It hits you when you’re having a bath, hoovering, checking your Instagram for longer than you expected, serving a ready-made food pouch instead of home-cooked food, washing your hair, doing laundry, buying non-baby related things, doing your makeup, nipping out for a walk on your own… the most mundane things are prime opportunities for that annoying ‘mum guilt’ to start flashing red in your brain.
Before becoming a mum I would never have imagined that there was such a thing as ‘mum guilt’. Guilt of what? And why? However almost immediately after James was born, the ‘mum guilt’ hit me… and it has never left. Here’s what it feels like to have mum guilt: more often than not I feel guilty of not doing enough or being enough for my son; any rare ‘me-time’ I have is filled with guilt and I rush through drying my hair or putting on makeup so I can get back to my baby, where I’m needed the most.
Doing housework is no better – I often feel like the house can wait, the cooking can wait, the husband can wait. Even when I spend day after day, continuously and relentlessly looking after, caring for, playing and simply being with James, and I know I desperately need a break for an hour or so (which ends up being more like 20 minutes!), I just can’t help but feeling guilty for not dedicating that time to James.
Then there’s a whole new level of mum guilt, which is for the things I wish could have done better for my son and things I couldn’t possibly have predicted, but I still wish I had known to help him. I wish I could have breastfed him exclusively from birth; I wish I hadn’t stopped breastfeeding after only 7 months; I wish I could have eased his pain when he was teething for the first time and I didn’t know what to do; I wish I was quicker at getting him some medicine to help with his reflux; I wish I could read his mind to understand why he’s struggling to sleep and help him; I wish I could take away his headache, his cold, his tummy ache.
Some days I feel a lot more on top things and I feel like I’ve got this whole ‘being a mum’ thing figured out, but most of the time it’s a constant battle between trying to not let the guilt stop me from doing things that need to be done, and not wanting to feel like a bad mother. Add to that several months of very little sleep and incredibly long, non-stop days, and I can easily turn into an anxious, stressed and snappy looney on the verge of a meltdown. Being a new mum is hard enough as it is, but when you have this mum guilt lurking around in your mind, some days are unbearably overwhelming. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re a new or an old mum – being a mum is never easy, and that feeling of not being there enough for your kids definitely makes it harder.
For a while I thought there was something wrong with me and that I was the only one who felt so much guilt for not constantly having my baby attached to be. But one day I took to Instagram to share my honest feelings about the ‘not so great’ parts of motherhood and I received a great deal of support and empathy from my fellow online mums. That alone made me feel so much better – not because we’re all struggling, but because we’re all struggling together and we can understand one another. That’s what I like the most about being a mum blogger and vlogger – the community is incredibly supportive and friendly!
Deep down I know that every day I give 110% of myself to be the best mum I can for James, so I force myself to push the mum guilt to the back of my mind. However, I’ve learnt to accept this as part of the new me. There’s no getting rid of the mum guilt – I just have to live with it and remember I’m doing the best I can. Things do need to get done, and unfortunately the baby will grizzle and cry once in a while, which absolutely breaks my heart. But I have to eat, I have to shower, I have to work, I have to keep the house mildly presentable and clean, and not forgetting I have an amazing husband whom I love dearly and who deserves a lot more time and attention than what he has been getting from me since the baby was born.
If you, like me, are a stay-at-home mum without close relatives on the doorstep to offer a helping hand every so often, times can get really tough, life gets busy beyond belief, your to-do list will be the size of a house and your brain will never stop whizzing. That’s territory for a lot of mum guilt, and we’re not even talking about being out of the house! There are three things I tell myself every time the mum guilt hits me badly:
- My baby is ok – he will be fine, he is not in danger or hurt and he can do without me for a little while.
- It’s actually good for James to spend time with daddy, grandma, or whoever is looking after him, instead of constantly being with mummy – it will be great for his social skills and he will have fun interacting with other people.
- I’m still a woman, not just James’ mummy. By doing non-mummy things I enjoy, it makes me feel better and happier, which are feelings that I will subconsciously pass onto James when I’m spending time with him.
I’m sure most mums out there will relate to feeling ‘mum guilt’ every once in a while (or every day!). I wanted to talk about it openly and honestly, as I had never come across this topic before having a baby or even when I was pregnant, so hopefully, this can help prepare some soon-to-be or future mums out there who want to know the ins and outs of being a mum, and what kinds of things and feelings you may have to deal with once your precious little one is in your life. I hope this makes us all feel like we’re not alone – mum guilt is perfectly normal, and it’s going to be ok.
I also hope this doesn’t come across as me saying that I don’t like being a mum, which is absolutely the furthest thing from the truth. I don’t really feel like I need to defend myself and say that I love my baby more than life itself, because that a no-brainer. My intentions with these raw and honest posts are to depict the true life of a new mum – the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the ups and downs.
Have you ever felt or heard of ‘mum guilt’? How do you deal with it? In your opinion, does it ever go away? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Please, feel free to interact on the comments section below or on any of my social media profiles.