Motherhood Tips for Changing Guilt-trips into Great Parenting
Posted on May 10 2017
The struggle is real. One moment, you’re Super-Mum, creating beautiful memories with your kids, embracing all the wonderful motherhood tips you can get, and thinking, “Oh, I got this.” The next, you have a voice in your head saying, “I haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m doing – and I probably never will.”
Mum-Guilt. There isn’t a mum on planet earth who hasn’t wrestled with it. And it takes many forms:
- Paralysis of Analysis (i.e. The Dinner Game: “Do I look for organic, less expensive, or simply something they will agree is edible?”)
- Comparisons (“I couldn’t breastfeed like other mums. I’m such a failure.”)
- The All-Or-Nothing Narrative (“always” or “never” statements about your parenting effectiveness running through your mind)
- Conclusion-Jumping (“If I can’t afford to send them to private school they will never succeed. What am I going to do?”)
And the list goes on and on.
The keys to overcoming your personal guilt-trips as a mother have to do with establishing a clear vision of what you see as a priority in the lives of you and your children. Tips for motherhood exist in abundance, but so do “Nailed It” jokes. There is a subliminal stigma that instead of living in the now and embracing life’s messy moments, every memory must be captured in Instagram-able perfection or it doesn’t count. It’s easy to get caught up in the mentality that says the end-all of our efforts as individuals and as parents is our level of Pin-Worthiness. But that doesn’t set the right example. Your kids shouldn’t think they must meet someone else’s standard of perfection. And – newsflash! – they don’t need you to be perfect, either! But, they do need to watch you try, fall down, and look for opportunities for personal growth so they can do the same.
It takes practice, but it is well worth the effort to learn how to step back emotionally and address the triggers that bring us the feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty. When kids are learning to ride a bike they often feel this way. But parents universally offer the same encouragement – when you fall down, get back up and try again. This is one of the best motherhood tips, too! Are we always going to make the perfect choices for our children? Probably not. There will be ups and downs (i.e., yelling matches with a threenager). There will be debilitating decisions (Sacrifice necessary income? Or miss baby milestones?) How do we navigate all of it without losing sanity?
No one is perfect. Embrace it! How? I’m so glad you asked…
What follows is NOT an exercise in “One More Way to Beat Yourself Up.” On the contrary, it is a list of goals to be revisited over and over in your journey as a parent. So take a moment and copy down these true/false statements. The ones you write with confidence and a smile are going to be your anchors – encourage yourself daily with them as affirmations. The ones that make you wince are the areas that need your attention. Underline them, mark them with a heart – whatever will catch your eye. You are going to encourage yourself with these, too! Put the list up somewhere you will see it every day. Read them aloud. Visualize the reality of the ones that are true and your strategy for the ones that are not yet true. This practice of “Mummy Affirmations” will serve as a daily reminder of your goal – not of perfection, but of being your personal best. Grab your coffee, your journal, and a pen… and start recreating your outlook on your parenting.
True or False?
- My integrity is intact. I have intentionally verbalised MY values and engineered appropriate parenting strategies that reflect those values through my actions.
- I make time on a regular basis to evaluate the atmosphere in my home so I am able to address problem areas in our lifestyle, schedule, and habits before they lead to burnout.
- The relationships that we prioritise with our time are helping us grow as individuals and as a family. We make time to reach out to those who are less fortunate than we are. We also watch for signs of bad influences amongst peer groups and acquaintances.
- I avoid negativity – toward myself and others – at all costs, instead, setting the example of building people up with my words.
- My children see me making financial decisions that reflect my values and regularly get the opportunity to practice financial discipline themselves.
- The care I give myself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually fosters capability and confidence. I regularly take advantage of teaching moments to also equip my children with the tools for proper self-care and the ability to nurture their own families in the future.
This is how we create and realize our potential as parents. If you are running on empty as a mother, chances are you have not yet clearly lined out exactly what your priorities are. If you have, it’s likely you need to be more specific so you can make choices with less impulsiveness and greater clarity. It happens to the best of us – we get tired, distracted, grumpy – at some point we all end up messing up or simply second-guessing ourselves. Life hacks and motherhood tips are great. But the real rewards come when we learn to shake off the temptation to guilt-trip ourselves at the onset and begin to look for the triggers so we can take action.
Each time this happens, we will find we have a new skill set, renewed passion for life, and great advice on parenting to pass on to the next generation. And don’t wait until your kids are teens to start sharing it! From personal experience, some of the best teaching moments for my 5-year-old have already occurred in the aftermath of mistakes on my part – a bounced check, a soured laundry load, losing my keys, etc. I talk through my difficulties with him, and he is included in the solution. My children can see my struggle when I am battling Mummy-Failure syndrome. The way I see it, since I have little capacity for masking frustration with myself, it is crucial to their development that they don’t just see the meltdown, but also the process of overcoming frustration, finding a solution, and passing on wisdom gained from the experience. This is how we avoid Mum Guilt. Recognize the benefit, in the midst of struggle or uncertainty – that our imperfections and lessons learned only help us shorten the learning curve for the next generation. Treat yourself with understanding and you will train your kids to do the same. Parenting is all about legacy; the attitudes, habits, and values we create in the next generation. And it’s so worth it.
What other affirmations would you add to the list or have you used in the past to change a guilt-trip into positive parenting? Let us know in the comments!
Until next time!