Start writing a post

My advice for parental guilt in a pandemic

Ever since I became a parent I've felt a relentless undercurrent of guilt. The pandemic hasn't helped; now I'm feeling guilty about things I have absolutely no control over, and I know I'm not the only one.

My William as a newborn
https://twitter.com/Moonfacemum
Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.

Ever since I became a parent I've felt a relentless undercurrent of guilt about everything and anything, from sleep training to screen time, from dealing with behaviour to needing a break. The pandemic hasn't helped; now I'm feeling guilty about things I have absolutely no control over, and I know I'm not the only one.

The pandemic-enforced homeschooling is fertile ground for feeling bad about your parenting skills. Not only do I worry that I'm not a patient or competent teacher, but other mum duties inevitably get left behind. My youngest, Bill, has been babysat by CBeebies and Youtube Kids while I try to give my four year old the time and attention he needs to complete school work. When we stop for a break, I know should play or read with Bill, but I just want a cup of tea and some silence. And the familiar wave of guilt washes over me.

I feel guilty about how much screen time they have, whether I'm doing enough writing or reading with them, the state of the house, what they eat, for leaving them to go to work or the fact they haven't hit a milestone yet. I feel guilty for wanting time away from my kids and not enjoying every moment. I feel guilty that sometimes I find being a mum mind-numbingly boring and I wish I was in the pub instead. I feel guilty when I shout most of all; it never helps and I just feel like I've failed them by letting myself get angry. I feel guilty about the things they are missing out on at the moment; time with family, classes, activities, social interaction and even the dreaded soft play. If I get a break to look at my phone I inevitably end up on social media, which is perfect for fostering guilt as there's always an opportunity to compare your parenting with someone else's polished social media posts and find yourself to be inferior.

And its not new. Its been there since day one. I had quite a difficult birth with Frank, and being exhausted and in shock from an emergency c-section meant that I didn't bond with him immediately. I loved him, but I didn't feel that intense rush of love that you're always told about. I just felt tired and scared. I'm not sure we've normalised the fact that not every mother (or father) bonds instantly with their child, for a variety of reasons, and of course that made me feel intensely guilty and ashamed. It was a year or so before I felt brave enough to say to friends; I didn't bond so well at first because I wasn't in the best state to. Once I'd recovered from the shock, and slept a bit, that overwhelming sense of love and attachment was there. It just wasn't instant for me. With William I had an elective c-section and it was a completely different experience. I was well rested and excited to meet him. I instantly fell in love and held him all day and night even though the midwives begged me to put him down and rest. I didn't feel like I needed to, I was just enjoying the cuddles and staring at him like a madwoman. Of course, that didn't mean that the guilt wasn't there. I felt guilty about two-year-old Frank, at my mum's and later at home with Dada. As soon as we were home the juggling act between a toddler and a newborn began, and I never didn't feel like one of them was missing out. I felt guilty that I couldn't pick up Frank after the c section, and so I tried to, and pulled my out my stitches.

The important lessons I've learned so far on homeschooling my child conversations.indy100.com

I don't have any answers to how we can fend off this parental guilt but I do feel deeply sorry for new parents right now. Covid has brought extra difficulties for parents and they won't be able to access the support networks they would normally have on offer. I've heard new parents sounding deeply guilty about what their baby has missed out on, and I want to say to them - this isn't your fault. Don't let guilt be the predominant feeling of your first year of parenthood when it could be joy. Accept that you will be tired and anxious, and mourn for the baby clubs and coffees and family time you've missed. But don't let the guilt overwhelm you, as it often does to me, when you can't change our current restrictions.

One thing I'm trying is to talk to myself how I might a friend. If a friend came to me and said; I feel so guilty that my toddler is watching cartoons while I'm busy with homeschool, I'd probably say - don't worry. This isn't forever. We are living through a global pandemic for Christ's sake, give yourself a break. You can spend quality time with him once schools re-open and you can have one on one time again. I'm not sure why I can't be that kind to myself, but maybe I should try.

Have you got something to say? Want to share your thoughts and experiences with the world? Submit a post to Conversations today.

The challenges of summertime parenting - from brain freeze to sandy cars

The best time of year to be a parent, just don't forget sunscreen

Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.
https://twitter.com/Moonfacemum

I love the sun more now than I ever did because parenting gets a bit easier in nice weather. But of course, the lighter nights and sunshine bring their own challenges too.

My four-year-old says the only thing he doesn't like about summer is brain freeze, which indicates how many ice lollies are consumed in this house. I made my own last summer from sugar-free cordial and may have to do the same again this year because they requested ice lollies for breakfast and haven't stopped asking.

Keep reading... Show less

The one work productivity method that actually works wonders for me—and it involves a timer

How to make the most of your time while working from home.

If you're anything like me, you might have felt that working from home has its ebbs and flows.

For one, you can work from the comfort of your own home or now, since restrictions are somewhat lifted in the United States ( I'm in New York City), you could go to a coffee shop if you want to change your scenery.

On the other hand, working from home can have its pitfalls because it can be easy to be distracted by your phone, television, or outside noises.

Essentially, productivity can easily fly out of the window.

But how can it be easier to make the most out of the day while working from home?

Keep reading... Show less
#StartTheConversation by joining us on
x

Join our new platform for free and your post can reach a huge audience on Indy100 and The Independent join