MUMMY GUILT? JUST LET IT GO
MUMMY GUILT? JUST LET IT GO

Doing the research for this topic (which I know too well being a mum of three myself) I turned to Google and it churned out *gasp* about 15,000,000 results for mothers guilt in 0.28 seconds. And why not? Probably one for every guilt-ridden mum out there.

From the time of their birth, our fierce parental instincts steps into high gear to ensure that our little ones not only survive but thrive to their fullest potential. We worry about what to feed them and not feed them. How much is too much? What if it’s not enough? What kind of long-term damage will I cause if I did not do everything exactly right? What consequences would my child suffer if I did not buy 100% organic, if I exposed her to television before age two, if I often yelled at him, if I did not commit to daily flashcards sessions, etc, etc etc. Whatever the situation, we mama bears have a knack for cornering ourselves into feeling that our best isn’t good enough.

In fact, a BabyCenter survey revealed that up to 94% of mummies felt guilty for a variety of issues – from the amount of time spent with our children to even things like the brand of diapers we buy. In the pursuit of perfect parenting (if such a thing even exists), we have conditioned ourselves to think that we should be “mum-bots” that can do everything and when we can’t, we are failures.

This affliction affects mothers from all walks of life — it strikes whether you’re 20 or 40, reigning over your own home or a Fortune 500 company, living in the big city or a small town. At some point, even the most remarkable and devoted mothers feel that they are not good enough. No matter what we do right as parents, we tend to focus on our flaws.

Judith Warner writes in her book, Perfect Madness “Too many [parents] are becoming anxious and depressed because they are overwhelmed and disappointed. Too many are letting their lives be poisoned by guilt because their expectations can’t be met.” We are making ourselves sick with expectations of perfection. “When guilt starts to take the enjoyment out of your day-to-day life with kids, that’s when you know it’s time to address it,” says Devra Renner, a mom of two and coauthor of the book Mommy Guilt.

Parents need to hear that it’s okay to make mistakes and that it’s okay to be mere mortals. You are not superhuman, and no one expects you to be. Put a stop on the blame game and relish in the fact that no one was born a perfect parent. We are all learning as we go along. It is okay if we do not get it right all the time, or that we are not spending every single waking moment trying to nurture the bleep out of our kids.

This month of May, we turn the spotlight back on you because one key to being a better parent is to realize your own full potential and be the best version of yourself — take a break, find time to find your own happy and in turn have more of “you” to give. Rein in the guilt and give back to yourself.

Make Time for Me-Time

Author of The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman says that inside each of us there is an “emotional love tank” waiting to be filled with love. For couples, filling their spouse’s tank with their love languages on a regular basis builds a satisfying marriage. When conflicts arise, a full tank helps couples discuss and resolve differences openly and lovingly. Conversely, couples who are running on empty tanks are more likely to respond with misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and a critical spirit when clashes arise.

The same goes for nurturing ourselves. Taking dedicated “me” time when you have a family, work, home — and life — to maintain may seem selfish but some of the worst guilt-inducing moments happen exactly because we are stretched to the max and running on empty. We are so overwhelmed and frustrated that we snap at our children and spouses over the slightest little mishap.

It is absolutely necessary to take time to recharge and do the things that fills your own love tank. Join groups and do things you are passionate about. A rested, relaxed and empowered parent will be better able to meet parenting demands with calm and focus. In the big picture, this helps to create a more balanced and happy existence for ourselves and our families.

Mindful Parenting

In recent years, mindfulness has steadily gained popularity. First taught to patients who are living with chronic pain, it is now widely endorsed by famous athletes, performers, and even CEOs. Some parents too have turned to mindful parenting as a tool to help them raise happier, healthier and calmer kids in this hectic world. Psychology Today describes mindfulness as “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Practicing mindfulness helps improve our parenting skills in two ways. On the one hand, we become more conscious of our own deepest needs. We cultivate self-awareness, self-acceptance and compassion. In line with the concept of “me-time”, fundamental to mindful parenting is the belief that we can only give to our children what we have given first to ourselves. The practice of being openhearted and nonjudgmental to whatever arises helps us let go of unrealistic expectations of ourselves, and by extension, we also release the pressure off our children. We see and love them more and more as they really are, not as we want them to be.

The practice of mindfulness also helps us actively reshape our maladaptive mental patterns. We slowly shift from a mindlessly reactive and stressed mode to a mindfully responsive mode. Even when our kids are “pressing our buttons”, instead of losing our patience and yelling, we can see it as a great opportunity for bringing mindful awareness to the situation. Dr. Jon KabatZinn who founded the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program says, “Mindful parenting is not about being a yogi or practicing Buddhism; it’s about being human and realizing that we have more options than we may think in any moment, no matter what is happening.” By remaining calm and present, we bring our “best selves” to the interactions with our children and become more available to them.

Having said all this, learning to parent is a process and there will inevitably still be times when exhaustion or frustration gets the better of us. When these moments of imperfection and failure occur, instead of beating yourself up, see them as opportunities for compassion and learning. These occasional slip-ups do not define our relationship with our children. During these times, just remember: no child that grew up loved was ever left wanting.

This month, have a Mum’s Day Out with us here at Balanced Living and The Living Café. Pick from yoga to cooking class, and a mindful mummies evening on 25 May to put the focus back on YOU.

 

tiffany-wee_profile-picture_nov-2016-2Tiffany Wee

Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist, Mindful Eating, Reiki

Born in Singapore and trained in Australia, Tiffany has consulted in world-renowned health establishments like Chiva Som, ESPA and Balanced Living. She is recognised by her clients for her warmth, efficiency and expertise in helping them achieve their individual health potential. Tiffany is also the first in Asia to offer UCSD’s Mindful Eating course.

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