As a working Mum with two little peeps, I’ve experienced my share of #MumGuilt. 95% of it stems from the fact that my little ones have been in other people’s care longer than my own on a daily basis from a very early age. That wasn’t the plan… but that’s how life worked out.
For years I felt guilty about dropping them off at daycare early and picking them up late. Then as they reached school age they transitioned to Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) both before and after school. On top of that, when we got home the usual end of day chaotic routine began… snacks, shower/bath, dinner, make lunches, homework, cuddles, bedtime…
Talk about #GroundHogDay – every week day this was our routine.
Not only did I feel terrible that I didn’t have the energy or time to spend with my little ones to give them my undivided attention. I also ‘hallucinated’ that others would be judging my parenting prowess or lack thereof. I was constantly grumpy, exhausted and despite all my Super Mum efforts, definitely not keeping on top of everything.
If you feel like this or can relate to my experience—take a moment to stop and be kind to yourself. Parenting is challenging. Working + Parenting is harder. Beating yourself up + Working + Parenting is nuts!
Here are three things I’ll share with you that helped me relieve Mum Guilt and be kind to myself, which helped my sanity simply by letting go of some pressure.
You’re not alone
My situation was/is like hundred’s of thousands of other working parents and at some level, it is somewhat comforting to know I’m not alone in this conundrum.
“In the March quarter 2020, 45.1 per cent of children aged 0-5 years and 31.8 per cent of children aged 0-12 years used approved child care. 1,376,470 children and 986,000 families attended a Child Care Subsidy approved child care centre in the March quarter 2020.” according to the Dept of Education Child Care in Australia report Qtr March 2020. “During the March quarter 2020, average weekly hours of child care use per child (excluding In-Home Care) was 25.2 hours.”
Those numbers are astounding and paint a crystal clear picture that hundreds of thousands of families also utilise child care services. Agree with it or not, it’s part of our way of life in today’s society (a topic for debate another time). Everyone is doing the best they can with the situation they are in and with the resources they’ve got. Including you and me.
I know that sounds harsh, but it’s actually a technical term from the study of Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP). Hallucinating refers to imagining something and treating it as real without evidence or proof or sensory experience, guessing or mind-reading.
Let me explain using an example… Every time I had to admit that my little peeps were in full-time daycare or OSHC, I felt guilt and shame.
Why? Because I was ‘hallucinating’ that other people were judging me as a terrible or selfish parent. The truth was no-one actually told me directly they thought I was a shocking parent with no clue how to look after my children and should really quit my career and focus 100% on raising the little peeps I brought into this world.
I assumed and jumped to my own conclusion (aka judged their potential judgement of me – yes, that’s ironic, right?) because I felt bad and guilty for being in that situation. I was completely projecting my personal feelings about my situation on others.
Doh! That’s not really helpful for anyone. So if you find yourself thinking others are judging you. Stop. Take a breath and check whether you have cold hard evidence or are you simply hallucinating. And if you happen to be hallucinating… focus on the facts, what do you actually know to be true.
Services are there to CARE
It says it in their names: DayCARE. Out of School Hours CARE.
If for whatever reason you send your children to one of these services, ask yourself this question: Do the carers care? I’m pretty sure in 98% of cases the answer would be a resounding “Yes”. The carers and educators chose the profession because they enjoy caring for kids. I know I could learn a thing or two from them to improve my parenting prowess!
Sure there are always those who potentially should consider a different career choice, but in my extensive experience with child care services, those are the outliers, not the norm.
Your children are in good hands with people who are focused on (and yes obligated to) looking after your little peeps and caring for them. You are paying good money for your children to be looked after by these carers and they are being paid to perform well. These services have quality frameworks they need to adhere to that when I looked into them and understood more about how their processes work, I found them very reassuring. Now that’s worth paying for.
Sure, it’s possible your little peeps may have moments when they don’t like attending or something isn’t going right. That’s a great indicator that you need to take the time to communicate and work with the educators to address if or what needs to change.
Mum Guilt isn’t helpful to anyone, especially to you or your little peeps. So ease up on yourself and look for ways to get over the guilt and focus on the good stuff.
- Remember, you’re not alone. If your job requires utilising child care services, it’s not something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about, it’s a sign of our times.
- Stop hallucinating—stick to the facts. Don’t be the judge of the so-called judgers. Your mental health and everyone around you will thank you for it.
- Give the carer’s credit—they do a great job. Work with them and learn from their experience. I know I could learn a thing or two from them to improve my parenting skills!
It’s a big topic, so stay tuned for more and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.