Why is it that above all the things we force ourselves to cram into life as a mum, we insist on adding mum guilt to the top of this list…
Have you ever tried to be the mum who’s up at 5am? The mum who “Started the day with a little 10k”? Well good on you, and I’d never judge, I’ve tried it but it’s not me.
While I’m still scrolling on Facebook hitting the 4th snooze, they’ve done 2 loads of washing, prepped the vegetables that they grew in their garden and popped a stew in the slow cooker. Then they’ve make the home made packed lunches, complete with smiley face and carrot sticks. On top of that they’ve just nailed a networking power meeting and are hashtagging the life out of #momlife
And yet we concentrate on the things we’re failing at. When these mums have done or do all these things, I salute them, but Lockdown life only made my mom guilt different, not better or worse.
When the kids were first sent home from school, I remember the feeling of excitement. Looking back it sounds wrong, but it was also very naive of me. I saw it like you would a snow day. Unplanned time that meant you just had to be at home with your kids. Those forced days that are out of your control which end up being full of fun. I’d planned dats of letting them lie in on mornings, spending the day in our pjs, watching movies and baking banana bread. We made the most of our 1 walk per day and the rest of the time we had fun. No routine, no problem.
They did a bit of their school work, but I didn’t push, I didn’t want to. It wouldn’t be for long and how often did they have to be at home with me and not go to friends our other activities. It was selfish, but I was loving it. Life was simple and quiet and I wasn’t nagging them to go places or do anything or rush. I work from home and the world was changing so it was pretty flexible… and enjoyed the slower pace … and then…
2 weeks passed and it continued and continued and continued and somewhere on that journey from 2 weeks to 6 months, far sooner than I’d like to admit, it all went out of the window. Throughout lockdown I was fortunate enough to have worked consistently. In fact we grew busier during the time and I found myself doing hours on end wondering if it might soon come to an end. I was of the mentality, “grab it while you can”, “make the most of it” and I soon found that the precious memories of others were making my guilt bubble over. I went from looking after a team of 380 to over 1500 and work took over my head and focus.
While parents were debating sending their kids back, I was jealous of those still in school. I was worried over their lack of education, but I still didn’t prioritise the time to check in on school work. I was busy and working and if they were quiet, the normal, “something must be wrong” voice went away and I left them to it.
Soon I’d have attended 4 zoom meetings before checking if they were out of bed, let alone if they’d gone to bed the night before from playing fortnite. Most of the time they definitely had… I’m sure!
I started a new routine each week with the same good intentions of a Monday diet, 3 hours in and it had gone to pot. The X box was out, crisps became a staple breakfast choice and I didn’t need to check homework or bedrooms or chore lists.
As lockdown began to ease we were fortunate to have a holiday. I promised in the run up to the holiday to have 2 weeks where they have my undivided attention. And yet once again after 2 days I let them do what they wanted and we all actually enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet on the holiday away from each other.
If lockdown taught me anything it taught me that we will all feel mum guilt at different times for different things. Working too much, not working, pushy mum or not caring, not having the money to spend or spoiling them, screaming at them in rage or not saying a word. I’ve felt guilty during lockdown for the opposite things that I would have felt before.
My biggest learning curve is to stop judging others and focus on the positive intention that most of us have, including me. Without thinking about it we jump to conclusions about how others choose to raise their kids. They work too hard, they don’t work, they spoil their kids, they never treat them, they’re always off out, they never leave them… who cares…
Are they loved?
Are they safe?
Are they being cared for and healthy, physically and mentally?
So today I stop the mum guilt. I have not planned 47 activities each morning for half term, we haven’t baked and yesterday we didn’t even venture outside, except when I sent millie to put the rubbish out. They had a pot noodle for lunch and spent too long watching tv. But we will go for walks, they will have vegetables and we’ll have conversations. We just won’t do it all, all of the time.
If you can relate at all make a pledge to yourself, to stop judging others including yourself and bin that mum guilt. You are not a bad mom, you’re a mom!