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The Mum Guilt Conundrum; by Emily Smith

Seated on the couch are a group of Mums wearing food stained clothes, hair in a messy bun, bags under their eyes. 

The conversation is about going back to work. One Mum is going back to work full time, another part time, there is also one Mum planning to be a stay at home Mum.

Who in this scenario FEELS the most guilty?

The answer – ALL of them do. 

In modern motherhood, with the rise of the ‘perfect parent’ as depicted on Instagram, we are ALL feeling a sense of guilt for not doing parenting ‘right’.



Mum Guilt Conundrum

I recently did some research into what makes mums feel guilty.. here’s the list… can you relate?

-not being good enough

-not balancing everything

-not having a clean house

-yelling too much

-not dedicating undivided attention to all children

-not giving the same attention to 2nd/3rd borns

-not letting kids join us in bed

-spending time out with friends

-am I screwing them up?

-am I too tough?

-am I emotionally supportive enough?

-being a grumpy mum

-sending my kid to daycare so I can work

-sending my kid  to daycare so I can have time to myself


-having a night out

-spending money on me

-not working enough

-not missing my kids

-not doing enough for them

-not present with them

-not being there for all their achievements

-not helping with homework enough

-wishing to have a week off mothering

WOW. That is an overwhelming list of things to feel guilt over. And I guarantee you can relate to a lot of these.

Why does this happen?

When we become a mother, our whole world changes, you know this already.

We learn all the external actions we need to take to be a mother… feeding, changing..burping..settling etc. However, we don’t learn about how to manage the emotions we experience as a mother.

When we become a mother, we lose our old ‘self’. We lose part of our identity. We are no longer a single entity, we are responsible for a whole other life.

Losing your sense of self in any other scenario is a huge mental trauma. And it is no different for motherhood.

While being told we should be grateful and that motherhood is the most amazing role on this earth… we also have a dull ache of… resentment.

Resentment. Ouch. That’s a tough word. There will be part of you screaming ‘No no, I don’t resent my child!’  because it’s not safe to think that, right?

But resentment is where Mum Guilt starts. And it’s OK, I promise you.

The resentment is there because you lost your identity. Before you had children you had more freedom. You got to make choices based on only the outcome for YOU.

And now you MUST make decisions whilst considering your children. Every. Single. Day. And 99% of the time we have to make more sacrifices than our partner. So while you are a TEAM…you are still experiencing a much bigger shift than him.

Resentment is a highly emotional word, and something that doesn’t feel a safe feeling to have about our children.

So we replace it with a safer option – GUILT.

Why this doesn’t serve you in any way

Guilt is an emotion that relates to the past or future. And its turns into a vicious cycle… here’s how:

We feel guilty because we didn’t make it to class assembly this morning (past).

Or we feel guilty because of an event that you have chosen to go to on your own on the weekend (future)

When we are living in the past or worried about the future, we cannot be in the present.

As soon as you feel guilty you will start thinking negative thoughts. Negative thoughts breed more negative thoughts. And soon enough you are living in a mostly negative frame of mind. Not just about whatever you first felt guilty about… but everything!

And a Mum in a constantly negative frame of mind is going to struggle to do the things she truly wants to do for herself and her children.

Cue..feelings of guilt again!!

What you can DO about it:

  1. Write a list

Brain dump it out Mumma, get it down on paper, hand written! What is it that YOU feel guilty about.

  1. Reframe

Is there another way you can look at this? For example, if you feel guilty for spending money on yourself not the kids… could you remind yourself that your desires are important and a happy mum = happy kids?

  1. Let it go

Guilt in this context doesn’t serve a positive purpose. When we feel guilty for any of the things listed above, it doesn’t make us or anyone else feel feelings of joy, it doesn’t make the problem better, and often contributes more to the problem.

  1. Do things for YOU

This is probably the most important one. If you don’t do things for you, who will? Make a list of all the things that make you feel amazing and do something every day. Yes, every day!

  1. Define the new version of you

So life has changed, you are a mother and things will never be the same. The good news is you can now CHOOSE who you want to be. Get a journal and write down the person you want to be, the thoughts you will think to become this person, and the actions you can take. Every day you have a choice, you could let the change happen to your life OR you can choose your change and define what you want it to look like. 

Time to let go of the guilt!

No one is a perfect mother. Every single one of us is doing the best we can with the physical and mental resources available to us at any given time. 

That guilt will sit in the pit of your stomach and create havoc on your emotions. It is not worth it. 

Spending time, money and resources on doing things that make YOU happy…will make you a HAPPY MUM. At the end of the day, a happy Mum will be the best mother for her children. 

As a Timeline Therapist and Mindset Coach Emily Smith helps women all over the world to release these feelings of guilt and direct energy towards creating a positive life. You can join her free mindset facebook group here, and check out her website for more information on services here.


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