I am willing to bet that there is not a mother in the country who hasn’t felt mummy guilt at least once.
I don’t know what it is about guilt and being a mother. How the two go hand in hand. How they are almost inseparable. A few months ago, I asked working mums in my Facebook group to share what triggered the guilt for them.
NONE of the mums felt guilt-free.
Many were torn by the need to balance ‘being a mum’ with ‘needing to work’; being fully present; feeling ‘good enough’.
Earlier in the year, I had researched “working mum guilt” as I developed The Working Mum’s Guide to Ditching the Guilt. I was amazed at the results when I searched “working mum guilt” and “working dad guilt”. I had expected the “working mum guilt” results to be MUCH higher than “working dad guilt” but in fact it was the reverse. And it hasn’t changed.
Search (Googled 7 April 2015) Results
- Working mum guilt – 534,000
- Working mom guilt – 1,980,000
- Working dad guilt – 17,500,000
- How to be happy working mum – 13,600,000
- How to be happy working dad – 50,300,000
Search (Googled 29 December 2015) Results
- Working mum guilt – 544,000
- Working mom guilt – 2,190,000
- Working dad guilt – 9,300,000
- How to be happy working mum – 15,300,000
- How to be happy working dad – 122,000,000
At the time, I was pretty conflicted about these results.
However it’s not enough to argue over who feels more guilty or whether the mummy guilt is more real than the daddy guilt. What we really need to focus on is how to ditch that guilt. To free ourselves from the criticism and self-sacrifice.
When we feel guilt, there is always a reason. In the cold light of day, the reason might not make logical sense, but we’re talking about emotions and feelings here. Emotions and feelings are not always logical. The purpose of guilt is to tell us that we are hurting someone or doing something wrong. It might not be true that we are hurting someone or doing something wrong, but it is our belief or our perception that we are doing something wrong.
I’ve shared this quote before because I think it fits so perfectly:
“Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge.” by Audre Lorde’s from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.
I love the thought that guilt can be useful if it leads to change. It’s about reflecting on the reason for feeling guilt and deciding what you can do to stop feeling guilty. Assuming of course you want to stop feeling guilty. I sometimes wonder whether some people don’t enjoy feeling guilty. As if they enjoy being punished or feel like they deserve to be punished. Perhaps for some former “crime” they committed.
As a working mum, I am getting better at dealing with my guilt. (I fell headlong into the guilty mother trap when I overslept). Through my work and my own personal development, I have learned to make stronger more confident decisions. I am providing a strong role model to my daughters. I do need to set a good example and to show that work or business does not need to be all pervasive in our lives in order to be successful. It’s important that I demonstrate I know how to switch off (literally switch off the computer or iPhone) and have fun. I don’t get it right all the time. But do any of us?
It’s for this reason, that I am very excited about talking to Emily Thorpe in a few days’ time to discuss Ditching the mummy guilt for good: how to break free of self-criticism and celebrate your choices. This is just one of the 20+ interviews in my global online conference The Confident Mother.
Emily and I are going to discuss why so many mums assume that feeling guilty is just part and parcel of being a parent. In fact, it doesn’t have to be. The trouble with guilt, apart from the fact it is such a negative and draining emotion, is that it can also impact on how you show up as a parent and have a knock on effect on your family too, and how you behave outside of your family too – in your business or at work.
Emily will share how to identify your guilt triggers and understand why you feel guilty as a parent. By changing your own rules and beliefs about being a parent, you will be able to embrace your choices and actions and be guilt free forever more.
Join me in January and ditch your mummy guilt for good too!