I have been a mother for 12 years now. Mother guilt is something that I have personally struggled with for years. I no longer face this mother guilt battle and here are a few lessons I have learned:
1. Give yourself TIME – When a newborn baby is placed in your arms or you have motherhood thrust upon you from a different situation, you are not expected to be an expert immediately. There is no motherhood handbook that holds all the answers for what is best for you and your family. It takes time to learn mothering skills, to develop love, to know and understand a child who is in your care and to gain experience of what works and what doesn’t. This is done over many days and many sleepless nights. It is a journey that you are learning together. Slow down and enjoy it!
2. Trust your own HEART – When it comes to your children and your family, YOU are the one who knows what choices are good, better and best. You know deep down in your heart what path to take, what your own personal and family desires are and what great hopes and dreams you have for your children. No-one else will love them the way you do and you are blessed with the gift of instincts to lead you each day as you prepare and raise your children the best way you can.
3. Have a REALISTIC PERSPECTIVE – No mother is perfect. Many mothers may look perfect and act like they are perfect, but no mother really IS perfect. In this challenging journey of motherhood having a realistic vision of what you can achieve individually and as a family will give you peace of mind and help you reach a standard of living that will bring happiness and contentment. Having a good perspective of motherhood is healthy and will ease your mind of unnecessary worry.
4. Know you will make MISTAKES – Being a mother is a roller coaster ride. There are low’s and high’s. The mother guilt lows can be very depressing and the highs can be totally uplifting. Knowing that you will make mistakes on this lifetime ride, and so will your children, will allow you to forgive yourself, let go and move forward towards being a better, more educated and experienced mother. It is not easy raising children and knowing that all mothers make mistakes is comforting and brings relief!
5. Give yourself PRAISE – As a mother we are doing a great work within the walls of our homes. We are helping to raise wonderful cherubs who we love dearly and often do this under stressful circumstances and with very little sleep. Often we forget to praise ourselves for our efforts and to give ourselves a break. We forget to tell ourselves how wonderful we are, what an awesome woman we are and that we are doing a sensational job raising our children. When our children say ‘I love you mummy’, do we stop to think about just how wonderful the woman is that they are loving?
6. Have a sense of HUMOUR – Often when I am feeling like I have not done the best I could or it has all fallen apart around our home – I have found it is the perfect moment for having a good laugh. Many days the choice comes down to crying my eyes out or laughing my head off. The times when I have chosen to laugh have been some of my best memories. The children have joined in and we have turned a somewhat difficult situation into a fun filled joyful moment. Laughter truly is the best medicine and seeing the brighter side of life always feels so much better.
7. Know you are NOT ALONE – Motherhood can feel like a lonely journey some days. It can feel like all the children are against you and that you are the only one who is trying to teach, train and hold the family together. It can also feel like you are the only one dealing with your own personal struggles and trials and that no-one understand what you are going through. In my conversations with other mothers I have been surprised just how many other mothers feel exactly the same way I do with problems I face, worries I have for my children and with not knowing what to do next. Knowing that I am not alone in trying to be a great mother has brought me comfort, sweet assurance and peace. I have felt my burdens lifted as I opened up to share worries with other women and loved the advice, support and laughter we have shared.
8. Know your LIMITS – One of the ways to be a great mother is to know yourself. To respect yourself and be mindful of what you are capable of. Trying to keep up with other mothers and what they are doing often leads to unhappiness and exhaustion. We know what we can do, what is realistic for us to achieve and when we have reached our limit with emotions and physical stamina. When we take on too much, push ourselves too far and try to be someone we are not we can very quickly find ourselves in tears and wondering what went wrong. There is nothing wrong with saying no and protecting ourselves so that we can be happy and motivated to dedicate our energies to raising our families. Do what you know you can do and your family will love you for it.
9. Think POSITIVE THOUGHTS – Our internal thoughts often reflect how we truly feel about ourselves. When we speak kindly to ourselves we feel less stressed, less guilty and less pressured to perform at unrealistic levels in our mothering. Removing words such as ‘I should’ and ‘I have to’ helps us to find some freedom in the daily choices we need to make in raising our children. Reminding ourselves each day that we are making a difference, that we are a great mother and that there is no greater work we can do will help us be cheerful as a mother and allow us to find nobility in motherhood.
10. Give yourself PERMISSION – Every mother needs time alone. To breathe, to refresh and rejuvenate. The sooner you give yourself permission to have this time, the happier you will be. We often spend all of our time placing the needs of our family above our own and feel very guilty whenever we take a small amount of time for ourselves. Taking time out does not mean you do not care about your family. Taking time out shows your children that you care about yourself and your needs too. This precious time out is greatly needed and essential for emotional stability and a fresh outlook on motherhood.
I hope that these tips help you in some small way on your motherhood journey and I really appreciate you taking the time to read them.