When I had my first baby in 2016, actually no, when I got pregnant with my first baby, I started feeling guilty that I wasn’t giving him the absolute best start in life. Was I eating the correct diet? Did we read to him enough before he was born? When I saw that firework display did it damage his ears before they had even developed? Any parents will know (and veteran ones told us this back then) that it doesn’t get any better – your worries just change as they get older. That is a hard way to live so I wanted to share with you three common ways we feel guilty as parents and to hopefully reassure you.
1. Feeling guilty for needing a break or being tired
Earth orbits the sun; Simon Cowell has had his teeth done; looking after children is tiring. Three examples of things everyone knows. However, I feel the same way about being a teacher as I do about being a parent: you’re only tired if you are doing a good job.
2. Feeling guilty for getting annoyed with your children
Ah, this one affects me the most. Our weak spot is getting ready to leave the house. It seems to take Finley by surprise that we ask him to brush his teeth every morning so then he almost always ‘needs the toilet’ and several other delaying tactics. In the end, I feel like I am being too stern and it’s what keeps me up at night, vowing to speak to him more kindly the next day. We try lots of reward systems to help with varying degrees of success. When we think about it though, the things we are getting annoyed at are things that benefit him that he will need to learn. Yes, you have to clean your teeth every day; yes, it is important to be on time to meet people; and no, you can’t climb on that high wall with the nettles on the other side (I actually learnt this lesson the hard way when I was a child).
3. Feeling guilty for doing housework
I’m sure by now you may well have seen the poem, ‘Dust if You Must’ floating about on social media. Great sentiment, fully agree that life is about more than housework but we shouldn’t be feeling guilty about this. As per the name of my blog it truly is all about that balance. Of course we don’t want to ignore our children in favour of cleaning but if we don’t fit it into our day nobody will have any clean clothes or food to eat.
Being on maternity and trying to write my second book has not been easy. Mya has decided this last few weeks that she will only sleep for 20 minutes without being held so that has made writing virtually impossible and I have cried a couple of times out of frustration and then felt guilty about wanting to spend some time doing my own thing. But then I remember that Doctor Cox told Elliott in Scrubs that she needed to look after herself in order to be a good doctor. So what is good for me is good for my children too. They get to see me follow a goal and, when I have had time for myself, I can function better as a parent. Some weeks that is not possible but I know it won’t always be like this and I will miss these days so very quickly.
In answer to the question does mum/dad guilt ever go away? No. But feel proud at what a great job it means that you are doing since your children are always at the forefront of your mind. So always take your guilt with an equal amount of pride and know that your children will be grateful for everything you have done for the rest of their lives.