By: Natasha Archary
Mommy guilt – the niggly, nagging inner voice that leaves you second guessing every decision you make as a mom and has the ability to eat you alive.
From the moment you first hold your baby in your arms, an array of emotions surge through your chemical makeup – pride, love, fear, happiness and, yes guilt. As of this moment, everything you ever do, or don’t do for this little being you brought into the world will be your fault, for all eternity. No pressure! At least that’s what it feels like.
Often referred to as “mom-guilt” – because moms have a tendency to berate themselves – it is however something that dads go through as well. It comes with the territory of raising a child.
There are an infinite number of things that could cause guilt as a parent:
- You bottle fed
- You didn’t breastfeed long enough
- You didn’t bond with your child immediately
- You went back to work too soon
- You stayed home to take care of your baby and sacrificed your career for your family
- You put your baby in daycare or left her with a nanny
- You didn’t prepare your baby’s food from scratch/ you don’t cook your family’s meals
- You chose disposable nappies
- You’re a single parent
- You opted for the cry-it-out method
- You rocked your baby to sleep
- You let them soothe themselves
- You chose a pacifier to help soothe them
- You co-sleep
- Your baby sleeps in her cot, by herself, from day one
- You take your child to the playground, but it’s hot out and you forgot the sunscreen
- You take your child to the playground, but it cold out and you forgot the hats, gloves and jacket
- Your child doesn’t play well with other children and you wonder if he picked up your anti-social behaviour
- You’re raising an only child and society tells you to plan No.2 or your child will grow up spoilt
- You’re raising multiple children and you’re afraid you’re not giving each one individual attention
- You work too much
- Not being able to afford all the extras
- You lose your patience and snap or yell at your kids – possibly the biggest guilt inducer for parents (bigger than working & missing school events)
- You use TV as a baby-sitter
And the list just goes on and on, as the years go by expect to add hundreds of other reasons to feel guilty as a parent. Escaping the guilt is near impossible, so why not embrace it?
Parents today feel they should be focused on their children like a laser beam, so when they do take a moment for themselves, they feel they’re being neglectful and irresponsible. For many moms (dads too), coffee with a friend or even a shower can be enough to ignite feelings of guilt.
You’ve probably heard this before and it’s true: A happy mom makes for a happy baby/child. If your basic needs aren’t being met you will wear yourself out and be an unhappy, grumpy mess.
Bottom line: every time you go out for a girl’s night, sleep in on a Sunday or get a manicure, you’re doing your family a favour.
Sure you could always be more organized, more cheerful, more on top of every detail. But you’re not a mom-bot, and thank heavens for that because no one expects you to be but you! Accept that there will be days when you may not have it all together, you’re only human.
Try these principles for guilt-free parenting:
- You must be willing to let some things go
- Parenting is not a competitive sport
- Look toward the future and at the bigger picture – basically don’t sweat the small stuff
- Learn to live in the moment
- Laugh a LOT, especially with your children
- Stop striving for perfection
- Stop judging yourself – your best is good enough
It’s time to turn in the Supermom cape and acknowledge that love is the only requirement to raising happy, healthy and responsible kids. Besides, there’s a theory that if you sometimes feel like a horrible parent, it is a sign that you’re not. Mom guilt is a sign that you care. It means that you love your children and you want to do such an amazing job at raising them that you fall into the guilt trap of obsessing and striving for a level of perfection.
There’s that word again. Society has set the parenting bar ridiculously high and today’s pressures and expectations of motherhood are unachievable at best. It’s time to stop beating yourself up about beating yourself up. Embrace the guilt, make it your friend and use it as a reminder of just how much you love your little ones.