Thursday, June 29, 2017

Do You Crave Guilt-free 'Me Time'?

Do You Suffer With Guilt?

As a therapist one of the things I often hear from  women of all ages and stages of life, is that they feel guilty. Mums in particular are prone to this guilt because they often feel as though they are being pulled from one person, commitment and  place to another. So it's no wonder mums often feel like they can't give 100% to any one thing at a time. The super juggling mum evolves quite quickly in motherhood, so no longer do many mums feel they can savour moments, because often these moments are filled with anxiety, or at least overwhelming thoughts about the next tasks to complete on their list.

The Guilt Cycle In Motherhood

When you become a mother, you have an idea of what it might be like, but nothing can really prepare you for the business and demands that are placed on a new mum. Often as a new mum you place very high expectations on yourself to have fun all the time and to be the Perfect Mum for your child, but of course this unrealistic expectations often leads to feelings of failure, as reality sinks in.

The cycle of guilt begin with a Mum feeling guilty for not doing something (e.g. buying a crying child a toy). She holds her ground, but doubts her decision because her child is still upset. After a moment she either apologises or gives in. Thus, reinforcing the behaviour she was trying to extinguish and creating an even greater opportunity to feel guilty later on.

What also tends to happen is as a mum you might focus a lot on not playing enough with your kids, so this perceived failure feels like it is 100 times worse than it really is. This feeling is most likely perpetuated by not being fully present when you are engaging in 'play' and thus not really registering the amount of time you are giving to your kids. When you are busy and your child pesters you to play, but you can't, you begin to feel guilty again and either give in and play, now feeling guilty about the other task you're currently neglecting, or say "no" and feel bad because you didn't give in to your child's requests.

So How Can You Dramatically Crush Mothers Guilt?

There are two very quick and easy ways to reduce motherhood guilt that I have used very successfully with mums in therapy sessions.

Method 1

The first one is to develop a schedule. This weekly schedule must include times when you play with your child every day - even if it's just for 30 minutes every day. This schedule achieves four great things:

  1. It keeps you accountable
  2. It gives you a point of reference to explain to your child that this is your special time and nothing is going to interrupt it
  3. It reduces your guilt because now you become aware of the time you are spending together
  4. It gives you permission to really enjoy this time together, as you schedule other times for work, socialising, household duties etc.

Method 2

The second way to reduce guilt is to ask yourself a few key questions when you begin to feel that guilty feeling:

1) Did I have a right to this action?
2) Am I/Did I do anything to deliberately try to hurt someone?
3) If I did hurt someone, have I done what I could to appease the situation?

As long as you can answer YES to questions 1 and 3 and No to question 2, you have no reason to feel guilty.

Let's use the shopping experience as an example

You are in the supermarket and your toddler has grabbed a toy off the shelf. You do not want to buy this toy and so you say "no" and take the toy away. Your toddler begins to scream and everyone is staring at you. You begin to feel guilty and so ask yourself the following questions:

1) Did I have a right to this action?

A. YES... I have already bought the same toy last week and my child does not need another one.

2) Am I/Did I do anything to deliberately try to hurt someone?

A. NO.. I was calm in talking the toy away

3) If I did hurt someone (intentionally or unintentionally), have I done what I could to appease the situation?

YES. I have my toddler a hug and explained that we are not buying the toy. Then we walked into another isle and I started being silly with him and showing him all the other things in the store and he finally calmed down.

If you simply apply these two methods into your life, you will see a significant reduction in your levels of guilt and stress and can begin to parent with much more assertiveness and confidence too.

If you would like any additional support in motherhood, visit

Have a great day

Lizzie O'Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Personal Development Coach & Author
Help For Mums
Giving Busy Mums Peace of Mind & Permission to Be Imperfect
C/o Happy Life, PO Box 317, Prahran VIC 3181

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