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Mums, let go of them guilt and indulge in your time!!
Motherhood is truly a feat that’s accompanied by a whole host of emotions and an all-consuming identity! Too often, mums feel guilty to indulge themselves with a little bit of time to themselves or ‘me-time.’ However, it’s 2020 and we make a case for mums to ditch the mum guilt and embrace that well-deserved me-time.
Life Beyond “Mum”
We’re all familiar with the terms anno anno Domini (AD) and before Christ (BC) which are used to label the yesteryears! It might also be just how mums describe their own lives pre- and post-babies! Here’s the truth: parenting is HARD. It changes your identity to the extreme. We laugh about the “mum”-brain symptom where new mums seem unable to retain long-term information, however it’s proven that it is hardwired neurological phenomenon that makes sure that baby is above everything else for mum! As such, mums develop new aspects of themselves.
In her TED Talk, reproductive psychiatrist Alexandra Sacks seconds these transitionary periods of a mother’s life when she says it is a time when “body morphing and hormone shifting lead to an upheaval in how a person feels emotionally and how they fit in the world." Part of this experience is letting of the person mum once was which can come with a confusing mesh of emotions like grief and guilt! Sacks further shares that as mum’s neurons rewire themselves, her own (pre-baby) “is pushing away, because she remembers there are all these other parts to her identity-other relationships, her work, hobbies, a spiritual and intellectual life...This is the emotional tug-of-war of matrescence." This tussle is normal, however isn’t discussed much. Mums then go into their children’s years without fully coming to peace with these changes leading to niggling guilt if you’re not say doing something for the kids. Do we need to go on about that nostalgic feeling of solitary travel, cooking to please just the self.
Yet, should mummy-dom come with an obituary of your former-self? We are multi-dimensional humans and should seek a healthy balance between sections of our lives. We strive for work-life balance. Shouldn’t parent vs personal identity be a priority too? Mums need to focus on aspects of themselves that make them them, not just being a mum or mummying!
Why Ditching the Mum-Guilt Can Be A Good Thing For All?
Long story short, that feeling of guilt is zapping your ability to be happy!
The first study on parents’ satisfaction in 1957 found that parents were less happy and had lower emotional well-being than nonparents. Fast forward to 2016, a study of 22 developed nations came to the same conclusion about parents and nonparents. You know what really throws a whammy on this? Researchers found that parents enjoyed making a meal and exercise over parenting. In her book, The Kids Are in Bed, FINDING TIME FOR YOURSELF IN THE CHAOS OF PARENTING, Rachel Bertsche writes about her own personal experience realising how “mummying” was making her dislike being one:
> “When Maggie was a baby, I once heard myself telling a pregnant friend that the moment I put my daughter in her crib at night was the best moment of my day. I was horrified and embarrassed and ashamed.”
Do we need to go on? You would want to still be able to nurture your little ones as magical beings, not ones whom your are obligated to sustain. Guilt is a side-effect of your unfulfilled expectations for yourself as a Mum and frankly, parenthood didn’t come with a manual. There is no standard to live up to. It is organic and intuitive, evolving with time.
How to deal with this? The answer lies in prioritising yourself. Offering you what you need to feel like you again! “Me-time” is often bandied around today, but it might just be misunderstood. Me-time isn’t about adding anything else to your role, but just finding that time to do what makes you energised, put that pep in your step!
Studies have shown that not spending enough time on yourself can have some severe effects on your parenting. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology in 2017 found that close to 13 per cent of over 2,000 parents surveyed had “high burnout” meaning that they suffered reduced efficiency, mental exhaustion and other effects. What’s more, researchers found that parental burnout might have serious consequences for both parent and child, increasing the risk of parental neglect, harm and thoughts of escape in a 2019 study published in Clinical Psychological Science last year.
Simple ways to incorporate “me-time” in your life:
A healthy approach to “me-time” involves setting boundaries around what you will and won’t do. It’s ok to decline things that you feel are not necessary. You know those empty stuff you’re doing to make other happy or live up to that “standard” in your head! Like maybe it’s just not necessary to make sure you’re present at every single one of little one’s open houses or Parents’ Day at your kids’ school. It’s not the end of the world. It’s perfectly fine to do what you might enjoy (for real).
Being Zen with imperfection
Sometimes, having your own space or time can be like ordering takeout over an elaborate homecooked meal for the family. For some mothers, this might be unfathomable but how about we invite you to fathom just that. Maybe in the time that you might be poring over a recipe, how about soaking your feet in some sweet-smelling salts?
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