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Editor’s Note: Last month I sat with a really good friend and we talked about Mommy guilt. She’d recently gone back to work and was having a hard time coming to terms with not being able to be there for her kids as much as she wanted to be. That conversation got me thinking and I considered writing an article about it. So I’m really happy to have Gabby’s article here.
Unfortunately, along with all the joys that come with being a mom comes a very specific type of guilt that only mothers feel. Whether it’s guilt because we didn’t buy the toy our child wanted, we didn’t give them a sweet at the time they asked for it, being away at work or missing a play at school, every mother will experience it dozens of times as the child grows up. It’s simply inevitable, but also quite unnecessary.
Unless your actions seriously harm your child, there is really no need to feel guilty for asking your spouse to pick up the child from kindergarten because you had to work or for not wanting to buy the unhealthy food for your screaming kid. There are ways to stop feeling mommy guilt, you just need to learn how.
Ask yourself if you’ve really done something wrong
The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether the guilt you’re feeling is real or referred. If you’re feeling guilty because the stay-at-home mom of your child’s classmate made a comment about you rarely picking up your kid from kindergarten – don’t. This is referred guilt and it’s unnecessary.
If you’re working long hours because you need to provide for your child who is being taken care of by family members or professionals, you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
Ask yourself whether you truly regret your decisions when it comes to your child and if it’s not something that is crucial, let it go and continue doing the best that you can.
It’s a fast-paced life we’re living today and that’s even more true for mothers. So, as you’re being pulled in so many different directions, you need to start prioritizing and then focus on the task at hand. So, when you’re at work, don’t feel guilty about not being at home with your child and vice versa.
Unfortunately, many of us feel like if we’re not with our children 24/7, we’re automatically missing their whole life, which is not true. If you have to go to work, focus on your job because you’re doing it in order to give your child a better life, so you shouldn’t be feeling guilty about missing some little things.
And don’t feel guilty when you dedicate some time to yourself and go to get a manicure, a new haircut or go to the gym. Sometimes you will make your child a priority by taking care of yourself first and you can do that by relaxing and having some ‘me-time’ once in a while.
Trust the people you leave your kids with
This is probably something most of the mothers have a problem with because no one can take care of your child as good as you can. And while that is probably true, you really need to learn to trust people because it will make your life easier.
There are a lot of kindergartens in Australia and you can definitely find reliable ones. I was really worried when it was time to get back to work but thankfully there are good child care centers in Brisbane, so I’ve managed to find one that has professionals that I deeply trust with my children.
So, when I’m at work I know that my children are safe, happy and healthy and I don’t feel guilty for leaving them for a couple of hours.
Allow yourself to be imperfect
We all make mistakes and that’s normal; so, don’t kid yourself with the misconception that other mom down the street is perfect or that you are making the wrong choices. We need to face the reality and admit to ourselves that we’ll simply have to miss out on some moments in our children’s lives.
Admit to yourself that you will be making some mistakes along the way but that you’re not making them on purpose or to hurt someone, especially your child. When you realize you’re not perfect – and no one is – you’ll be able to forgive yourself for those tiny mistakes and you’ll be able to learn from them and move on in your life.
So, the next time you’re feeling guilty – don’t, because you’re doing the best you can. Before you know it, you child will grow up so don’t spend their childhood regretting things but try to make the most of it.