I feel guilty. And then, knowing that guilt does not serve me, I feel guilty for feeling guilty.
Yep – it’s the life of a mum.
Some days I'll feel guilty no matter which one I choose! Author's own image.
As a work at home mum I feel guilty as I sit the kids in front of the TV with their breakfast while I drink my coffee and plan my day. I feel guilty as I walk out to the study to start my morning tasks while my two littlies play together. I feel guilty if my kids are cooped up inside all day and I feel guilty if they play outside and get hurt or sunburned because I was distracted by work. I feel guilty every time we have McDonalds, every time they have crackers for lunch and every time I throw a chocolate frog at them just so I can get 5 minutes of quiet.
I feel guilty when I put off an article so that I can take my kids to the park. I feel guilty when I ignore an email because I want to watch Tinkerbell with my daughter. I feel guilty when I’m reading Dr Suess instead of Dr Sarah Buckley. I feel guilty when I sit and watch my children play in the late afternoon sun after I got “nothing much” done that day. I feel guilty when I put off raising invoices because I want to spend a little time raising my children.
I know that I am not alone. Being a mum is tough and running a business from your home, while raising children, presents some unique challenges for the emotional wellbeing of a mum.
I don’t deserve to feel guilty! Here’s what I do deserve.
Acknowledgement: Most days my house looks like a tip. That’s not because I’m sitting around leaving newspapers on the couch, hiding leftover food under the cushions and spreading toys everywhere. It’s because I have children. And a business. And a house. And a partner who works almost 12 hours a day and golfs on the weekend. And after I finish dealing with clients, children who just want “something to eat” but not any of the 10 items I just offered, mail chimp, website layout, pooey nappies, invoices and breastfeeding a toddler I like to sit and drink a glass of wine and read a book while my kids play in the late afternoon sun. On the weekends I’d much rather take my kids to the zoo (in between editing and publishing articles, client meetings and following up emails) than vacuum and mop.
Who wouldn't rather go to the zoo than mop? Author's own image.
I recently received the acknowledgement I needed. My partner came home and found me enjoying my wine, music, book and children playing and asked: “So what did you achieve today?” I looked at him and said “Does it look like I achieved anything?” His response is the reason I keep him around: “Well the kids are alive. Looks like you achieved a lot. Would you like me to top up your wine?”
Food: Sounds like a bit of a no brainer, hey? We’ve all gotta eat. But I don’t know how many times I have sat the kids down with their lunch and then popped back out to my study to get a bit of work done while they are distracted. I can usually make an entire phone call or write about 2 paragraphs while they eat lunch! However – what this means is that I miss out on lunch. At best I might eat the leftovers off the kid’s plates an hour later (and just hope I don’t get food poisoning!).
I’ve made the decision to schedule in my meal times – and snacks if I need them. Partially because I just deserve it and it is good for my physical and emotional wellbeing and partially because it’s embarrassing trying to talk to a client or a supplier and they can hear your belly grumbling. I plan my breakfast for when my kids will want morning tea because that way I can just give them some of my toast and egg and baked beans. Lunch is done at the same time as the kids. I’m still working on ensuring that I keep a range of healthy snacks available for myself, but I think it will be worth the effort.
Some days this will be my priority and some days it won't. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Priorities: I deserve to have my own priorities. And to not have to buy into other people’s all the time. And some days my priority isn’t going to be getting the children bathed and in bed or creating a nutritious dinner or finalising an article.
Having priorities for the day other than my children doesn’t make me a bad mum.
Having priorities for the day other than my business doesn’t make me a bad business person.
I deserve to set my own priorities without guilt and have the support I need to achieve my goals.
A sense of self: I’m not only mum. Or a doula. Or a Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner. Or a crazy birth nerd. Or a writer.
I am also a woman who loves to read fantasy novels. A woman who likes listening to country music while playing computer games. A woman who can’t dance or sing but loves to anyway.
I deserve some time and space to just be me.
Some days the park is the priority! Author's own image.
So the next time you feel guilty for not realising that your toddler had a pooey nappy, or that your daughter really wanted a glass of water or that you haven’t written an article for over a week…just remember that it’s okay to have days where you achieve nothing more than: We are all alive and nobody burnt the house down. You still deserve to enjoy your glass of wine, music, book and sunshine!
I could really relate to your first sentence. I could relate to the gist of the rest of your article too, lizzi. I didn't work at home when I became a mother but I returned to an office a couple of months after my son was born. Wherever I was and whatever I was doing I felt guilty. A person who is a Carer for someone, whether that be a child or an adult or an ageing parent, can be in this same position of feeling guilty. Thanks for the reminder, we are deserving.