As soon as a new bundle of joy comes into your life your emotions run high…happiness, pride, amazement and then the little dark one…the one that sits on your shoulder and haunts you. It’s called guilt, and all parents suffer from it. We believe that everything we do will be our fault forever and a day and we’re never sure whether we’ve made the right choices. You’ve no doubt brushed off your kids, with the, “Not now, I’m busy,” or had a bit of a shouting match as you’ve had a bad day. You regret what you’ve done and that’s when the little dark character called guilt sits firmly perched on your shoulder. You beat yourself up about what you’ve done and carry it around like massive rocks on your shoulders. We also get well-meaning, but torturous advice from other moms which only add fuel to the fire. “Why can’t I be like them? They’re so in control and so confident.” Don’t worry, you don’t need to be like them, and it’s quite likely they’re suffering with the same guilt and their way of getting rid of it is to tell the world that all is fine and well and they have the perfect child, and the perfect life. Don’t believe it.
Why do we feel Guilty?
Well how long have you got? There are heaps of ways that we feel guilty, but here are just a few that will probably ring true for you…
- Your milk isn’t coming in and it’s impossible to feed your child, so in desperation you turn to formula, only to be chastised.
- You forget stuff…its dress-up day at school and your child goes to school in normal clothes or you even send them in the dress-up clothes on the wrong day. Yep, it has happened to all of us.
- You happily went to the park and forgot the sunscreen and the hat and you watch other parents lavish it on, terrified that those little skins are going to burn. You get home and your child has sunburn. The horror! Or you take your child to the park and it’s freezing, but no jackets and gloves for you…he’s clearly underdressed.
- You miss an important event because of a work commitment. This is a classic guilt feeder.
- Your child is struggling to make friends at school and you worry it’s your fault; you’ve obviously done something wrong as a parent. Nope!
- You’ve made the decision to raise an only child and constantly get people telling you that having an only child is not a good thing. Hey, how many only children are there out there today…they all seem to be okay!
- You’re raising a brood of kids, and your attention is all over the place, and you feel that heavy guilt as you can’t spend quality time with each of them, and deep, deep down, never to be spoken out loud, you secretly favour one of them. Don’t worry most parents do.
- Your kids have picked up some bad habits and you know it’s coming from you…oops big massive rocks again.
- Your child wants to play with you and even though you might have the time, you just want a bit of peace for a while. That’s not unreasonable by the way!
- Their diet isn’t great, as time runs away with you and takeaways become part of the family routine.
- You’ve had a seriously bad day and you snap and yell at your kids, sometimes you go overboard. By the way, according a recent survey, this is the biggest guilt factor that we as parents face. Remember that it’s normal to get irritated. Surely your kids get irritated with you too if they’ve had a bad day!
We could go on forever, as pretty much anything that affects your kids will make you feel guilty, but this just shows some of the reasons why we feel guilty…there are many more. Do these ring true with you? They do with most parents. You feel guilty whether it’s justified or not.
Why do We Feel Guilty?
Often it has to do with the decisions that you make or how you’re feeling at the time. But to be honest, some of these things are beyond your control or are in fact not a big deal. But, with all those opinions flying about on how to be the perfect parent, we try and live up to some pretty unreasonable standards. You know those moms, everything is awesome, everything is great, and oh have you tried this as I’ve noticed your child is doing something or other. Huge guilt inducer! And we also believe that we need to be the perfect parents. But let me tell you a little secret, there is no such thing as the perfect parent, although some parents pretend they are. They certainly aren’t. You have this deeply engrained sense that everything you do could scar your kids for life. In fact, they actually are pretty resilient little beings, and we should give them credit for that.
How to get rid of the Guilt Forever!
This might sound a bit strange, but some guilt can actually be productive, and of course some is unproductive. The secret is to get rid of the unproductive and focus on the productive guilt. Some guilt can help us improve as parents, like those bad words you might be saying in front of your kids.
So let’s get on with it! Here are five steps to try to say goodbye to parenting guilt forever. You won’t be sorry that you read these great tips!
1. Should you Really Regret Something?
The first step is pretty empowering. Think about your feelings of guilt and decide whether it really is something to worry about or not. If you’re not involved in every single school activity, while all the other parents are, this is certainly a no-brainer not to feel guilty about. But on the flip side of the coin, if you’re promised your kids that you’ll take them to the park and you forget, or even don’t feel like it, well that is worthy guilt, as promises aren’t meant to be broken. Just put it on the calendar the next time, apologise and move on! Never, ever feel guilty about taking time out for yourself, in fact that is essential to being a great parent. Everybody needs a break, as let’s face it, kids can be demanding to say the least.
Take a look at what you can control, like getting takeaways each night, which you can do something about. Set aside some time with hubby and make some nutritious meals for the week that you can just pop out of the freezer in the morning, and dinner done!
2. Let Stuff Go
We strive for perfection as parents, but as I’ve mentioned before, this is not possible, you can do your best, and as long as you have the best interests of your kids at heart, you’re doing okay!
You see your child leaving the house looking like a clown as she has every colour under the sun on her and her hair is all tangled as you’re in a rush. If she doesn’t care, you shouldn’t either. Let them be individuals. Let it go! Also your house looks like a bomb has hit it…it really doesn’t matter in the greater scheme of things. You’re human and please keep reminding yourself of that. This is one of the most important tips that you need to remember and practice, just let it go and you’ll free yourself up!
Let’s put it another way, “You do too much as it is. You’re not Superman, you know.”
3. The Grass is Not Always Greener on the Other Side
So you’re working, as that is what the household needs. Times are tough and you have no choice. So, guilt come rolling in once again that you don’t spend enough time with your kids, or you’re a stay-at-home mom and you feel guilty if the house isn’t spotless or dinner isn’t on the table at the right time or you feel guilty that you’re not actually earning any money. You can’t win at this little game of comparing, and by the way parenting certainly isn’t a competitive sport. Say it loud and clear to yourself please, “I am making the best decision for my family.” If you have to say it over and over again to yourself, then go for it! Oh and by the way, all those parents who create the most amazing birthday parties, do the best activities with their kids, bake the best cupcakes and keep their houses in perfect order don’t exist. You are going to have laundry everywhere, and there will still be toys lying around the house!
4. Breathe and Think Before you React
Knee-jerk reactions are not the best thing and by just blurting it out, only to regret it later will bring on that guilt loud and strong. The most likely time you’re going to do this is at the end of the day when you feel like your head is going to burst and you have had more than your fair share of challenges for the day. You’ve had ENOUGH. Umm, another insight, we all feel like that at the end of the day. Try and take a breath, pause and then react to your kids, whether they’ve been good or bad. If you follow this tip, then you’ll become a bit calmer and less stressed. Give it a try and see how it works out for you.
5. Find Solutions to the Things that Really Eat Away at You
If work and spending time with your family is really stressing you out to the max, then try and ask for some flexi-time, or combine business travel with a vacation. Or you can even ask to work from home a couple of days a week. You can have the morning to work while your kids are at school, and then take some time out in the afternoon. You never know, you might just get lucky. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Also try and set aside an hour of your day where you focus on your kids only…cell phones away please, and play whatever they want. Don’t direct, just live in the moment and enjoy it. Seek out a support group of like-minded parents that feel your pain, feel your guilt and they’ll be a rock of support for you.
As a last thought, remember that feeling guilty actually means that you care deeply and you want the best for your kids. Try these 5 tactics and let us know how they work for you! Do you have any ideas? If so post them here, or join us on Facebook and learn all there is to know about parenting.
Say goodbye to guilt!