Say no to mom guilt

Say no to mom guilt


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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MANY mothers find it difficult to carry on with other aspects of their lives after having children. Naturally, they feel as if they need to be there for their children whenever they need them, and in a society that still largely believes that mothers should be the main nurturers in the home, women who work feel pressured to become supermoms — smashing career goals while being domestic goddesses, trophy wives and president of the PTA.

Caleen Diedrick, life coach and author of parenting self-help book Mayhem, Mirth and Mastery: Memoirs of Single Parenting, shares that many women feel insufficient when they cannot always be there for their children.

“A lot of mothers believe they have to be all things for the children, especially the single mother who feels she has to overcompensate for the absent father,” Diedrick said.

“In a bid to fit the prescribed model of a good mother, she tries to be provider, doctor, counsellor, teacher and playmate. Whilst all these attributes are necessary to raise a healthy, functional child, many mothers feel guilty when they are unable to be all these things for their children consistently.”

But feeling guilty about not being omnipresent can have negative effects for mother and child, Diedrick warned.

“Ultimately this can lead to resentment towards the child,” she explained. “Mothers need to understand that motherhood is not martyrdom. A mother must continue to pursue her goals/passions as this gives her a sense of fulfilment like no other. This feeling of accomplishment helps to create the mentality that can help her guide her children in the ways of healthy living.”

Diedrick said that creating a proper balance between parenting and other areas of life can make all the difference.

“Creating the balance between work and family time can be a huge challenge, but the most important thing that mothers need to remember is that small amounts of quality time with their children go a long way. Carving out an hour to sit and talk, read and/or play can be very impactful.”

She added: “Another strategy is involving the children in aspects of work when doable, or chores at home in order to maximise the time spent together.”

In addition to creating balance, mothers also need to make time for themselves away from both their children and other responsibilities.

“Mothers should prioritise 'me time', which should involve activities that help them to rejuvenate and replenish themselves,” she recommended.

“Time spent at the hairdresser, time socialising with peers, exercising, time for a lover, time alone reading, or meditating — all of the above give mommy the opportunity to reset, so she can now be in a better place physically and mentally to give a better her to her children.”

Support is important in overcoming mom guilt, Diedrick pointed out.

“To create this time, mothers need a community of friends and family who can care for their children in their absence,” she said. “Taking turns babysitting a friend's child not only provides both children with a playmate for a few hours, but also creates the opportunity to have them keep your child when you need them to. It is also wise to invest in a babysitter — this is a lifesaver when no one else is available.”

Diedrick also emphasised the importance of cultivating meaningful relationships.

“It really does take a village,” she said.

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