Guilty! Guilty as a (lockdowned) Mum can be
Scrolling through my social media pages I have come across post after post of mums showcasing how they have their shizzle together and are totally bossing lockdown.
Mums wearing make up and jeans, yes JEANS giving me 100 ways that the last lockdown is helping them through this lockdown. Mums reminding me that it is vital I partake in some self care and mums who are actually enjoying home learning along with the mums who have bought shares in Baker Ross and Amazon and mums who have the most pristine show homes I have ever seen.
Heading over to my inbox though and the story is some what different. My inbox has been full of mums literally on their knees trying to keep all their plates spinning, trying to be everything to everyone and feeling the most immense amount of 'Mum Guilt'. They have been needing me to tell them that it is ok and they are just as perfect as the mums on my grid.
'Mum Guilt' is inbuilt, it arrives with the baby and never, ever goes away. Mums always strive to be the best but during lockdown many just cannot achieve their idea of perfection, perhaps because they have already set the bar too high.
Many more mums are working compared to the first lockdown, myself included and the guilt mums feel because they are not doing all the fantastic things they see everyone else doing or they have limited or no time to help with the home learning is colossal. For some this has meant working late into the night and others have had to take holiday or cut their hours to find a way to make it work. Some have had to give up work altogether.
Mums with toddlers have no groups to attend, no playdates with a cold cuppa and no rank smelling softplay to pass the hours (and snot) away at and this makes for a very, very long day. To fill a 900 hour day, requires a mum with endless motivation and a unhealthy obsession with Pinterest which, in reality does not exist, despite what is seen on social media.
Furthermore, toddlers do not have huge levels of understanding or tolerance so there is only so much being told they cannot go somewhere or cannot see someone that they can cope with causing, you guessed it, another great wallop of guilt landing firmly inside mum and a lot of tantrums and tears. For the toddlers and the mums.
Mums with school aged kids have been flung back into living the nightmare that is home learning. The first lockdown was bad enough but this time online learning is more, it is full on and many mums are struggling to understand their kids work. The kids are not enjoying this form of screen time and are missing their mates. Throw in juggling work and toddlers on top of the usual 'mum stuff' then plates are dropping and the guilt pangs harder.
Lockdown fatigue has set in for many and mums are no exception. Trying to keep motivated and positive is hard. Freezer Tapas is being served more often than not and eating your 5 a day is less about fruit and vegetables but more about consuming chocolate and wine.
Trying to find a balance between not giving two hoots about all that is weighing mums down and what is important to care about can be tricky. Whatever decision is made, the culpableness and the feelings of failure can be quite overpowering.
You see, mums like to be 'fixers', they like to be able to make things better and be in control but being a mum in a pandemic, the control has been taken away. Mums just don't have the ability to 'fix' this situation. Watching their children regress, be withdrawn, depressed and highly emotional is heartbreaking. While there are some things mums can do to help, they cannot treat the cause, only the symptoms and the guilt runs deep.
Sadly, there is not a 'one size fits all' solution as each mum has a different set of circumstances.
'Mum Guilt' will always be there but redistributing it during a pandemic is important. Accept that you can drop a plate or four, concentrate on the things that you can control and crucially, stop feeling guilty for being guilty.