I use this phrase “mum guilt” often, as being mummy to two little ones I have become increasingly aware of how much pressure I put myself under to “get it right”. I want to add this is a term I might have heard from someone else but can’t recall who, so if you know who to credit, please do let me know.
In this 3-part blog I am going to explore what mum guilt is, the potential impact of it and how this can affect us mummies.
So where does this pressure come from? Ourselves, absolutely but it is hugely important to acknowledge that our society (I can only speak of my own western society influence) places disproportionate pressure on mothers to be the primary caregiver.
With my first child, I got up in the night, all the time, every time. I just did it without question. I believed I had to do it ALL to be a good mummy. If I missed something, then I would berate myself that I wasn’t good enough. Perhaps this resonates for you, and you recognise some of this in yourself?
How does it show up?
Mum guilt can show up as thinking “I am a rubbish mum”, “I am not doing enough” or “Only I can sort that.”
Social media adds to that sense when we see so called perfect family pics and we find ourselves comparing our life to others and this shows up as “she doesn’t look tired, she looks amazing”, “I must be doing something wrong,” or “why have they got it together and I can’t?”
As a new mum I felt I HAD to do the majority of caring for our baby AND still manage and juggle all the demands I had before our little one came along. This came from a place of seeing friends who seemed to have “it all together” and from a lack of open discussion in wider society around maternal mental health.
For many mothers this then adds to a sense of needing to control because of the pressure we put on ourselves and this can then show up as not wanting our partner to help with little one, not trusting our partner to “do it properly” and struggling to share the parental responsibilities.
What can help?
Taking things slowly and starting with small steps around what you feel you would like your partner to help with can alleviate the sense of pressure and reduce the internal conflict around feeling you have to do it all.
The National Childbirth Trust has lots of information and support which you may find helpful https://www.nct.org.uk/
In part 2 I’ll carry on looking at this and the potential further impact on mums.