Fed up of that little voice in your head always telling you you’re not a good enough parent? Banish it for ever with these five steps
It’s a hot, sticky day and your children are bickering. You’ve got a list of chores as long as your arm and all the kids want to do is watch telly.
But as you reach for the remote you’re hit by a pang of guilt and a familiar voice in your head starts up.
More screen-time? Shouldn’t you be doing an activity with them instead?
Whether it’s how much TV we let our children watch, what we feed them or the hours we spend working, these days it seems impossible not to experience some form of mum guilt.
In fact, a recent survey showed that a staggering 87 per cent of us suffer from it.
Gone are the days where if our children were clothed, fed and loved, we were doing a good job. Now, if our children’s emotional, psychological, social, physical, mental, spiritual and nutritional needs aren’t being met 100 per cent of the time, we feel bad.
Dr Victoria Khromova, child psychiatrist, parent coach and founder of parenting website Emerging Parent, says: ‘Mum guilt is really common. But if mums are experiencing these feelings regularly, it can have a negative effect and even lead to them ignoring their own needs, which isn’t good for anyone in the family.’
So what can you do to free yourself from the guilt trap?
Here, Dr Khromova, shares her top tips…
Find time for yourself
A recent survey found that six in 10 mothers don’t exercise because they feel guilty about taking time away from their children.
As mums, we usually put our needs at the bottom of the pile. But if we want to teach our children the vital skill that is self-care, we need to practise it.
Find time for yourself and do something you enjoy. Remember that one of the most important parenting skills is being able to be sensitive to your kids’ needs.
Your sensitivity decreases when you’re tired, stressed out and feeling overwhelmed. Your children will get much more out of their time with you if you’re rested and restored.
There’s no correct way to parent. The number of activities you pack into holidays, hosting the perfect birthday party or the precision of your school run will not affect your child’s overall wellbeing. The things that matter are often hidden, and you’re unlikely to know what really goes on when the ‘perfect’ mums you see at the school gates get home.
Remember why you made your decisions
As parents, some decisions about how we live our lives can make us feel guilty because things like work and hobbies take up time that we could be spending with our children. But there will be very good reasons why you have made those decisions — write these down and keep them on you so that you can refer to them during tough days.
Reflect on your accomplishments
Your main goal as a parent is to raise a child who functions in this world. That means a child who can, for most of the time, enjoy friendships, engage with family time, be curious, explore and stick to some basic boundaries.
If your child is doing that — congratulations, you’re doing great! Parenting is not about raising perfect children who never have difficulties because they’re so highly developed — that’s completely unrealistic.
Make time for your child
Give your child bursts of your full, uninterrupted attention. Even if you start with just 10 minutes, put your phone away and concentrate on them. Don’t be tempted to multi-task, if you’re getting the ironing done during your time together it doesn’t count. The best way to do it, is to choose something that you actually enjoy doing alongside them — crafts, playing a game, cooking together or even getting them to show you their favourite YouTube video. All moments of connection count when it comes to both your and your child’s emotional wellbeing.
Edited by Stephanie May
For more information, visit emergingparent.com