Anyone else have daily battles with mum guilt? Here are some of the things I am currently feeling guilty for:
- Giving him biscuits as a snack (he likes them)
- Not playing with him enough to develop his learning (I rarely play with him and he likes playing by himself)
- Not talking to him enough to develop his speech (he doesn’t listen to me half the time when I do)
- Spending too much time on my phone (being a stay at home mum can be really boring)
- Letting him watch too much TV / iPad (it gives me a chance to get things done)
- Letting him watch my phone when I need him to be quiet in social situations (how can you hold a conversation or eat with a toddler kicking off and climbing all over you?)
- Giving him snacks (or sometimes my phone) just to try to keep him quiet while I look around shops (otherwise he screams entering shops and sometimes I do need to go shopping)
- I am a fussy eater so that is where James must have got it from (I project my dislike of certain foods onto him)
- Buying him a chocolate advent calendar to see if he will eat the chocolate in it (I like seeing him enjoy chocolate like I do)
- Not being a mum that creates lots of educational activities for him to do at home (I am not doing the best for my child)
Everything that James struggles with I blame myself for. I blame myself for the fact that his speech is slow to develop, because obviously I haven’t been talking to him enough. I spend time thinking about what I would’ve done differently. I blame myself for his fussy eating, because I am a fussy eater myself. I find I compare him to other children and then put pressure on myself if James can’t do the same things. I know all children develop at different rates, but mum guilt isn’t always logical.
So why do we blame ourselves? I think because it is easy to point the blame at ourselves. We are the parents so we are responsible for our children. I often feel judged by what I see as my failings. In certain situations I imagine people blaming me for things James can’t do or criticising me. When I give him a biscuit I imagine that someone is saying that he should be eating fruit – trust me if he ate fruit I would be giving it to him. When I get my phone out for him to watch I imagine people commenting that I should be entertaining him in some other way. Don’t get me wrong I’ve tried the toys and he frequently shows no interest, or alternatively wants to play with them whilst climbing over me or the furniture. Plus I am sure people in restaurants would prefer James to watch my phone than listen to him kick off.
As a stay at home mum I am with James all day. It is exhausting. When my husband is at work or away I don’t have any help, so sometimes I do take the easy option. Sometimes we do spend all afternoon watching TV. Sometimes I am talking to my friends on my phone more than paying attention to James, because sometimes I really need to. Sometimes my husband is away for the week and on some days the only adult conversation I will have is with my friends online.
I don’t think I will ever stop feeling guilty. I put so much pressure on myself to do my best for James, but sometimes it is hard to reach what I deem as my best parenting, or what I think society expects from me. In fact, none of us are perfect parents, even the ones that appear to be on social media. We all make mistakes, and if we didn’t make mistakes we wouldn’t be human. Parenting is hard and it is a constant learning experience. Some days I feel like I am sinking and that everything is going wrong and question everything I am doing, then other days the tiniest thing makes me so proud of James and puts the biggest smile on my face. For me the most important thing is that James is happy and I can honestly say that I think he is the majority of time, he is funny, full of life, great fun, loves being outdoors and full of love. So if I give him biscuits, too much TV or my phone to occupy him does it really matter? At the end of the day he is not always in front of the TV, he is not always eating biscuits and I am not always occupying him with my phone. As they say, everything in moderation!
Do you experience mum guilt, and what do you feel guilty for?