• Paige Hill

The one sentence that changed how I dealt with 'mum guilt'

The one sentence that changed how I dealt with ‘mum guilt’. I used to run a bit before I had children. When I worked in the city I figured out it took me about the same amount of time to run home as it did to catch public transport, and it was a great way to fit in a workout when I was time poor. The feeling of freedom was amazing. I would run home, sometimes in the dark and in the rain, and I’d feel strangely exhilarated. Shortly into my pregnancy running felt awkward, so I stopped. After my daughter was born, I waited impatiently while my pelvic floor strengthened and her neck strength developed and then I set off. It was not the same. For one thing, my thought free meditative state was replaced by a very active inner dialogue Is she ok? Is she bored? Is her beanie covering her eyes? (or worse, her nose?) How the hell was this marketed as a running pram? Was that her crying? I wish I could listen to music This feels good. God I’m unfit Should I let her get out when we get to the park? Did something fall out of the pram? Is her neck really ready? What if it harms her somehow? In some ways, it felt good, but mostly it felt really hard and quite anxiety provoking, and that feeling of freedom and exhilaration were almost totally absent. So I stopped. Speaking to other mums, I know this is not just limited to running. Lunch alone with friends, book club, the gym, gardening, hiking, reading – the things that used to feel easy and that made you feel like ‘you’ so often feel differently after you have a baby. While some can switch off for a period of time, mostly I speak to mums who find that really hard. They leave at the last possible second to get to a class, they feel guilty when they are there, and they rush home after. Let’s not even get started on leaking boobs and the effort it takes to get out of the house in the first place. So that one sentence? I do this for me, so I can show up for you. (A client of mine and I laughed last session: she had remembered it as “I do this for me so I don’t lose it with you” which we agreed worked too!) Mums, and Dads for that matter – show up best for their children when they feel good in themselves. No one can pour from an empty cup. When I run or paint or see friends now, I do it because I know that it will fill my own cup, and I’ll be a calmer, happier, more patient version of myself when I get home. I know that it’s ok to want time away from my children, from my identity as a mum, and from the endless tasks of folding washing, emptying the dishwasher and cleaning up toys. So next time you’ve managed to carve out some time for yourself and those nagging thoughts set in, remember “you do this for you, so you can show up for them” (Also, if you’re struggling to work out what feels good now you’re a mum, stay tuned!) #newmums #mums #selfcare #healthymums #fillyourowncup #parenting #idothisformesoidontloseitwithyou #martyrdomsucks #makingtime