create a post with some ideas of what to do with your little ones during this time.

Also, sorry for the silence recently! I spent the weekend in Wales for my best friend’s wedding and had an absolutely amazing time!

The following activities are really simple and you probably have everything you need to do all of these. No need to venture out. While all of these activities are simple, children should be supervised at all times.

1. Paper Chutes

These are super easy to make. You could even use the toilet paper tubes that you’ve bulk bought in panic. I used craft card because I didn’t.
All you need to do is tape the paper tubes to a free wall (I used the back of a door) and show your little one how to drop balls into them. If you have any ball-pit balls, these would be perfect. We don’t, so we used play fruit! Get creative! You could use balled up socks, tennis balls or even pompoms!

For older children, you could colour code the tubes and get them to sort different coloured pompoms into them to help them learn their colours.

2. Indoor Croquet

For this you will need: craft card, tape and scissors.
Cut strips of card long enough so small balls can pass through them when you bend them. Fold the ends over and tape to the floor. Little ones can have fun pushing the balls through the arches and older children can play a game with points or use things to hit the balls through.

3. Feet Painting

This is my personal favourite (although probably the messiest). We have a huge roll of paper bought from IKEA but you can use craft paper taped together or old wrapping paper. Dip your little ones’ feet in paint and let them walk across the paper. Older kids could try and spell their name with their feet or make pictures! Fair warning, you’ll have a lot of cleaning up to do!

4. Kitchen Messy Play

My little girl is still too small to help me in the kitchen or do baking together but we love to do kitchen messy play to introduce her to it. Olivia has a play kitchen so we gathered some of the play pots and pans, some rice, pasta and flour, measuring spoons and small toys to use.

I keep this big Tupperware  box of messy play in the cupboard so we can get it out to use any time. We scoop flour into different pots using spoons and mix dry pasta and rice in bowls.

5. Water Play

This is an obvious one but this is my daughter’s favourite! Water play can be messy but you can use this to your advantage! Sometimes, I like to make a washing up bowl of warm soapy water and get Olivia to help me clean her plastic toys. She thinks it is a lot of fun and it gets them clean! Otherwise, the usual things are fun in water: her plastic tea set, measuring spoons, play pots and pans, etc.

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Make it extra soapy and play with the bubbles!

6. Other Ideas

Just because you’re in isolation, doesn’t mean you can’t leave the house. Play in the garden and get muddy, plant flowers, go to the park, have a picnic lunch in your garden or paint the fences with water (you’ll be amazed how entertained kids are by this). Remember to pull together in these times. Help a neighbour, look out for those who can’t get out, text that Mother that is home alone with all the kids. Show some support.

Top tip! Everyday, put on some music and dance with your kids. It’ll cure boredom, lift spirits and give a little laughter which is something that is priceless in times like this.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Make the best of the rain for the storm will pass.


Thanks for reading!
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You Can’t Bubble Bath and Candle Your Way To Self Love

After the devistating news of Caroline Flack hit the media this week, my social media has been bombarded with #BeKind and Self love content. I would like to clarify I 100% support the #BeKind movement however a lot of content advising people about self love is unhelpful.
As I scroll through my feeds, I see beautifully illustrated posters informing people how to achieve self love like: have a bubble bath, light your favourite candle, make a cup of tea, meditate, drink water and get some sleep. While this is all very good advice for SELF CARE, this will not help you achieve SELF LOVE.

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Self love is accepting yourself for who you are. No exceptions. It’s the art of being kind to yourself. I say an art because it’s more of a skill than you think. Everyone has that voice in their head telling them “You’re not good enough” or “Why are you so pathetic?” or even “You don’t deserve to be happy” and some voices might be louder than others. Self love is recognising that voice and turning your thoughts around. It’s harder than you think because we have such a nasty habbit of being cruel to ourselves. We would never say these things to someone in real life (I hope) or if we heard someone saying this to somebody else we would think it was incredibly cruel, so why do we talk to ourselves in this way?

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As someone who struggles with these voices (some days are louder than others), I am trying my hardest to turn them around. I’ve noticed they come more frequently since becoming a mother. I think this is because being a good Mum is so incredibly important to me. I constantly think, as long as I’m a good Mum, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter if I’m struggling, it doesn’t matter if I haven’t had 10 seconds to myself and it doesn’t matter if people judge me for being a stay-at-home Mum (and boy do they!). This means, as soon as Olivia has an ‘off’ day or is grumpy, I instantly hear those voices. “You’re a rubbish Mum”, “You can’t do anything right”, “You’re her Mum and you can’t even make her happy”. This is when I have to stop my train of thought, notice I’m being harsh on myself and turn it around. “You’re not a rubbish Mum, she’s clean and healthy. You’re doing fine”, “There are kids much worse off than she is”, “She’s just having a grumpy moment, it’s nothing you’ve done”.

It’s hard to reverse bad habits as anyone who has tried to quit smoking, cut out sugar or stop biting your nails, knows. It’s even harder to reverse bad mental habits. Especially when you don’t even notice them happening.

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A lot of these voices can be prompted from Social Media. Seeing perfectly sculpted and airbrushed models and comparing your body or seeing that person’s ‘perfect’ life and comparing yours, can make you feel fat and ugly or like your life is a mess or not good enough. One woman you should follow to break up your ‘perfect’ feed and inject it with realness and self love is Chessie King! She promotes a lot of body confidence, healthy habbits, self love and anti-bullying. She is such an inspiration on how to keep smiling through this messy life and enjoy it! She is planning her wedding at the moment so I’m loving watching her process on how to enjoy wedding planning rather than getting stressed. Not to mention she recently became a Doula too. She’s just incredible.
So definitely follow @chessiekingg on Instagram!

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Chessie King @chessiekingg on Instagram

 

So please remember to #BeKind to others but also remember it’s equally important to #BeKind to yourself!

Images taken from Pinterest.

Super Easy Valentine Crafts To Do With Your Kids

Simple and fun crafts to do with your little ones.

These are all really easy and simple, fun crafts to do. All of the following activites have no more than 6 steps and you probably already have everything you need to do them in your home. 

I love doing holiday crafts and as my daughter gets older, I look forward to being able to do more crafts with her. I have very fond memories of sitting at my dining table with my Mum doing different crafts throughout my childhood and I hope to give my daughter the same memories. I am also hoping that doing themed crafts will get Olivia excited about holidays just like me. 

Here are some of the crafts we did this week and some I hope you can have fun with your kids too.

Valentine Card

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This is one of the easiest cards to make with your baby or toddler and it looks so good. It’s perfect to keep as a momento and is super fast to make during painting time.

What you will need:

  • Blank greetings card
  • Craft card
  • Tape
  • Finger paint

Method

  1. Cut out a heart shape out of craft paper.
  2. Using tape, attach the cut out shape to the center of a blank greeting card. This can be done by folding the tape against itself to create a piece of double sided tape.
  3. Let your baby/toddler fingerpaint over the shape and on the card. You can use paint brushes, sponge stamps, paint rollers or simply their hands.
  4. Before the paint drys, carefully remove the shape and tape from the greeting card and leave to dry.

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LOVE Canvas Art

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I really loved making this. Not only is it a perfect gift for Valentine’s but it’s also a great decor piece for your home. Is there anything better than having your baby’s hand and footprints to look at years later when they’ve all grown up?

What you will need:

  • Blank canvas
  • Finger paint
  • Acrylic paint/sharpie

Method

  1. Mark out on your canvas where you would like the handprint and footprints to go.
  2. Paint your baby’s hand and gently press it onto the canvas.
  3. Paint your baby’s feet and gently press them onto the canvas in a V shape.
  4. Draw out the L and E and, once you’re happy with them,  go over it with black paint or a sharpie (I used a black felt tip and a fine liner to go around the edges of the letters).

Hanging Paper Hearts

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These are so simple! This is probably something to do with slightly older children but they sure do brighten up the place. You can hang them on banisters, door handles or even a small decorative tree or branch. I have hung them on my ugly serving hatch as we’re having it patched up at the moment before we remove it and redo the whole wall! For now it will hang these paper hearts.

What you will need:

  • Coloured craft card (I used pink and red)
  • Stapler
  • Scissors
  • String

Method

  1. Cut coloured paper of various lengths and widths. I started with red strips of 2cmx21cm to create the chain of hearts.
  2. Fold strips equally in half.
  3. With the fold at the bottom, bend the ends together to make a heart shape and staple together. If you want to make a chain, tuck the fold of the next heart in between the edges of the first.
  4. If you are making a nest of hearts, join all edges of hearts together, bend and staple all together with one end of a piece of string in between.

You could even use the chain method to make a wreath or a long paper chain to wrap around your banister or hang on your mantle. 

Woollen Heart Garland

I love how this turned out! Again, this is probably something to do with older children (or by yourself like I did) but it looks so cute. I did different sized hearts along the garland just because I thought it was pretty but you could do the same sizes, different coloured hearts or even different shapes like stars!

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What you will need:

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Stapler/tape
  • Red wool

Method

  1. Cut out several heart shapes from the card board (or double up craft card).
  2. Staple the end of the red wool to the heart.
  3. Randomly wrap the red wool around the cardboard shape until no cardboard is shown.
  4. Secure the end of the wool by tying it off or using a stapler.
  5. Repeat the above until all shapes are covered.
  6. Measure out desired length of wool and attach the hearts in equal lengths.
I hope that you try some of these crafts. If you do, please take a picture and tag me in it so I can see your creations! 
I will shortly be uploading a Valentine Treats post so keep your eye out for that!

 

I am the owner and creator of all images in this post.

Olivia’s 1st Birthday

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So, my baby turned one year old this week. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d feel the way I did. I thought I would be excited to throw my little girl her first ever birthday party and have a great time with friends and family, creating a memory that would last a life time. I did not see it this way.

Instead, the week leading up to her birthday, filled me with dread, heart ache and reminiscence. I couldn’t believe that a year ago I was holding this precious, tiny baby that was all mine and depended on me for everything. Now, she crawls around the house at speed, wants to feed herself and doesn’t need me to rock her to sleep at night. I felt like time was already slipping through my fingers and I wanted it to slow down. I got quite down about it, to the point where I didn’t want to throw her a party but the fear of regret forced me to power through.

I teared up in the middle of HobbyCraft buying decorations, I cried putting up pictures of her monthly milestones and the night before, I laid in bed thinking back to my labour I was in a year ago. The first time I saw her face.  I sobbed like a baby. I felt ridiculous. “She’s only 1! It’s only the first year of many. I have 17 more! Oh… I only have 17 more. This last one went so quick and let’s face it, she’s not going to want me to throw her birthday parties when she’s a teenager so maybe I only have 12 at most?” is what I thought to myself. It was that moment I realised, I’m not going to have many chances to throw her birthday parties so I need to grab every opportunity and go all out!

We had a party at our house and only invited family (as that is all we could fit in our house). I would have loved to invite all our friends too and have Olivia surrounded by as many people that love her as possible but we struggled for room as it was. I decorated the whole of the downstairs, the day before. As well as baked cupcakes and a separate cake for Olivia to destroy. I even made a fondant duck, as we have a bit of an obsession at the moment, in hopes it would encourage her to destroy the cake. I spent 4 hours cooking and preparing party food and organising how to display it (I’m a bit OCD when it comes to parties).

So, the big day arrived. I felt fine. Steven got Olivia out of bed in the morning and we all sat in our bed talking about the day ahead and then he hands me a card. I assumed it was for Olivia but he said it was for me. Puzzled, I opened it and on the front was a picture of all of us and the words ‘Happy Birth Day’. Upon opening the card, I couldn’t stop the floods of tears as I read the words ‘Thank you for being such a good Mum’. Any Mum out there knows, there’s nothing more rewarding than someone telling you, you’re a good Mum or that you’re doing a good job because that’s all you hope for and you don’t really know if you’re doing a good enough job for your little ones. So there you go, my plan to hold it all together was thrown out of the window before 9am.

Afterwards, we took Olivia downstairs to show her the present from us. The night before, Steven and I had spent the evening building an IKEA play kitchen so she could play with it the morning of her birthday. It filled us with joy to see she immediately was smiling and trying to open the doors and move the tap.

The party started after Olivia’s nap and afternoon bottle. Soon, the house was filled with family and a serious amount of presents for Olivia. She was very spoilt. I loved seeing people’s faces when they saw Olivia. She just lights up a room and makes everyone smile. Everyone wanted to hold her and speak to her and as a Mum you can only hope that she continues to be surrounded by such love.

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After opening presents, we stripped her down to her vest and sat her on the dining table. We sang happy birthday (which she hated as she is not a fan of group singing) and let her go to town on her birthday cake. I’m so glad I decided to do this because the pictures are ones I will treasure forever. She was in her element (she’s more like her mother than I thought) grabbing chunks of cake and eating them, making a mess and just enjoying herself.

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One of the many lessons I’ve learnt this past year of being a Mum is how to sacrifice your own feelings to make your children happy. I know this was only a small thing, a birthday party, but it’s made me more comfortable to do the best for her and create as many happy memories for her as possible, even if it breaks my heart. In the end, seeing her happy will mend it again.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart xxx

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Thank you for reading!

I am the owner and creator of all images in this post.