As the school holidays draw near, I already feel mum guilt going into overdrive. The kids will be home for about eight weeks. Eight weeks of no school or no routine has disaster written all over it – for me anyway.
If you work, run your own business or even if you do stay at home, mum guilt is always with you. The day you deliver your first child is the day that someone also delivers you a big bag of guilt to drag around with you. Its starts with bottle v breast, soother v no soother, sleep training v co sleeping…. The list is endless. The guilt of merely just leaving your new born to take a shower is real.
The guilt continues as they get older and usually it’s guilt over working, not giving them enough time and attention or to crave a break if you are at home with them. As a mum who runs her own business, I am lucky to see my kids every day throughout the day, eat lunch with them, drop them to school etc. I am flexible, I can do doctor appointments mostly at a drop of a hat, attend school plays without much hassle and on a sunny day finish up early and go to the beach. Basically, these are the reasons I am self-employed.
However, I am also the mum that’s answering emails, sshhing them during calls and generally being distracted when I am ‘officially’ not working. Officially not working is not having a babysitter in my eyes. Most of time, I view my business as part of the flow of my life, it’s like another child. Always needing attention and if I step away and attend to my actual kids I feel guilty for neglecting the business too! It’s a vicious circle.
The classic example of finishing up early was that glorious beach weather we had in May. I decided to let the childminder head home early that Friday. We joined my neighbour and her little girl for a lovely splash and play at the seaside. I did this partly because I personally after a long winter wanted to enjoy the sunshine but also due to the guilt I felt of not bringing them to the beach earlier that week. As I was coming off the beach around 630pm with tired dirty damp sandy hungry children (crackers and oranges didn’t quite substitute dinner in my toddler’s eyes!), my phone starts going crazy. Marissa Carter has featured my jewellery on snapchat! Of course, I didn’t have the snapchat app on my phone – cue ridiculous scenes of showering little ones and making supper while trying to download Snapchat and answer all the queries, emails etc. The excitement was high but my girls were oblivious!
So I feel the mum guilt going into overdrive this week. Guilt over not having plans for long summer days on the beach, the pressures to arrange playdates so my 4-year-old doesn’t lose touch with her friends, no planned trips to open farms or Wells house, no lazy pjamana days, no arts and crafts, no zoo trips…you get the romantic picture I have in my head.
Then I stop myself and say, of course there will be all those things except maybe just on weekends or on Fridays (they will just have be quiet if I need to take calls or be patient if something exciting or pressing happens!) When we were kids, my mum was a full time stay at home mum and she didn’t entertain us at all. She didn’t drive so we simply just played and did make believe in the garden. My memory of my summer holidays are long simple days which were purely happy days. If we mentioned ‘we’re bored’, she would make us weed the flower beds, wash windows or paint! Granted I wasn’t four but you understand what I am saying. We would excitedly wait for my Dad to get home from work so we could head to the beach for the evening.
My mum took her job as a stay at home mum very seriously. She realised that she needed her breaks too. Every day, twice a day she would sit down from all the cooking and cleaning with a coffee and a magazine. If we tried to speak with her or ask her for something, she would simply say ‘I am on a break’. I fondly relay this memory to all my mum friends.
Therefore, I don’t quite know where the guilt of not having the romantic summer I describe for my kids planned is coming from! I have lovely happy memories from my childhood that didn’t involve anything I am feeling guilty about. My kids will play make believe and ramble around the garden just like I did just mainly with the childminder instead of me.
Indeed, if you need work, run a business or to run messages/errands or just have some well- deserved downtime as a stay at home mum, we need to have a plan of action for the kids. Here are some suggestions:
- Summer camps
From tennis to ballet, GAA camps etc. Lucie is signed up for 3 different camps and she is super excited. www.letsgo.ie for more details of camps in your area.
- Call on your village
I am a big believer in it takes a village to raise a child. Rope in granny, aunties, teenage cousins/nieces/nephews or neighbours. The teenage option is great if you are going to be getting stuff done at home and just need someone to entertain them and fetch snacks!
Related to the village is actually maybe sharing some days with your close friends or family. For example, my sister works part time and I work for myself. On the days she works, I might take hers and she takes mine on her days off. Be creative but may sure it’s a fair deal.
- Schedule some days off
Take your holidays over the summer, take parental leave or just finish up early and go and enjoy the long warm evenings!
And remember, our children don’t need to be entertained all week long. All families and situations are all different. All of us do our best. Ditch the mom guilt and enjoy the summer.