Ah, the dreaded mum guilt. In this 21st century, smart phone addicted, media driven society, will it ever go away?
It starts in the first few weeks after you’ve had your baby. You’re frankly eating anything to help you get through the sleep deprivation, yet most celebrity mums seem to look amazing just a few weeks after their children’s births. And your friend’s friend is back in her size 10s too – you know this because you’ve seen it on Facebook. The comparisons start and before you know it you’re left with low self-esteem and you start to feel guilty that you’re not stick thin and totally on top of this parenting thing.
Then there’s all the decisions. Breast or bottle, purée or baby led weaning, work or stay at home? It goes on and on. Everyone seems to have an opinion on every aspect of parenting. Not only do we have to make all these decisions, but we can’t get away from reading what other people think of them. We open our phones, read articles and go on social media, and feel bombarded with how we ‘should’ parent. These opinions come crashing down over us like a giant wave, and the guilt about whether or not we’re doing the right thing threatens to take us under. Most of us are just struggling to tread water and stay afloat.
Scroll through Instagram and amongst the photos of your friends who you actually like, and more importantly, actually know, are complete strangers who seem to have it all. The mum guilt ramps up a level. Why can’t I make Pinterest-inspired crafts, bake masterpieces and do my own sensory play at home? Why am I not a size 8 super stylish yummy mummy? I just wear jeans, top and pumps every day, and try and hide my muffin top.
Did our mums feel this way? They probably felt guilty if they accidentally trapped our fingers in a door, but did they feel the constant relentless pressure to be the perfect mum? I suspect not. Because when they were new mums there just wasn’t this level of pressure. There weren’t all these online articles and social media feeds rammed with images that we have today.
It’s taken me two years of parenting to realise that modern life, the media, particularly social media, is fuelling the majority of my mum guilt. We are judging ourselves based on what we perceive to be ‘perfect’ mums in the media, on Instagram and Facebook. But I’m pretty sure they don’t exist. We only see what people want us to see. And who cares if your decision is different to your best friend’s, your sister’s, or your old university friend’s (who you haven’t actually spoken to for eight years, but stalk on Facebook)?
It’s time to trust in our own abilities to make the right decisions for our families. Perhaps we’d all feel a bit less mum guilt if we stopped looking at our phones, and just lived.
Susie was selected as a BISS guest blogger after entering our November linky. For your chance to write for GoodtoKnow, check out our Because I Said So platform.