As we settle into the likely prospect of having to school our children via remote learning, I cannot help but think about all the mums out there who are already juggling all the things and now they are being asked to home school their children. I don’t want in any way to underestimate the contribution of fathers, however in majority of homes, the mother is the one who is likely to be left holding the baby so to speak.
As though being in isolation around your beloved family 24/7 wasn’t challenging enough, dealing with all the emotions, now we are expected to somehow find the head space to teach our children as well.
For many, our kids going to school was probably the only chance to ‘catch up’ on all the other tasks that pile up and if we were lucky we got some coveted down time, which provided just enough recharge for us to keep going. Now that chance to recharge has been taken away, at least temporarily.
My heart actually sinks every time I think about this because as a Psychologist who has clients who are mums, colleague who are mums and am a mum myself, I know the mum guilt is real and now it just got SUPERSIZED!
What just happened?
Before COVID-19, as mothers we already held ourselves to ridiculous and unobtainable standards that we had no hope of:
1. Obtaining in the first place
2. If by some miracle we did obtain these standards we were very unlikely to be able to sustain them.
Now we have additional workload with less recovery time. I honestly think we need to start giving ourselves permission to suck a bit, we have to change the goal post, give ourselves permission to do that, for the sake of our sanity. Because if we don’t, MUM GUILT can become overwhelming and paralysing, it can keep us isolated (emotionally and physically) and withdrawn so we are less likely to reach out for help, when what we really need to do is share the burden. Share the reality that this is hard but we are willing to pivot and that has to be good enough.
If you are experiencing any of the following:
· Finding it hard to slow down and be present with your kids
· Overthinking everything
· Difficulty sleeping
· Feeling not good enough
· Regularly getting annoyed when things don’t turn out the way you planned (e.g. kid throws a tantrum at the supermarket, kids won’t get in their car seat, kids won’t get dressed, house is a mess)
· No motivation and feeling guilty about not being able to do all the activities that are being posted on social media (e.g. the bear hunt, the chalk rainbows) and instead feel like you are barely able to survive the day…
Then MUM GUILT may have stung you in the bum.
Follow these tips TODAY to help ease the mum guilt:
1. STOP comparing yourself to what you see on social media or in the media (films, TV shows) – someone’s highlight real vs your reality is not setting you up for success. It is putting you on the back foot. I give you permission to unplug, unfriend, unfollow, detox.
2. Lower your expectation of what is realistic. This feels hard because it is hard, we were never meant to parent in isolation, nor were we meant to home school at the same time.
3. Ditch the word SHOULD – implies you aren’t enough right there.
4. Give yourself permission to stuff up, to make a decision and have it not work out perfect.
5. START saying “I would like…but if that doesn’t work out, I will be ok’
6. THANK yourself for showing up every day to look after these little humans even though it is hard.
7. Remember that kids learn best through PLAY so choose connection and love every time. If you are getting into an ongoing fight about maths – play uno!