Monday, 5 January 2015

Am I A Lazy Mother?

Last week I posted this on a Facebook postnatal support group, for mums with babies who were born in May 2014:

“I feel like such a lazy, half baked slattern mother! My kids get bathed hopefully once a week, [Baby Pop] wears pjs and baby grows during the day, the girls often (at least once a week) have a pj day, just so I can catch up on the washing. Feeding [Baby Pop] actual food (as opposed to milk) only happens when I have time (today he's had a couple of choc buttons!!) I have no schedule what so ever and no regular timed naps- he sleeps when and where he falls (although I am working on this!) I aim to leave the house twice a week and think it's been a fantastic week if I manage once! I feel like I may be failing at motherhood, is anyone else like me? Or am I really just a crap mum”

At the time I was feeling really guilty, like I wasn’t doing enough and I felt like I was failing my kids. I had some lovely comments from friends in the group saying that I wasn’t failing and that actually they felt the same. Since then one lady has posted asking if she is failing at ‘baby led weaning’ if she introduces some baby porridge or spoon feeds her baby what the rest of the family are eating in the evening. Another has asked if it’s ok for her baby to still be feeding at night, because the health visitor told her off and said there was no need for it any more. The group is full of instances like this where the guilt kicks in and intelligent, capable women suddenly start to doubt themselves.

I’ve been wondering recently where this mummy guilt comes from, is it from the media and TV programmes like super nanny which tell us how to raise our children and are overly critical of those who are reaching out and asking for help. Is it coming from the mountains of baby and child rearing books that tell us co-sleeping is bad, napping in a cot with the door closed is the best way to do things and a routine should be achieved from day one, while another tells us attachment parenting is the way to go babies should always be with their mother or primary caregiver, pushchairs are the work of the devil and co-sleeping is natural and normal. Or is it coming from the health visitors who are there to support parents, but instead (and I stress this is some not all) put pressure on mums to be back on our feet by 8 weeks, feeding the right foods, getting into the right routines, doing messy play with our children, ‘socialising’ them at play groups every single week and getting babies sleeping through the night by 6 months.

Wherever this mummy guilt is coming from it seems to me mums are putting too much pressure on themselves, and by extension each other, to be perfect. I think it’s time we all gave each other some slack, we’re all in the same boat here whether you are on child number 1 or child 17, no child comes with a manual, they are all different and bring their own challenges. We are all doing an amazing job raising little people who will one day take over the world.

…And I’m not just saying this because I am a half-baked, lazy, slattern mother! 

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