SILENCE YOUR INNER CRITIC :STAY-AT-HOME-MUM GUILT
I recently came across a comment left on a blog about a stay-at-home mum struggling with the inevitable question “what do you do all day?” now her children were at school.
The inspirational comment came from a mum working full time while her husband stayed at home with the school-aged children. She wrote about how much easier it was to work full time when someone was at home with the kids – she could travel when needed, not worry about dinner or organizing children’s doctor visits around work…
This hit me in the face like a ton of bricks. I had never stopped to consider the view from the other side of the fence. I was entirely consumed by my side and what it looked like to others – especially my partner. For me, the idea that I am helping my husband is not new but forgotten. Before our little ones, I took care of the house, the bills, the social calendar and all things required for a balanced life while I worked part-time. My husband enjoys his 12-hour-days corporate role which is both financially and personally rewarding. We were happy in this arrangement and he still is. It is only since our children were born and my work was taken a back seat that feelings of unproductive and an over-arching guilt have been bubbling inside me. We made a conscious and deliberate decision that I would be home and available for our children and I want that, without the side of stay-at-home mum guilt.
I know I’m not alone in this because other stay-at-home mums talk about it too but somehow that doesn’t stop the guilt bearing down on us and making it difficult to enjoy our time at home. Occasionally, I ring my husband and say “when will you be coming home tonight? I’m exhausted and really want to order take away” my face burning with guilt knowing he’s been up since 4.30 am and at work for the last 12 hours. My inner critic’s loud and obnoxious voice rings in my head “What have you been doing all day? That’s what he’s thinking!” I try to protest, tears welling up in my tired eyes as I reply to the voice “But I’m recovering from the flu, 6 weeks pregnant with morning sickness, caring for a toddler, trying to work one day a week and…” I trail off, knowing my inner critic stopped listening after “but”. Back in reality, my husband is telling me he’ll be home soon and to order a pizza. He regularly tells me I’m doing a great job, to go and enjoy myself and just keep my work ticking along until they go to school and I can expand my business again.
He’s right (as always).
So if it’s just us, alone in our heads ridiculing and destroying self-esteem, how can we avoid the stay-at-home mum guilt? After much contemplation, I’ve settled on three key tips that have helped me work through my guilt and silence my nasty inner critic:
Re-frame the whole idea by choosing to remember the value in unpaid work. There are certain things that need doing for a well-rounded life and only one of them involves working full-time earning the money. Our tendency to dismiss “home duties” is damaging. Flip this idea and re frame it as a positive, true benefit to your family.
We all want the best for our families. With one partner staying at home, this provides a wonderful opportunity for teaching children about perspective and balance. There is a yin and yang flow in life and teaching this through family dynamics is a beautiful way to educate your children on all the important aspects of living a balanced life.
Staying at home is a gift to your partner. I like this idea I read in a blog while researching this piece. A kind act for your partner who works long, hard hours to provide the financial means so you can provide the children with a stay-at-home parent.
Children are not young for long and it’s important we devote our full attention to this time – if we have the luxury of one partner working and one staying at home. This means attention to what I like to call the “non-financial” aspects – teaching our children about self-care, cooking, cleaning, gardening, paying bills, arranging social activities, investing in quiet time and building imagination. All these are just as important as earning the money and we do ourselves an injustice when we believe anything less. When your inner critic shows up – take a deep breath and remind them that unpaid work is vital for a well-balanced life.
Thanks for reading
Kate has been helping people boost their health and well-being with natural medicine for 10 years. Through combinations of nutrition, dietary changes, herbal medicine, stress management techniques and massage therapy Kate has helped hundreds of people.