Guilt to motherhood is like grapes to wine”
– Fay Weldon
As mothers, we don’t just give birth to our children — we give birth to guilt as well.
Whether we are working mums or stay-at-home mums.
Or mums that enjoy socializing and spending some leisure time away from the kids.
There are many different forms of guilt, depending on what we, as mums, perceive we are not doing/doing enough of for our kids.
For the working mums, it is the guilt of going to work and not tending to the kids at home.
For the stay-at-home mums, it is the guilt of being at home and not contributing financially to the family pot.
And for the mums that enjoy going out with friends, it is the guilt of not spending that time with the kids.
As deeply interwoven with motherhood as guilt may be, we can use the power of CHOICE to effectively navigate guilt.
Here are some strategies to do just that:
Identify the benefits (for both you and your kids) of you being the type of mum you are (ie: working/stay-at-home etc)
Many years ago, I sat down and wrote down the benefits — for me and my kids — of me being a working mum. These are some of the benefits for my kids:
- My kids grew closer to each other and learned to lean on each other.
- My kids had more freedom to watch more television as I was at work and could not keep an eye on that. This is a huge benefit for the kids loving watching television without Mom nagging to switch it off.
- My kids learned to become independent and to look to others (friends, friends’ parents, teachers) when need be.
- My kids were exposed to a bigger world by virtue of me being able to work, earn, and bring that bigger world to them.
Give your kids a voice
By calling for regular family meetings where each family member has an equal right and voice, your kids can express what they need from you or feel isn’t being fulfilled by you.
When I did this with my kids, one of the things I learned was that they wanted me to watch their sports games. As a working mum, I couldn’t attend every match, but I could choose which ones I was able to attend.
Carve out time for your kids
When my kids were young, I would set aside a “mum and child day” every term.
I would carefully select a school day (no tests/exams/school events), take a day off from work, and take one of my kids on an outing.
On those days, my kids and I built very special memories!
And, when they became teenagers, I would set aside an evening time slot (6 – 7:30 pm) for each child every alternate week (so, week 1=child 1, and week 2=child 2) and give my kids a choice as to how they wished to spend this time with me, within certain parameters. Both chose to eat out, every time.
During this time, I refrained from teaching and preaching, and just listened to them. By having open conversations with them, they felt comfortable enough to tell me things they otherwise would not have.
“Mum, I tried to smoke,” or
“Mum, my friends are talking about whether they want to have sex with a boy or not.”
Streamline your priorities
Every Sunday night, give yourself half an hour to an hour to plan the upcoming week. This is the perfect time to plan your appointments, meals, time with your kids, etc.
What I love doing is waking up a little earlier than my family every day. Doing so allows me to have some quiet time for myself which I use to do a meditation or visualization exercise and set my intention for the day.
Want to know more about motherhood, guilt, and choices?
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As a mum to grown-up kids, and now a grandmother to my two granddaughters, I sometimes think back to the times I felt guilty about so many things and wonder why I made choices that didn’t really serve me.
However, I also see that in all those times the guilt was big, it actually served me.
I made wiser choices.
I spent more time with my kids.
I made different suggestions I would otherwise never have thought of.
While guilt may always be a part of our lives as mothers, we can CHOOSE to approach it differently, to look at it differently.
We can choose to see guilt as a feedback mechanism letting us know when we need to fine-tune things and get back to the drawing board.
If you are facing “mothers’ guilt” and don’t quite know how to navigate it, reach out to me through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or WhatsApp and we can have a chat about it.
As a mum who has been where you are, I would absolutely love to help you.
From my heart to yours,