We’ve all had it, that nagging feeling that we’re not doing it right, or that we should be doing more of this, or less of that. The fear that our choices are going to harm our children in some way.
#mumguilt seems so inherently woven into the lexicon of modern motherhood that we just accept it as part of the job description. And while a moment of mum guilt now and then is completely normal, if it’s not managed, it can lead to more unhelpful emotions like shame, and the belief that we’re a “bad mum.”
So here are my top five tips to help face mum guilt head on:
1. Question where this expectation is coming from. The conflicting and competing expectations that we desperately try to live up to, are often not our own. Family, work, parenting ‘experts’, social media – anyone who tells us how we ‘should’ be doing it – all contribute to feelings of not being good enough.
Consider establishing your own Motherhood Code – the values, beliefs and behaviours that YOU want to parent by; it can help you determine what’s truly important and deserving of your headspace.
2. Is this within or out of my control? Something I tell my clients whenever they want to explore guilt is about a concept called radical acceptance. Put simply it is about accepting the situations that are outside of your control without judging them and learning to invest your energy only into the things you can actually control.
3. If you feel you have made a mistake, own it, but do it with kindness. Then give yourself permission to let it go: “I made a mistake. I am not perfect, no human is.” You can even try to physically give it a little shake off – research shows when we change our body posture it can alter our thinking and mood.
4. Practice compassionate self-talk. In those moments when your inner mean mummy whispers in your ear, respond with understanding and kindness: “I am doing my best.”
Take a moment to acknowledge all the things you are doing well. This is not about letting yourself off the hook, but about putting flaws and mistakes into perspective alongside all your amazing strengths.
5. Share your story. We need to share our honest struggles with each other – a partner, a friend, a safe online community. When those words are released and met with compassion, we dissolve the guilt, reclaim our power and can move on feeling stronger.
So next time you feel mum guilt creeping up take a deep breath. Notice it. Name it. And question it. You are doing a great job.
This article was written by Katrina Court, a certified coach specialising in helping women meet their transition into motherhood with clarity, confidence, and self-compassion. You can get in touch via her partner coach page or by visiting her website www.katrinacourtcoaching.com
February 2, 2023