Let’s talk about solo mum guilt

You may have heard the term ‘mum guilt’. Many mums describe feeling guilty about not doing enough as a parent. Not doing things right, or making decisions that may disadvantage your children in the long term.

Working too much, not being financially secure enough, spending too much time without the kids, not playing enough. The list goes on.

What is solo mum guilt?

Solo mum guilt is an extra layer on top that some solo mums experience. It’s where we feel bad that maybe our kids would have better off if we had a partner and they had a dad in their life.

It can feel to some that maybe there would be more financial stability, less screen time due to an extra pair of hands, another influence in the childs life, more play time. Some women have shared they feel maybe they could be a better mum if they had a partner for support.

Solo mum guilt can stem from many different places. It can be a personal insecurity that we are not ‘enough’. Sometimes it can come from comparing to the version of how it might have been to parent in a partnership. The feeling that everything would have been easier in different circumstances.

It can be comparison to others seemingly perfect lives. What we see on social media. Our own expectations. Societal expectations. Feedback from our children. Many different things.

You may be following people on Instagram who share beautiful curated family pics. All spending time together as a family, where they don’t allow any screen time, feed their children only organic home prepared food, set up creative play which they thoroughly enjoy together etc etc…

We must remind ourselves that this is a tiny snapshot into others lives. It doesn’t represent the true reality of anyones life.

Can it be helpful?

There is sometimes a tiny amount of mum guilt that can be helpful. If your child really is on the iPad all day and you start to feel that it may not be the best choice for them (I have been there during the pandemic), that can be something to alert you to re-evaluate how you do things.

Most of the time, guilt is not helpful.

How can we manage it:

1) Identify the cause

Firstly you need to identify what is making you feel guilty. Once you identify the areas that are causing this feeling, it is easier to look at how you can address them. It is easy to generalise, but the more specific you can get about exactly what is making you feel guilty, the better.

2) Choose how to respond

Once you have identified what is making you feel guilty you have 3 choices about how you respond to that:

  • Learn to reframe it. When you catch yourself feeling guilty, you can remind yourself this is not your truth. Then you can replace the thoughts with all the great things that you are doing.
  • Take action to change whatever is making you feel guilty. If you feel guilty about too much screen time, try reducing the amount of screen time. If it’s not having enough time to play, allocate a bit of 1 on 1 time. Try to identify if there is anything you can do to reduce how guilty you feel.
  • Continue to live with the feeling. Sometimes we can’t see a way of losing this feeling of guilt and other times it can be a role we create for ourselves that we almost begin to feel quite at home in. I don’t recommend this one if possible!

Other things that can help:

  • Remember the phrase ‘Just because things could have been different, doesn’t mean they would have been better’. It is easy to fantasise that if you had a partner, everything would be better. Your child would be happier. Life would be easier. But this isn’t necessarily the case, it is impossible for us to know that. Better to focus on making the most of the situation we are in.
  • Spring clean your social media. Curate your feed full of people who will make you feel good, not those who make you feel inadequate.
  • Clarify your core values. Identify what is really important to you. It’s pretty unrealistic to strive to be perfect. But if we know what is really important to us, we can focus on that.
  • Listen to your children. Are they indicating to you that they are unhappy or something is wrong? Or is it just a feeling of yours? For example is your child begging you to play with them or are they happily playing by themselves as you do some chores?
  • Embrace imperfection. We often have a totally unrealistic expectation of ourselves and our lives. If we embrace things as they are and celebrate what we do have, the guilt can ease.

If you are interested in exploring this subject in more detail, I’m holding a webinar on Wednesday April 22nd at 8pm GMT. You can sign up to attend for FREE here. We’ll cover the specific areas that many solo mums feel guilty about and how we can best address them. It is for anyone at any stage of the journey to solo motherhood.

I’d love to get your feedback on whether solo mum guilt is something you experience. If it is, how do you best manage it?

Mel xx

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