parent opinion

"I take time away from the kids for me." 7 things I'm not feeling guilty about anymore as a parent.

Mum guilt. Let’s face it, it’s real. While most of us are just doing our best, day in, day out, sometimes we can’t help but beat ourselves up over our parenting and choices. Wishing we’d done something differently, or counting up our perceived 'failures' along the way. 

While you're here, watch a spoken word video starring Laura Bryne on the pressures that mothers face in their daily lives. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

I say it’s time to ditch the guilt. Easier said than done, I know, but here are seven things I’m not going to feel guilty about anymore.

Having a cleaner aka the cleaning fairy.

Magic is real. And I realised that when I finally caved in to my husband’s suggestion and hired a wonderful cleaner. She comes to our house once a fortnight, and it’s been absolutely life-changing for us as a family. 

Once a fortnight, our house is clean from top to bottom all at the SAME TIME. 

I know it’s an absolute privilege to be able to afford a cleaner, and I’ve struggled with a lot of guilt around it. Surely we should be able to keep our own house clean? 

But with three kids under nine, a shift-working husband and running my business, it’s fair to say that cleaning efforts in the past were sporadic and half-hearted. And there is still so much to do daily to keep the house in order, food cooked, clothes cleaned, etc.

I wish we’d hired our beautiful cleaning fairy sooner, but my ridiculous guilt as a woman/parent around outsourcing cleaning got in the way.

Secretly making things disappear.

Okay, so our cleaner is magic, but sometimes I am too. 

Sometimes my kids' old toys just... magically disappear. And I used to feel bad about it. 

I read about the importance of involving my kids in deciding when it was time for their toys to be handed on to another child or donated to charity, but every time I tried, they suddenly fell back in love with whatever piece of non-age-appropriate plastic they’d been ignoring for the past two years. 

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So now, toy clean-outs are a stealth mission. I bag up the toys they no longer need or use and hide them in a cupboard for a few weeks. Once I’m sure they haven’t noticed the toys have disappeared, then poof! Off to the charity shop or another family, they go. 

Listen to This Glorious Mess where the hosts are joined by Dr Sophie Brock to debunk mum guilt and how to we can change it. Post continues after podcast.


Screen time aka the babysitter.

Before I was a parent, I was convinced my kids would never sit around watching TV in the middle of the day. We’d be out kicking a soccer ball, frolicking at the park or breathing in the natural goodness on a bush walk. And while these things do happen, sometimes screen time is a must. 

I’ve felt so much guilt about turning on the TV for my kids in the past. Surely I should engage in imaginative play with them, rather than using TV time as an opportunity to catch up with work on my laptop, conquer Laundry Mountain (the ever-growing pile of clothes that need to be put away), or crack on with cooking dinner? 

The reality is, a bit of TV time hurt no one. Bye-bye guilt.

Being on my laptop.

Running a business from home which involves being on my laptop means the separation between work and life is easily blurred. 

While this year I’ve made a conscious effort to not work when the kids are at home, sometimes it just has to be done. 

Usually my husband is around and is looking after them, and I’m hiding in my office or another part of the house. But the complaints push all my guilt buttons. "Mummy, stop working!", "Mum, you’re always on the computer!". 

It’s hard, because it’s the opposite of their dad’s job, which requires him to leave the house to go to work.

Yes, I feel guilty about tapping away on my laptop sometimes, but I also try to reframe it - I’m showing them what it means to work hard at something of your own, and often explain to them that my work is still contributing to the household budgets. I’m sure they’d still love to throw my laptop in the bin, though.  

Image: Supplied. 

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Shouting (sorry neighbours).

Before we had kids, we had a neighbour with primary-aged children, who once apologised to me for 'all the shouting'. "Just know," she said, "I’ve asked them in a quiet voice 10 times before the shouting starts." We laughed about it, but now I know it to be true. 

Although I try to be patient, and to use a clear and calm voice, sometimes I just can’t help it. I feel my frustration rising, as I ask them to do something for what feels like the hundredth time, or when they flat out refuse to help me, or to be kinder to each other. 

In the earlier days of parenting, after shouting, I would be a crying mess, wracked with guilt about turning into 'mummy monster'. And I still hate shouting at them. 

But we’re only human. Sometimes it happens. And maybe it’s useful for them to learn that even mums have a breaking point?

Letting them fight it out.

When my kids were younger, I would jump in and get involved in every little disagreement or argument they had. Trying to calmly explain the importance of sharing, taking turns, or being gentle with each other. 

I’ve now realised being a referee of their bickering, arguing and full on fighting would be a full-time job. 

And I sure don’t have time for that. Sometimes, when I’m in another part of the house, I hear things escalating. But now, I leave them to work it out between themselves as much as possible. 

Sure, things sometimes get a little out of hand (and end in tears), but I tell them it’s important they learn to work things out and get along. Fighting one minute and cuddling the next is surely what having siblings is all about? 

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Image: Supplied. 

Taking time for myself.

Last, but definitely not least, is taking time away from the kids for me. The classic mum-guilt trigger. 

When my babies were little, even a solo shower with no interruptions felt like a trip to the day spa. As they grew older, between parenting, domestic chores, cooking, working and managing a schedule of extra-curricular activities and social events, 'me time' became a mythical thing. 

And the sad little faces at the window, if I ever went out for a kid-free lunch with friends, had me falling deep into the mum's guilt well. But I’ve realised I’m a better mum when I’ve had some time to myself.

I still don’t get enough of it, but every moment is worth its weight in gold. It makes me a more fun mum and a happier person. So why should I feel guilty about it? 

Don’t get me wrong, I still find plenty to feel guilty about. But it’s time for me to focus more on the things getting right than the things I think I’m getting wrong. How about you?

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Feature Image: Supplied.

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