GUILT FREE GOALS, MUM GUILT

HELLO 2022- GOODBYE MUM GUILT

Mum guilt will never leave us alone, no matter what we do. If we work to make a better life for our children, we feel guilty we aren’t around enough, if we stay home dedicating all our time and attention to them, we feel guilty we can’t afford to give them what everyone else has. 

We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

But why should we feel guilty for pursuing our own interests and having a life of our own?

Going to work to progress our careers or make money, is part of Proactive Parenting and essential to a healthy, balanced life. Working helps us to increase our own self-esteem and confidence and gives us much needed goals.

And daily U Time for ourselves to join the gym, have a bath, read a book, enjoy a glass of wine or massage, go out for a meal or for a manicure, or pursue a hobby or course, is essential to our overall wellbeing.

Life is not just about working or raising a family. We get one life and fun should be a part of it.

A GUILTY BUSINESS

Yet, being a parent can be a guilty business if we let it. It’s usually the most loving parents amongst us who experience it the most. If only we could extend that love onto ourselves more often than guilt?

And if only our children felt this guilty whenever they woke us up in the middle of the night for no reason, or whenever they humiliated us with a tantrum in a busy supermarket. But they don’t. (You can read my latest article on managing tantrums –BIG Little Feelings, in the Winter edition of mums and tots magazine on sale now.)

A NICE STYLE

No parent ever wants to see their child upset, and our children know this and can be very clever and creative in instilling us, with a guilty complex. So too can our boss, spouse, and even our own parents.

 It’s a technique, and each will have their own style;

  •  An angry style, ‘It’s all your fault!’
  •  A feeling sorry for themselves, ‘It’s all my fault.’
  • Or the subtle style, done in a nice, yet underhanded way.

My daughter had a nice style. Instead of risking a ‘no’ and asking me outright for whatever she wanted, she nicely instiled guilt before-hand.

Such as the time she said to me;

‘Oh, Mum can you…? Oh, never mind, it doesn’t matter.’

‘What?’ I asked, intrigued, in the middle of doing something else.

‘Well, I was going to ask if you would paint my nails, but I know you’re too busy and I don’t want to take up your time when you could be doing something more important.’

Horrified by her words, I instantly dropped what I was doing and happily painted all of her little fingernails, as I explained that I was never too busy to do anything for her.

In fact, I told her I enjoyed doing it.

It was only later as I guiltily mulled it over with my husband, that I realized I had nothing to feel guilty about. 

He pointed out to me that my daughter knew exactly what she was doing, and that what she said would make me feel guilty enough to do what she wanted me to do.

I’d fallen for the guilt trip, even though I’d done her nails for her and had nothing to feel guilty about, yet, I was still carrying those words ‘Too busy’ with me, while indulging in my guilty complex hours later.

AN ENDLESS LIST

Mums feel guilty about almost anything and everything.

Guilty about working, not working, spending money on yourself, having a childfree night out, putting your child in childcare, saying ‘No’ to your child when they want something, telling them off/being too strict or too soft, not being able to afford the Christmas presents they want, choosing the wrong school, Mum/Dad for them, living in the wrong area, not taking them out on day trips/holidays or spending enough quality time with them, not realizing they were ill/being bullied/underachieving at school, making them do homework, not being able to make their school sports day/Christmas concert, etc…etc…

Boring I know, but that guilty list is endless as a parent.

Feel free to carry on with your own long list, if you feel in the mood for making yourself feel like an awful parent.

In fact, you may find this exercise cathartic, even funny, who knows, let’s try it? 

GUILTY RUBBISH

  • Grab a pen and notebook and a cuppa while you’re indulging in some guilty ‘U Time’.
  • Now, list as many things that you either have or have not done for your child, or about your role as a parent, as you can manage in the space of five minutes that makes you feel guilty.
  • Think of everything that pricks at your conscience, tugs at your heartstrings, or tickles you as much as a bash on your funny bone. Go on, indulge in your guiltiness until you feel really bad. Let all that guilt flow, get it all out of you, out of your head and onto paper.
  • And then …. rip that lists up into tiny pieces and let it all go.  Throw it away with all the other useless rubbish in the bin. Make sure you put it in the rubbish bin and not the recycling though; you don’t want it coming back in some other form one day. You want it out of your life for good, out where it belongs with the rest of the rubbish, in the refuse dump until it disintegrates.

GUILTY BUSTER

Guilt’s a waste of time and an emotion that’s draining. Instead, channell your energy into doing something to resolve issues that cause you guilt.

Start by trying this next guilt busting exercise;

  • Think of the thing that makes you feel guilty. For example, not reading a story to your child before bedtime.
  • Ask yourself how long and how often have you spent your time feeling guilty about not doing it?
  • And how long are you going to continue feeling guilty and punishing yourself over it?
  • Then ask yourself why you just don’t do it in the first place?

You may find the reason for not doing something that’s making you feel guilty is lack of time?

Therefore, it may be just as quick, and feel a lot better, to just do the very thing, that you have no time to do, rather than waste the time and energy feeling guilty about not doing it.

YOU NEED U TIME.

We all need time and space away from our children occasionally, to feel refreshed and able to cope with their everyday demands. Whether that’s a night out with friends or a weekend away with our partner.

The truth is, even if we could give them a hundred hours a day, it wouldn’t be enough. Their need for our time and attention is insatiable, and can never be constantly met, no matter how hard we try or how much time we dedicate to them.

It’s not selfish to satisfy our own needs or do what we have to do to provide the best life for our family. It’s the one thing that prevents us feeling resentment. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children.

CHILDREN NEED U TIME TOO!

We never need to feel guilty, as children also need U Time for themselves too.

Time with their own thoughts to play, ponder, and daydream is vital.

So, what? Maybe you do work more than most building a career or business to support you family or dreams, or maybe you choose to stay home and bake cakes all day with your little ones. It’s your life, it’s your choice, and neither one is right or wrong.

2022 marks the beginning of a new guiltless way of living, where we stop punishing ourselves. It’s time to realise your value and what you contribute, rather than focusing on what’s missing or wrong. Guilt just doesn’t serve us or our children, so we don’t need it sucking our energy any longer.

Happy New Year Muma, 2022 is for you!

Stay proactive,

Em x

Behaviour, CHILDMINDING, MUM GUILT, Proactive Parenting, U Time, WORKING PARENTS

WORKING FROM HOME- PARENTING GUILT

As a childminder I can relate to this mum guilt. Both of my children were born into my childminding business so from day one they had to share me with other babies and children.

MUM GUILT

I suffered from this- ‘mum guilt’ constantly, especially when my children became older and more independent as, they could see me every day caring for babies and other people’s children and I felt they mustn’t have felt special, as I tried to treat all the children equally. So, if another child wanted to play with my childrens toys, in their house, my children were encouraged to share. Sharing your toys with other children is tough enough when you are a baby or toddler but it’s harder sharing your Mum. When they can see you spending your time and energy doing other things or on others, and not putting your attention on them, they can feel unimportant.  

That’s how I can relate to all those working parents who now have to adapt to working from home, whilst also caring for their children. Multitasking the two is very difficult to say the least. When we are visible but inaccessible to our children, it’s like saying to them that they’re lower down on our list of priorities or second best to whatever else has captured our attention.

WORKING FROM HOME

While we are physically around them, they can actually see what is more important to us at that time other than them. Whether it’s working on the computer, taking phone calls, Zooming a meeting or writing up that report, at that moment, they are not as important to us as the thing or the person we are currently occupied with. Most young children don’t understand that we have to work, or even what work really is for, they just physically see us occupied elsewhere, so they do all they can to make us conscious by demanding our full attention, any way they can.  Usually this is seen as misbehaving and we tell them off, adding to our guilt further. But at these challenging times you should go easy on yourself, no one can expect you to do the same job as you would at work while caring for your child, and the bottom line is, none of this is you or your child’s fault so try to enjoy this time together as much as you can.

If you make them feel involved while you are working, you’ll get more done than constantly fighting off their attempts at vying for your attention. If you have to write that report for your boss, give your child some paper and crayons and ask them to write a report with you and  turn it into a fun game, they wont notice you are distracting them if they are enjoying the distraction in your company. When we include them, we are not multitasking them if they are involved and enjoying the process, so let’s get them involved.

Most people can do what we do, with the exception of being a parent to our child. All these things that keep us busy seem important at the time, but it doesn’t matter what we have or achieve in life—it’s all a waste of time. It’s who we are with and the time we give that counts in the end!

Luckily, my children never got jealous (that I know of anyway?) they always felt involved and they have embraced all the children I’ve cared for over the past sixteen years as part of their family, even referring to some as bothers and sisters, but I feared it could have gone the other way too and they could have ended up resenting the other children or me, for the business I chose to be in, ironically to be ‘there’ for my kids.

But over the years I’ve reasoned that there were lots of benefits also for my children, and had I gone out to work commuting and working late and not around at all, equally they would have felt neglected. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. All parents worry or feel anxious on a daily basis (more so now while we are faced with the Coronavirus, Covid-19 pandemic).

That’s why I created my Guilty Buster and The Worry Buster Technique exercises in my books, to address guilt and worry. So whenever I was feeling the- ‘Mum guilt’ -I would do the following exercise, one is from book one.

And the other from book 2.

GUILTY BUSTER

Guilt is a waste of time and an emotion that’s draining. Instead, we are better off channelling our energy into doing something to resolve issues that cause us guilt.

We can start by trying this guilt busting exercise and writing our answers down;

  • Think of the thing that makes you feel guilty. For example, not reading a story to your child before bedtime.
  • Ask yourself how long and how often have you spent your time feeling guilty about not doing it?
  • And how long are you going to continue feeling guilty and punishing yourself over it?
  • Then ask yourself why you just don’t do it in the first place?

You may find the reason for not doing something that’s making you feel guilty is lack of time?

Therefore, it may be just as quick, and feel a lot better, to just do the very thing, that you have no time to do, rather than waste the time and energy feeling guilty about not doing it.

  • Make a list of anything and everything that is making you feel guilty right now and go through each thing on your list and try and turn it into your guilty pleasure. Ask yourself what good reasons can you find for doing/not doing it?

For example, you may feel guilty because you have to work and miss playing with your child.

But your good reason for working is to pay the bills and buy your child the experiences and things they need to grow and develop.

Maybe you feel guilty over a long soak in the bath or reading a book in peace alone?

But you can reassure yourself that time away from your child is exactly what you need to relax and be you again. Giving you the chance to miss them and enjoy their company more when reunited afresh.

This exercise can help you to understand that to regain your sense of self, you need this guilty pleasure.

As a consequence of using your time to do things you want to do, you will feel happier, making you a calmer, more content and relaxed parent.

We all need time and space away from our children occasionally if only to feel refreshed and able to cope with their everyday demands.

The truth is, even if we could give them a hundred hours a day, it would never be enough. Our children’s need for our time and attention is insatiable, and can never be constantly met, no matter how hard we try or how much time we dedicate to them.

It’s not selfish to satisfy our own needs or do what we have to do to provide the best life for our family. It’s the one thing that prevents us feeling resentment toward our children for taking up all our time and energy. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children. 

THE WORRY BUSTER TECHNIQUE

  • First, think about something that is worrying you at this moment regarding your child.
  • Now, write down all the reasons why it is worrying you, and note how worrying about it has helped the situation or how it has made it worse.
  • Then, work out how long you have been worrying about it, and decide how much longer you want to keep on worrying about it.
  • Next, write a list of all the possible ways that you can try to help solve the problem or make it less of a worry. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can think of, regardless of how unrealistic they may sound at first.
  • Now, choose one way that you can take action on the problem today.
  • Finally, go and take some action and do something to change the situation now.

Can’t find a solution right now?

Then just decide to relax and step back and accept, for now, the way things are.

Clear your mind of the problem and do something else until a solution comes to mind. Busy yourself with chores or exercise and let the solution bubble away in the back of your mind unhindered by you.

You’ve proactively looked at the issue by doing the ‘Worry Busting Technique’.  Now the only thing you can change is to stop worrying about something you cannot change because if there is nothing you can do about it, then why waste time and energy worrying?

SHARE YOUR LOCK DOWN PARENTING PROBLEMS & EXPERIENCES

Worrying will not help or change anything. After all, most of what we worry about never actually happens anyway, and if we are doing all that we can do right now, then there is no need to worry about anything else.

I hope these simple exercises will help you at this difficult time, as much as they have helped me and the countless other parents that I have worked with in the past in overcoming guilt and worry.

Thanks to those of you that have emailed me for sharing your thoughts on Lock down and parenting, please keep your stories and experiences coming in so I know what to blog about each week that will be most beneficial at this time.

 You can email me;

emma@happychildcare.club

Stay Present, Stay Safe,

Em x

Photo’s by Joshua Eckstein  Vicky Summer  NeONBRAND  Picsea and  Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash