Motherhood is a juggling act for sure. Best not to get stuck in the ‘mum guilt’ loop or spend too much time asking yourself: how much time should I be spending with my child to be a good mum?

You know this nagging feeling when you are spending time apart from your baby? The feeling of guilt that might come over you when you invest in a babysitter just to do something for yourself? The often-painful decision to leave your child to daycare to go back to work. This article introduces you to the concept of ‘mum guilt’. Learn how changing your approach on how you spend time with your kid can make all the difference.

What is the definition of mum guilt?

Mum guilt is the feeling of guilt, doubt, anxiousness or uncertainty experienced by mothers when they worry they’re failing or falling short of expectations in some way. For many mums – particularly new, working or single mums – the variables that contribute to this phenomenon are numerous and intense.

Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one – it is a universal phenomenon. Several studies deal with the nagging feeling of mum guilt. Mums all around the world have times of doubt when they question whether they are doing enough. The platform GoodToKnow asked 900 mums in 2017 about mum guilt: 78% of mums revealed that they feel guilty, with 68% saying this occurred once or twice a day and most gave the reason for feeling guilty as not spending enough time with the baby. An NUK study asked 2000 mums: 55% mums felt guilty for wanting a career, 61% felt guilty for not spending enough time with the kids, 66% of mums asked felt guilty for wanting me-time and 34% feel guilty because they could not afford things for the baby.

The question is: what is enough?

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The recurring statement in most of the studies out there is: I feel guilty because I am not spending enough time with my child/children. The question is: how do we define enough?

In the almost global concept of motherhood, women are seen as the primary caregiver. The one with the expertise, the one that is called when the child is crying in childcare and the one who can fix everything. There is this certain expectation that being a mum comes naturally to you and that you should love being a mum 24/7. However, the big secret is that mums are also human. As humans, mums also only have a certain amount of energy available for the day. We all know that there is a difference in getting things done, and getting things done with care and joy.

It is also a fact, that the societal pressure can be a lot and even more troubling, and – guess what? – the societal standard on how to be a good mum can never be met. For some, you are a bad mum when going back to work; for others, you are a bad mum when deciding to stay home. Either way, you can’t please everyone. Accepting this fact and understanding its meaning in all its consequences will set you free! What sounds cheesy, is actually an often-long process of learning, set-backs and realisation.

Decide for yourself: only you know what feels right

Take some time to reflect on that. Ask yourself: what do I define as enough time with my kids? Try to ignore what your mother-in-law, your best friend, your neighbour, your Instagram feed tell you. What feels right for you? Be brave enough to listen to yourself!

Don’t give the negative thoughts prominence:

  • Not being a good enough mum,
  • Not spending enough time
  • Not investing enough energy into your career…

Enough of these ‘enoughs’ with their very vague feelings. A vague feeling makes us feel insecure and provokes the emotion of not doing it right. The more you define what you mean with enough, the more you will be able to create an action plan.

Do ask yourself:

  • Is it about the quantity of time?
  • Is it about quality?

Try to be as precise as possible and listen to your gut: what would make me feel better?

Gain power and stop the nagging feelings

Consider the power of group coaching for mums, where you will get the space to listen to yourself and reflect – something we hardly ever do in our hectic life. While we are all so busy, we have time enough to bath in this nagging feeling of mum guilt but we seldom take the time to pause and reflect but the truth is: we have to pause and reflect to create change.

What are your experiences? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

What do I define as enough time with my kids?

First published on Share the Love.

Katharina von Knobloch