Mum guilt lies heavy on those who have just birthed a baby- as if there wasn’t enough to think about as you learn how to keep a small human alive- your conscience kicks in with this new burden. There are many things that I felt guilty about when I was on leave and could give you a list as long as my arm, but I’ve whittled it down to just seven. 

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Wearing PJs all day long: Babies can get away with wearing their sleepsuits all day long and no-one bats an eyelid but when a grown up answers the door in their bedroom’s finest, the postman raises an eyebrow. When you have a newborn, the days and nights all blend into one which means nightwear becomes daywear and thanks to lockdown, loungewear (which is basically pyjamas) means it’s now acceptable to wear this kind of attire around the clock. Even if lockdown had never happened, you’ve been doing the most gruelling of night shifts, so you’re entitled to stay in your bed clothes if that’s what you wish. 

Sleeping during the day: All the books tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps and if you can- do it! Don’t feel guilty about any rest you can get while you have a new baby. They certainly don’t feel guilty about regular cat naps so share their blatant disregard for social convention, curl up on the couch, on the bed or on the floor and get some zzzs whenever or wherever you can-even if it’s at someone else’s house!

Cancelling plans: We’ve all done it- had a plan to meet with a friend and then messaged them the same day to tell them that you can’t make it. Never feel guilty about this. Sleep deprivation makes you a dangerous driver, so don’t get in the car to go somewhere if you genuinely feel that you can’t concentrate on the road. Tiredness also makes you irritable so you are saving your friend from an uncomfortable meet up if you’re not truly invested in it. You need to take care of your needs as well as your baby’s so don’t push yourself too hard if you feel you don’t have the energy to leave the house or socialise. 

Earning less: Most women will go from a full wage to half their usual salary in the space of a few weeks if their income isn’t supplemented by their company and so there-in lies another source of mum guilt right there. It’s ironic that you are doing the most intense job of your life and getting paid less than your usual 9-5 at a time when you need more money to support another human being under your roof. But it’s not forever, there is an end to this dip in wage and it’s not your fault that the figures are what they are. Better to be bringing something in than nothing. Plus, any deficit can be slowly and steadily built up again once you go back to earning your normal wage once more.

MORE:  A day in the life of 'mum guilt'

Having a messy home: As long as you can throw some bleach down the toilet, pop in some laundry and wipe your surfaces down with some anti-bac spray, the rest can wait. Babies create a lot of mess, and when you’re running on empty, the last thing you want to do is tidy up after them. Anyone who visits and are parents themselves will not judge you because they have been there and any friend or family member worth their salt will throw in a load of washing for you or chuck the cups in the dishwasher to help you out. People come to see you and the baby not inspect your skirting boards for dust! 

A lack of routine: Babies hate routine- they have no sense of time or night and day because they have spent the last nine months in total darkness. They are hungry when they’re hungry, have no idea when they are going to soil themselves, sleep when they are tired and wake when they are not. Try to implement a single routine where you can, such as putting them down at the same time every night but don’t feel guilty about not establishing a firm routine in those first few months. As long as they are warm, have a full tummy and are clean, you are doing everything they need you to do. Strict routines can be damaging when it means denying your baby something because it’s not the prescribed time. 

Spending less time with partners: Your partner knows that the reason you don’t have as much time and energy for them is because you are giving it to your baby or babies- this deviation is for all the right reasons. There is nothing wrong with your relationship, it’s just a temporary shift of focus and doesn’t have any bearing on the strength of your bond. Your partner is a grown up and can do all of the things solo that your baby can’t so don’t feel guilty about not making them a meal, doing their laundry or cleaning up after them- they are an adult and can do all of these tasks themselves, even if you were doing them before. The time to reconnect properly will come again- but for now a kiss, a cuddle on the couch or a compliment is enough to get by.

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