This is sponsored content, in partnership with Haliborange
If ever there are two words that make me shudder, it’s ‘Mum Guilt’.
It’s a phrase we hear daily, thanks to the modern-day culture of oversharing on social media. But, unlike many made up phrases that are launched by influencers desperate to ‘go viral’, mum guilt is a very real thing.
Recent research by Haliborange shows that 95 per cent of mums in the UK, with young children aged between three and eleven, feel mum-guilt regularly.
For many of us, it starts with the moment that that little line appears on the pregnancy test. Of course, you don’t notice it until you’ve done a couple more tests to double check that it’s not a mistake, but if you’re anything like I was, I slipped without even noticing into ‘am I going to be good enough?’ mindset.
From that moment on, there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t second-guessed myself, or worried that I’ve not done enough. It feels like that’s the norm of motherhood these days too. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Haliborange, it was revealed that over two thirds (64 per cent) of mums feel ‘mum guilt’ makes them feel like they are not living up to the perfect parent, as we all try and work out how we can be better.
Why do we feel this guilt?
Why do we feel this guilt? Is it because we’ve been subjected to the ever growing pool of perfect-parent-influencers, who spend their time creating bespoke Insta-worthy breakfasts for their little darlings, while you’re just trying to get your kids to eat the bloody banana while simultaneously wiping yogurt from the neckline of their school jumper? Is it because yet again you forgot to put the washing machine on the night before and you don’t have clean socks for them and typically the only pair you can find are the ones with the holes in the heel. That will have something to do with it, right?
But then there is the plethora of motherhood ‘advice’ out there, that comes thick and fast before you’ve even given birth. We’re bombarded with information about how our parenting decisions will affect our kids for the rest of their lives constantly. Breast is best, but Fed is Best too. Do baby led weaning but don’t let them choke. Don’t give them screens, don’t shout, don’t helicopter parent, don’t cosleep… the list is endless.
Of course, this information is often important and comes from a good place. But you know, when your sanity is hanging by a thread, back-to-back Bluey on the iPad is exactly what everyone needs in that moment (or hour…). We need five minutes breather to reset our brain that spins with the motherload of everything that we need to do, demands we need to meet, and the constant commentary we’re subjected to by small people oblivious of the pressures of day-to-day life. I’ll come back to that later.
Sadly, I’m told on good authority, you will always feel THE GUILT. Even when they are at school. Even when they go to university. EVEN WHEN THEY ARE PARENTS THEMSELVES. And in a recent survey, it turns out there’s not just mum guilt, but there’s types of mum guilt too.
Fifty Shades of Mum Guilt
I spend a lot of time feeling guilty for not spending more time with my kids. In Haliborange’s survey, they found that 95 per cent of mums feel the same. But no matter how hard we try to get some semblance of balance, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to meet everyone’s needs and not turn into some sort of mothering Stepford Wife in the process.
There are so many different ways we feel guilt on a daily basis: Have we offered the right foods today (I assume a packet of Wotsits and a KitKat aren’t in the top 10 Best Snacks To Give Your Kid Mumsnet roundup), or provided the right amount of crafting stimulus, or run through enough words and sounds and phonics with them today?
The Challenge of Staying Present
Even when you are all in one room, juggling a haphazard lob of peas into pan of pasta for that failsafe “It’s green, ergo it’s good for them” tea, while simultaneously trying to focus on your child’s super important and definitely urgent telling on how Spiderman came into their bedroom last night and rescued them fro tidying their bedroom, ask yourself – are you really present? Like, ‘present’ present, not half in half out with a list of shopping and work tasks running through your head at the same time. I know I’m not. I mean, I’m there, and present in person, but like 44 per cent other parents, I worry that I’m not present enough. Present. Boom! Mum guilt hits you up the bum again. Cheers.
Comparison is the thief of joy and bringer of guilts
Now comes the cracker – the comparison thief. Whether you are doom scrolling on Instagram, or bump into that mum who always has her shiz together at the school gates, you find yourself feeling that creeping wave of comparison and suddenly all the stuff you juggle, all the peas in the pasta, all the Spidey information you have gleaned for the last four years comes crashing down. Your ears ring with ‘YOU SHOULD BE MORE LIKE HER’ and the guilt gnaws away at your belly reminding you that you just aren’t up to scratch and you should be better at this motherhood lark. Well, if that’s you – you are one of 54% of parents who also fear the comparison guilt. And it’s hard to remember that someone else’s little snapshot of life, whether online or at the school gates, is only one slice of their actual reality.
Let’s break the cycle and stop the guilt!
The worst thing about mum guilt is that it really takes it’s toll on us. The endless cycle of worry and guilt is not a good feeling, is it? We feel it emotionally, and physically too. For me, it’s utterly overwhelming at times and leaves me feeling like the joy is being sucked out of motherhood.
Let’s break the cycle of mum guilt. Mums need to unite everywhere and say enough is enough! We’re not taking this on anymore. And more than that, we’re not only ditching mum guilt, we’re going to flip it and embrace Parent Pride.
That’s exactly what Haliborange are encouraging us – ALL parents – to do. But how do we really stop when it’s been ingrained in us for so long? Here’s a couple of suggestions:
Give yourself a proud pat on the back
It doesn’t matter what it is. Perhaps everyone just survived this week, which I guess is the bare minimum, right? Let’s celebrate it with a pat on the back and a big well done to ourselves. We’re proud of ourselves!
Perhaps the kids have done well at school? 74 per cent of parents admit that they feel pride when their child is doing well at school – so well done, that’s another proud pat on the back. Do your kids have friends? Hurrah! Another thing to be proud of, along with 69 per cent of parents who also feel pride when they see their child playing nicely together with friends.
If you are one of the 69 per cent of other parents who feel a sense of happiness and pride when you all sit and eat dinner together, then you win the double award because God only knows, when you are catering to kids who barely crack a smile for anything more than fish fingers and Smiles (don’t look at me like that, you know exactly what I mean) then you can have a double win for that one.
Celebrate the little things
If your child has drawn a picture of Mummy at school, ignore the fact that your boobs are like Spaniel ears and take it as a win that you meant so much to them that they wanted to draw their favourite person. When they eat three peas in that pasta you made them earlier, that’s a mini celebration that your consistency and hard work has paid off. When they dress themselves for the first time, even with a toe poking out the end of a worn sock, feel pride that you are raising a little human who is independent in their own care. You are smashing it, in all the small ways and all the big ways too.
Ultimately, motherhood is one hell of a ride and none of us really know what we are doing. But one thing we can really say we know is the importance of rejecting the guilt that we accept, and allow to perpetuate too. We deserve so much more, when we are spinning all the plates, than to feel guilty about smashing the one that is riddled with guilt. Let’s keep feeling the pride, because we’re doing a damn fine job.
If you want end mum guilt, share your Parent Pride moments on social media tagging @haliborangeuk and using the hashtag #EndMumGuilt and #ParentPride.