Another one of those touchy subjects coming up but I feel it is important to address it as so many mums suffer from it. I’m not here to start a huge debate about whether mum guilt is real because anyone who feels it will tell you it absolutely is, I simply want to tell you why I’ve chosen not to allow myself to feel it.
Firstly I don’t think it’s healthy, for either mum or baby if you are constantly worrying or feeling like you haven’t done enough, or haven’t done the right thing. No one knows what the right thing to do is most of the time, we are all winging it and sometimes it doesn’t quite go to plan and that is 100% okay.
Secondly, think of all the time and energy you are wasting by feeling consumed with guilt. Time you could have spent cuddling or playing with your child. More to feel guilty about… and so the spiral continues.
Let me tell you a few examples and reasons why I don’t entertain mum guilt:
- You need the bathroom – So you need a wee, if you put your baby down they will cry. Okay, so it’s hard to hear your baby crying but how long does it take for you go to the bathroom? Is there anything wrong with your baby in that moment and are they in any danger? Chances are the answer is no. They’re perfectly safe in their cot, fed and changed and content when you cuddle them. I promise you, they will be just fine for the 30 seconds it takes you to pee. Consider what happens if you don’t go to the bathroom for fear of the screaming. You hold it, for how long? 8 hours until your partner comes home? Do you do this everyday? Now you have a urine infection and feel like shit but you still have that little person to look after and are seriously wishing you just went to the bathroom in the first place.
- You have other children – If your new baby is not your first baby chances are your time is constantly being pulled in every direction by little people who want your attention. It’s so important to remember that they all need you but for different reasons. Maybe you put the TV on to entertain your baby whilst you helped an older child with their homework. You’ve not neglected the baby, in fact they’re probably completely captivated by the colours and sounds of the TV and they are always learning now matter what is in front of them.
- If you need to return to work – we would all love to stay home with our babies I am sure but most of the time this isn’t an option and we have to return to work in some capacity. Yes these are hours that will be spent away from your child, there isn’t really anyway around this but think about why you work? To earn a living, a salary that allows you to pay the rent or mortgage, fill your fridge with food, buy clothes for your baby, buy them toys and take them to visit places. If you didn’t work you wouldn’t be able to give your baby the quality of life you want to. It’s a sacrifice of your time but it’s for the right reasons.
- You didn’t go out today – sometimes we feel bad for staying at home too much, for not making it to the baby play group this week but in reality all your baby wants is you. They don’t care where they are as long as they are with you. You are their favourite person and favourite toy, as long as you have spent time together and played your baby will be perfectly happy. It is probably you who needs the fresh air, exercise and conversation more than your little one.
- Baby needs to go to nursery – this one is connected to returning to work, baby needs to be looked after whilst you are working and maybe your heart aches every time you leave them at the nursery door. Think about the experiences they are having, learning, playing, making friends. Nursery and child care in general can be such an amazing time for your baby and chances are you’re blubbering in the car whilst your child has forgotten all about you and is far too busy having fun.
- You were unable to breast feed – I know this one gets a lot of people and it almost got me when I had to give Amelia her first bottle of formula due to illness. Sometimes we just have our hearts set on it and it’s devastating when it doesn’t work out or you are advised against it for medical reasons. At the end of the day your baby won’t be deprived if you are unable to breast feed them. Don’t feel bad about it, or stress that you can’t give them enough, it won’t help your supply if you are continuing to work at it and babies thrive just fine on formula alone. I’ll tell you when you should feel guilty; when you leave your baby unfed and hungry. You wouldn’t do that though would you, you would give them formula before you let them go hungry so there is nothing to feel guilty about. Like I said, this one almost got me a few weeks ago. I sat there holding the bottle of made up formula not wanting to give it to her but come on a girl’s gotta eat and she drank it so fast I don’t think she even noticed any difference. She went to bed full and happy and I got over my anxiety about it.
Okay, so what am I getting at here, basically we all have to make decisions every single day that are in the best interest of our babies. Everything you do is for them so why do you feel bad because you need to make a cup of tea or you need to have a job. Being a mum is hard enough as it is without adding additional stress and I know that it is easier said then done but just try to remember that you are an incredible mum and your baby will be just fine.