‘All the guilt I feel as a mum, and how I’m letting it go’.

Video by Mamamia Women's Network.

This is a year of change for me.

In 2017 I launched a business (The Volte) with three of the best co-founders you could hope for, a supportive husband and a network of superstar mentors.

We have kicked some serious goals in 2017, but as I reflect on the year that was and look to the exciting year ahead there is one roadblock I do not plan of crossing into the new year. My overwhelming (mainly self-inflicted) mothers’ guilt.

Bernadette is banishing mum guilt. (Image via Twitter.)

Guilt about forgetting it was Teddy Bear Picnic Day (will this giraffe from the car suffice?).

Guilt about forgetting it was flipping Fancy Hat Day. (Dear God, when did you create all of these days? It is not appreciated.)

Guilt for not baking organic meals at dinnertime.

Guilt for not baking at all. (Received a KitchenAid for my 30th birthday. It is unused. I am now 35.)

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Guilt for not laying out ‘invitation to plays’.

Guilt for not being around as much as other mums.

Guilt is such a useless emotion. It’s like worry on steroids with a depressive, anxious edge.  It doesn’t change anything, but just makes you feel shit about what you have chosen to do.

Listen: Entrepreneur and Shark Tank judge Naomi Simson speaks about the difficulties of starting a business from home, and why happy children aren’t her priority. (Post continues.)

My mother used guilt trips regularly as a form of discipline. They’re pretty bloody effective retrospectively in soliciting an apology for said behaviour, but often had zero impact as a deterrent. For instance, my mother gave me two raspberry Codka Cruisers (showing my age) as my alcohol rations for schoolies and warned me that “a reputation takes a lifetime to build but a night to destroy”. I still ended up vomiting in my hair but boy did the moral hangover have a sting the next day.

In many ways, it would be easier to blame others’ for this guilt. I’ve dealt with a few passive-aggressive, thinly veiled comments (mainly from other women).

“I could never work full time because I love being with my children.”

“Are you OK? You always look so stressed and rushed.” (I would like to note I am rushed. I am relentlessly fucking rushing. I would love to stroll.)

But in the main, this guilt is self-inflicted. Some sort of warped internal dialogue telling me that I should be doing more when it is impossible. More when it also seems unneeded. My kids are happy, kind, small people who are not showing any signs of abandonment.

So my 2018 resolution, aside from losing the required 5kg and running a half marathon (zero likelihood of this occurring), is to ditch the guilt. I’m don’t meditate (I wish I did). I don’t see a therapist (I wish I did). So my plan is to focus on the below.

  • Be present in the time I am with my kids. Ditch the phone. Turn off the TV.
  • Try to ignore the bomb site of a house. Tell everyone to call me in that time if there is an emergency at work. Inflict quality time on my kids.
  • Working and pursuing ambition is a being a great role model.

I would probably always be the mum who forgets hat day and who doesn’t bake. Guilt is a useless emotion. It doesn’t make me a better mother or better at my job. It literally achieves zero except stomach acid.

I should add finally that I think any person who is a stay at home parent is a bloody superhero. That’s not the cards that life has dealt for me at this point but I see the value, strength and joy in that role. My main mothering ethos is whatever works for you and your family.

In closing – Adios guilt. You’ve been an unwelcome and rude visitor. Go bother Trump or Kim Jong for a while.

Bernadette Olivier is the CEO and co-founder of The Volte - and no longer a guilt-ridden parent. This post originally appeared on The Volte's blog. You can read the original post here.

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