I recently met up with a friend that I´d met through a mommy and me class when our daughters were just infants. We shared what had been going on in our lives, and then she said, in a hushed and somewhat defensive tone, that she´d started a business. She ended with, "I loved staying at home with my daughter, but I also really missed having a career."
Guilt blankets mothers like a heavy quilt. We feel guilty about raising our voices, guilty about letting our little ones watch twenty minutes of Sesame Street while we tidy up, guilty about wanting something other than what we have on reserve for the family- an hour away from the house on a weekend, a chance to grocery shop without taking the kids along, a set of non-home based responsibilities.
As I looked up information on guilt and working for an article I´m currently writing, I came across an article titled The Top Ten Guilt Busters. Written by Natalie Gahrmann, a Success Coach and Author, this article caught me from the beginning, when Natalie stated that that guilt was a debilitating emotion that often renders us powerless, and that by introducing logic into our thinking we can get our mindset back on track. She then followed with tips that would help mothers let go of the guilt.
I contacted Natalie to see if I could use some of her information for this blog, so I´ve chosen a few of her points for today´s entry, added some personal commentary, and included the link to her website at the end.
Learn to say no. This is a big one for me. At times I´ve signed up for activities that kept my daughter and me on the run every day of the week. Then on top of that I´ve obligated myself to writing projects and volunteer opportunities, which meant I had to write feverishly during naptime and bedtime each day. I found myself growing snappish and frustrated, because I was frequently running on fumes. Recently I turned down a project that I had been asked to do, and I realized after doing so that it was the first time since my daughter´s birth that I´d said no!
When learning to say no, Natalie suggests figuring out what is important for you and sticking to your priorities. Also, I´ve been trying to remember that everything I sign up for above and beyond my regular commitments will take away time from home. This doesn´t mean that you should never help out, but limit what you do. Pace yourself. There is only so much time in a day.
Put things into perspective. Ask yourself whose standards you are trying to live up to. It is easy to compare our lives with those of our friends, neighbors, or even strangers that we see on the street. The truth is, when you begin comparing what you have (or don´t have) to what someone else has, or you begin basing your priorities on someone else´s life, you´ll always set yourself up for disappointment.
Learn to let go. For me, this is often the hardest. I tend to hang on to the guilt and wallow in it for a while. Natalie says that once something is over you should let it be over. Stop stressing about how it could have been different. Remember, when that little pang of guilt gets you right between the ribcage, try some logic. Then let it go.
You can find the rest of Natalie´s guilt busters, along with her other articles about managing your life and family, at http://www.nrgcoaching.com. Click on resources on the left hand menu and then click on articles.