Got Mother Guilt? Here’s How To Beat It

your best is good enough

Being a mum is a tough gig. There are constant pressures and societal expectations that can leave you feeling inadequate. Don’t love your post-baby bod? Gave your kids lunch money instead of a packed lunchbox? These little niggles lead to dreaded mother’s guilt. Firstly, your feelings aren’t unique. Secondly, you can overcome them.

The guilt struggle:

From the moment you hold your new bub, the desire to perfect motherhood takes hold. However, flawless parenthood eludes us all, so we begin a lifelong struggle of not feeling good enough. We feel guilty for resenting our crying baby. We feel outraged at our vanity over our stretch marks. We even feel guilty for asking for help.

Then comes school years. We’re racked with disdain over anything from poor school grades to accidently dropping them to school after the bell. In the words of Susan Douglas, Ph.D., author of The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women, “So many devoted mums think that no matter what they do for their children, it’s not enough – and society doesn’t help.”

Here’s how to get a grip on mother’s guilt…

Stop judging yourself

Just because your friend’s baby sleeps through the night or their kid is captain of the debating team, doesn’t mean you have a right to put yourself down. The sooner you stop judging yourself; the sooner you’ll suppress the guilt. Repeat after me: Your best is good enough. Every child’s journey is unique. Being a present, loving, supportive parent is more than enough to make you adequate.

Rationalise things

When it comes to parental shortcomings, there’s definitely a sliding scale. So before you’re swarmed by feelings of guilt, take a moment to rationalise whether it’s really justified. Sent your kid to school with a slightly dirty uniform? Probably not worth getting upset over. Forgot a promise to take them to soccer practice on Sunday? Okay, perhaps a slight pang of guilt is warranted, but that simply shows that you care (and you’ll be unlikely to let that slip your mind again).

Being a parent involves tough choices, and you won’t always get them right. Plus, some things are simply out of your control – like getting your toddler to eat greens.

Let go

Being able to laugh as things spiral out of control is an integral part of motherhood. Does your house look like a bomb went off? Does your appearance look like you survived the bomb? Is your daughter’s fringe crooked? Step back, accept the beauty of the chaos and let things go. If you sweat the small stuff, you won’t survive the big stuff.

Is the grass really greener?

Humans have an innate need to seek ‘greener pastures’. Working mums wish they could give their kids the same attention as stay-at-home mums. And stay-at-home mums wish they could contribute to the family finances or achieve their desired work/life balance. In reality, every mum does the best they can for their situation. There is no greener grass, and there is no better mother (trust me, comparison is your worst enemy).

Take a load off

You may not know it, but a lot of your guilt and struggles are commonplace. Once you let down your guard and admit your struggles, other mums will admit similar ones. So join (or form) a support group with likeminded women. Share, laugh and conquer your adversities, and you’ll take steps to overcoming your mum guilt.

Five Instant Mood Boosters

upbeat music

Do you ever wake up and just know it’s going to be one of those days? You’re feeling flat, anti-social or possibly want to have a tantrum like one of your kids.

…We’ve all been there.

A grumpy mood is common place. But when you’re a mum, hiding under the sheets isn’t an option. But before your next mini meltdown strikes, try these natural pick-me-ups. They work for me.

Music to my ears. When was the last time you updated your playlist? Music is a powerful tool to influence mood. Download your ultimate ‘feel-good’ playlist and feel that foul mood melt away.

Laughter is no doubt the best medicine. That’s because a good chuckle decreases stress hormones, improves your resistance to infections, and triggers the release of endorphins (just like exercise), which bolsters the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. According to Kids Health, laughing together as a family is a way to connect, and a good sense of humor also can make kids smarter, healthier, and better able to cope with challenges. Look back on old photos or put on a silly hat and chase your toddler around the house.

Get a move on. Tiredness can easily creep up on busy mums, but that’s no excuse to throw in the fitness towel. Even if it’s just a 20 minute mind-freeing walk around the block, that’s enough to alleviate some of the tension, spark alertness and productivity.

Keep it neat. Is your house a minefield of laundry, dishes, homework and toys? It might put your mind at ease to get things in order. Achieving a sense of tidiness (and control) can be as simple as making your bed every morning, rehanging clothes, or most importantly, finding a home for everything in the house. When everything you own has a home, it takes minutes to pick things up and put them away, not to mention locate them when you need them in a flash.

Count your blessings. As a mum, it’s easy to let one frustration or ‘failure’ put you down. Rather than concentrate on what is lacking and wrong in your life, reflect on all that is right and be thankful for all you have. In an article  ‘6 Drug-Free Ways to Boost Your Mood” by Dr Susan Biala M.D. suggests replaying “what went well” to create a sunny disposition, helping you shift to a more positive thinking pattern and state of mind. In other words, establish a regular practice of gratitude.

What mood are you in now?

A Lesson In Putting Yourself First

self-care

When was the last time you really put yourself first? If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a career, a house, a partner, a full basket of washing and kids – and you’ve slid down the list of importance. You say things like “I don’t have time to do things for myself” or “the kids are the centre of my world” – but it’s time to start putting more emphasis on your own needs. Here’s why…

What it means to put yourself first

As women, we’re not that great at prioritising ourselves. We spend so much time worrying about the happiness of everyone else. Then there’s the guilt. How can you possibly focus on your needs when everyone else needs you more? You’re selfless – and this is how women should be. Right? Wrong! Putting yourself first needn’t be an impossibility, nor does it mean going to narcissistic extremes. It simply means finding time to do the things you love.

Experts say when you put yourself first, not only do you maintain your mental and physical health – you boost your energy, enthusiasm, motivation, performance and productivity.

Self-care 101

As with most important changes, learning to put yourself first doesn’t happen overnight. But these tips will get you on your way.

Make a list: There’s something kind of solidifying about putting things in writing. So take a moment to list the top five activities that make you happy. If it’s been a while since you’ve done them, it’s time to put wheels in motion.

Make time: Speaking of those wheels… the only way to prioritise you is to schedule some “me” time. You may need to leave work early, get a babysitter or book a weekend getaway. So carve out time in advance and stick to it.

Make up your own mind: Being a generous, compassionate person is a wonderful thing, however if you get caught in a cycle of saying “yes” to everyone’s needs then you’ll end up neglecting your own. The key is creating a harmonious balance between work, family, relationships and your own personal time. And learn to say “no” when really required.

Remember, putting yourself first doesn’t make you selfish, a bad mum or wife, or employee. It simply contributes to a more balanced being, including a healthier mind, healthier body and healthier relationships.

The Winning Lunchbox Formula

ethans-lunchbox

WITH A THIRD OF A CHILD’S daily food intake consumed at school, it’s worth making sure you get the lunch box balance right.

The lunch box formula

A nutritionally balanced lunch box has four key components according to Nutrition Australia, which is based on their recently updated the Healthy Eating Pyramid.

1. The main item
For longer-lasting energy, include a combination of low-GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates, such as wholegrain bread; a roll or flat bread; fruit bread; or crackers. Mix them with a protein-based filling to keep busy kids full and at optimal concentration levels for the entire school day. This includes lean meat (poached chicken, roast beef, lean ham, turkey and for example), eggs, legumes or beans, or nut spreads (provided the school does not have a nut-free policy).

2. A pop of colour
Include whole pieces of fruit; chopped, crunchy veggie sticks; canned fruit in natural juice; or a small mix salad for fibre and an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

3. A sensible snack
Include a nourishing snack based on a core food (e.g. breads or cereals, dairy, meat) to top up energy levels and avoid the afternoon slump. Sensible choices include either a dairy-based snack, such as reduced-fat yoghurt, cheese, plain milk or milk alternatives (such as calcium-fortified soy), or carbohydrate-based foods including grainy crackers, plain popcorn, wholemeal fruit muffin, or protein-rich foods, such as a boiled egg, hummus or canned fish. Agree to include a treat occasionally. Moderation is key.

4. Hydrate
For optimal hydration, always include bottled water – tap water is fine. Plain milk is also acceptable.

We would love to hear your child’s favourite lunch box meals and snack ideas.

This post was originally published in news.com.au

 

Inspired Series: Rachael Finch on Wellbeing and Motherhood

rachel finch

A down-to-earth mother and advocate for leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle, we ask Rachael Finch how she pulls it all together?

How does you strike the balance between business/family/life?

I think it’s all about balance, time management and prioritising! I think it’s healthy to have a wide selection of doing all of these and there shouldn’t be more of one than the other. So whilst we think it’s all about the kids and yes that’s important and they need your affection and love but so do you, and the career and the family. It’s all about balance.

When I put Violet to bed, I stop and think okay, could I do work or do I need a nap? Which one is going to make me more productive when she wakes up? If I have a nap and then get up an hour before she does and do some work and then I have the afternoon off, I’ll be feeling good, but if I push through that and do work now, I’ll probably be feeling shit the rest of the afternoon. It’s about finding where the balance fits right for you and the right time to do things.

How do you like to work out?

Fitness for me is not about getting loads of gym sessions crammed into my week but more about how I feel and giving my body what it is asking for. On days I have loads of energy, I like to dance or go outside for a long run. When I need a pick me up, I practice yoga or pilates. When I’m short on time, I love doing a quick 30 minute, high intensity circuit which I constantly change. You can find my work outs on rachaelfinch.com.

What does a typical day on a plate look like, what is your philosophy on family meals with a toddler?

I try to ensure each meal is made up of at least 60% vegetables, I cook fairly healthy and easy meals, my favourite is just oven roasted salmon with sweat potato and steamed greens. I like to cook everything from scratch but obviously with my schedule and a young one, that can be tricky. I always make sure I have groceries for at least a healthy meat and vegetable arrangement if I don’t have much time to cook. The staples in my fridge are avocado, salmon fillets, cold press juice, sparkling water and broccoli.

What do you do for your mental and emotional wellbeing?

Good relationships are important, so working on those relationships you don’t realise how much that impacts us. Remaining relaxed and doing things for you and not feeling guilty for getting a massage or going to a yoga class in between crazy schedules. Whether this is sitting somewhere for an hour, reading a book or going to a movie, something that turns you off and relaxes you. Whether that is having a spa treatment, if you can from time to time…just having a little time for you at home with a pampering mask and allowing time for yourself. And just general breathing, I think we all forget to just breath.

Rachael is the ambassador for Blackmores who has just released their Wellbeing Check – an amazing way to assess wellbeing in less than 2 minutes! It’s a great tool that checks mental, physical health assessing things like sleep levels, energy levels, happiness, stress and more!

Image: Instagram/@rachael_finch