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As a full-time writer, writing coach, freelance editor, part-time student, and mother of three, I understand all too well about the dreaded “mother guilt”! The judgemental attitudes from others, coupled with your own ideas about what it means to be a mother and the competing needs of your children, can exacerbate the situation. So how can you follow your dreams AND avoid mother guilt? Here are five simple techniques you can use to manage it:
#1 – Know that it is okay for you to have dreams and goals that are outside of your parental persona.
This one is probably the hardest. We currently live in a society that tells women that being a mother is the only thing they should want. Of course, women are as human as men, and have desires, hopes, and passions that include things other than children – I know this might come as a shock, but some women don’t even want children *gasp*!
It is okay (and healthy and natural) for you to have dreams and goals that are outside of your parental persona. Repeat that as a mantra. Write it on a post it note where you can see it any time you get hit with guilt. Remind the people in your life that you are as entitled to dreams as they are.
#2 – Give yourself permission to follow your dreams and goals.
You’ve worked on telling yourself that it is okay to have dreams and goals, but have you given yourself permission to follow them yet?
This might seem similar to point 1 but knowing something and accepting them are two different things. Know that you are allowed dreams then accept that you can follow them. In other words, give yourself permission.
Here’s another big take away: you don’t need anyone else’ permission.
#3 – Understand the full impact of points 2 and 3 on your children.
Doing these things will model for your children (especially daughters) that it is acceptable and normal to go after your dreams when you are a mother. It will stop another generation of girls growing up to feel mother guilt and will stop another generation of boys assuming it is odd for women to want things outside of the home. You are not only doing this for you but also for your children.
#4 – Counteract mother guilt with quality time.
Planning special one-on-one moments with your children as well as group activities can help ease your feelings and create deeper bonds. None of this has to be expensive or time-consuming (though, both of those options are fine if that’s the way you row your boat).
For instance, my children and I will do a living room picnic, or backyard reading session, or nature collecting together. One-on-ones include doing their favourite activity or even going for a walk, just the two of us. This is quality time that also creates special memories.
#5 – Ask for support.
Ask significant others, family, friends, and your children to support you in your endeavours. Due to the myth of the “Supermum”, women sometimes try to do everything themselves. This is an impossible standard. You ARE allowed to ask for help and support.
Is there anything else you do that helps you to follow your dreams and avoid mother guilt? Please share in the comments.
Yours in love and romance books,
About A.K. Leigh
A.K. Leigh is an international-selling romance author, identical triplet, writing instructor, incurable romantic, love guru, self-love advocate, amateur mystic, mother, sometimes blogger and vlogger, and trauma survivor.