Top Tips & Strategies for Managing Mum Guilt and Finding Balance

Let's face it, mum guilt is a universal experience. We've all felt that pang of anxiety, the worry that we're not doing enough or doing things perfectly. This guilt can be a real burden on our mental wellbeing. Societal pressures often paint a picture of the "perfect mum" who juggles work, a spotless home, perfectly behaved children, and a thriving social life – all with a radiant smile. It's no wonder many of us feel like we're constantly falling short.

Understanding Mum Guilt

Mum guilt can be triggered by a multitude of factors. Maybe you're a working mum worried about balancing career demands with quality time for your children. Perhaps you're a single working mum feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of being the primary or only parent. Even seemingly trivial things like ordering a takeaway instead of cooking a homemade meal can spark guilt. Social media doesn't help either, constantly bombarding us with curated feeds showcasing seemingly perfect families enjoying picture-perfect outings. It's important to remember that these portrayals are often unrealistic and can exacerbate our feelings of inadequacy.

Being a parent is filled with highs and lows, and no matter what your situation, it’s normal to experience moments of insecurity and doubt. In this article, we’ll explore some top tips and strategies to help you manage those feelings.

Strategies for Managing Guilt

  1. Challenge Negative Thoughts: Sometimes, our guilt stems from unhelpful thought patterns. Techniques like cognitive reframing can help us identify and challenge these negative self-talk cycles. For example, instead of thinking "I'm a terrible mum because I yelled at my child," reframe it as "I'm feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, but yelling wasn't the best way to handle the situation. I can apologise to my child and try a different approach next time."
  2. Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself! Motherhood is a 24/7 job with constant demands, unforeseen challenges, and messy realities. It's okay not to be perfect all the time. Extend yourself the same compassion you would offer a friend in a similar situation. Remember, you're doing your best, and that's enough.
  3. Focus on What Matters Most: What are your core values as a parent? What do you want your children to remember most about their childhood? Do you value quality time over meticulously clean floors? Or perhaps nurturing independence and problem-solving skills is a priority? Identify these key values and use them to guide your parenting decisions. This can help you navigate the daily juggle and make choices that align with your true values, reducing guilt and increasing confidence.

8 Tips for Finding Work-Motherhood Balance

The key isn't achieving perfection, but finding a balance that works for you and your family. Here are some practical top tips:

  1. Time Management: Consider exploring time management strategies. This may be creating to-do lists to prioritise tasks, scheduling dedicated time for work, childcare, self-care, and relaxation. Utilise planners or calendar apps to stay organised and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Learn to say no when necessary. It's okay to decline requests that would stretch you too thin.
  2. Prioritisation: Not everything can be done at once, and that’s okay. It can be useful to identify the most important tasks for each day or week and focus on those first. Delegate less critical tasks, errands, or chores whenever possible.
  3. Delegation: Don't be afraid to share the load! Can your partner help with homework, bag-packing, bath time or bedtime routines? Can older children take on age-appropriate chores like sorting laundry, setting the table, or tidying their rooms?
  4. Communicate Effectively: If applicable, you could consider talking to your partner about your workload and childcare responsibilities. Discuss a division of labour that feels fair and balanced. Open communication can help avoid resentment and burnout. Are there other carers or people within your caring network who you can communicate your needs with more clearly?
  5. Embrace Imperfection: Let go of the need for a perfect. Extravagant home-cooked meals 100% of the time are not a reasonable or a sustainable standard to hold. A messy house or a shop-bought lunch doesn't make you a bad mum. Embrace the inevitable chaos and focus on creating happy memories with your children.
  6. Realistic Expectations: Setting realistic expectations for yourself and your children can help to manage mum guilt. Expecting your child to be well-behaved all day, every day isn’t reasonable for most families, nor is expecting yourself to be a superwoman who can do it all flawlessly.
  7. Schedule "Me Time": Making time for self-care is not selfish, it's essential! You may find it beneficial to schedule regular "me time" - even if it's just for 30 minutes a day. Take a relaxing bath, read a book, enjoy a cup of tea in peace, or call a friend for a chat. Recharging your batteries allows you to be a more present and patient parent.
  8. Seek Support: Don't be afraid to seek support from your partner, family, friends, colleagues or even a therapist. Talking to someone who understands can be incredibly helpful. Consider joining a support group for mums, either online or in person. You'll be surprised how many other mums experience similar feelings.