Say goodbye to guilt

By Kelly Baker

Not so long ago my evenings followed a depressingly similar pattern. I'd wrestle my two boys into bed then I'd sit down and take a deep breath. But instead of congratulating myself on surviving another day, (something I think all parents should be doing), I'd spend my time picking apart every move I'd made during the past 24 hours.

My thoughts would race. Should I have given two-year-old Ishi a time-out for drawing on the wall... or was it my fault given that I didn't give him any paper? Should I have insisted on washing his hair even though he's in the thick of a hard-core water phobia? And had I done permanent damage in doing so?

And then there was six-month-old Eli. Did he somehow understand the swear words I'd used when he refused to nap all day long? Had I picked him up too much? Not picked him up enough?

And finally there were the broader worries that concerned them both. Had both boys experienced enough mental stimulation, had they eaten as well as they should have, did they watch too much TV? And so it went... on and on... and on.

When it got to the point that I was driving myself (not to mention everyone I knew) to distraction I knew what I had to do - get real. So I reminded myself that being a parent is the hardest job on the planet, something we all need to recognise. We also need to not only take care of our kids to our best ability, but to remember to do the same for ourselves.

We need to acknowledge that we're doing the best we can and, perhaps more importantly, that making mistakes does not mean we're incompetent, but human. And that's not going to harm our children. In fact, I would wager that it's in their best interest to see that their mums (and their dads) are not 100 per cent perfect. Kids need to know that we all have our flaws and that's absolutely okay.

So tonight, after my boys are safely tucked in bed, I will be doing things differently. Yes, I'll sit and take a deep breath. But then, I'll gently tell myself that I did the best I could and that I loved my boys unconditionally and at the end of the day - that's what really matters.

Goodbye Guilt Tips

  • Be kind to yourself. You wouldn't tell a friend that she was a dreadful mother (unless maybe she really was and even then you'd choose your words carefully). Show yourself the same respect.
  • At the end of the day let it go. What's done is done. All you can do is resolve to do things better tomorrow.
  • If you make a mistake let your kids know that you're sorry. This will help them to see that while you might get it wrong sometimes, you're big enough to admit it.
  • Spill your guts! Don't try and weather your parenting worries alone. A problem shared is a problem halved as they say.