“Mummy guilt” is where mum’s feel guilt or shame when they do something for themselves separate from her children.” – Bel
Mummy guilt is so prevalent in the modern mum. But Bel Vaughanson is going to teach us how to unsubscribe to it!
I first met Bel Vaughanson on Mirosuna’s Mindfulness Fundamentals course. I quickly learnt that her super power is that she DOES NOT suffer from mummy guilt so I could not wait to get her to share her techniques with us and co-create this blog with me!
Bel is married to her best friend and has two amazing children (11 year old daughter and 7 year old son). Both are beautifully empathetic, wise and super independent. But like most mothers, Bel too had her challenges. As babies, in their first year of life, both of her children suffered with reflux meaning sleep was always a big issue for them. One that affected them as babies but also Bel’s entire family, causing them to have to function without sleep!
Like many mothers, her days are very busy! Having to juggle many balls, she still makes it her top priority to ‘do things for herself’ and practise good self-care.
Bel describes mummy guilt as when “mum’s feel guilt or shame when they do something for themselves separate from her children. Where they may need to call on help from someone else, whether it be their husband, extended family or friends and that somehow, focusing on themselves makes them less of a mother.”
The danger of subscribing to this guilt is “I feel like as a mum, you can really find yourself caught up and lost in motherhood, which is all kinds of wonderful, but if we don’t look after ourselves, we are in danger of losing ourselves and ultimately not being the mothers we so deeply desire to be for our children.”
Bel thinks there are so so many reasons why paeople may feel “mummy guilt”. She says, it can be that they just don’t want to or know how to ask for help or don’t have a great support network. Perhaps they have been made to feel guilty in the past for doing something just for themselves. I have also seen some women wear it as a badge of honor to either prove to themselves or others that they are somehow this amazing mum because they suffer with it.
Bel has personally never subscribed to “mummy guilt” and hasn’t ever really understood it, because she realised quickly into her motherhood journey that she needed to look after herself to be the best mum she could be.
“Within the first year of my daughter’s life, I was absolutely besotted with her and rightly so. But one day, I was talking with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and when I walked away, I realised I had only been able to speak about my daughter and how hard everything had been in those first few months. It was like I had been slapped in the face…….I didn’t even know who I was anymore!
I had lost myself in motherhood, I had forgotten that I needed to take care of myself to be able to take care of my family. But what it all came down to though was the question I asked myself which was; what did I want my daughter to ‘see’ when she looked at me? The answer was simple, I wanted her to see how much I loved her but how much I also loved myself.” said Bel.
“Self care doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture (although I do these too) but you can make it so simple and part of your every day.” – Bel
I asked Bel to share her ideas with us so we can try and integrate some of these into our lives!
For Bel, every Monday night is bath night, her family knows this and never interrupts it. At the moment with all the restrictions, she goes for a walk when she finishes work and turns off all her devices, this is a non-negotiable.
Bel loves photography and often use this as a way to be creative and escape into her own thoughts. She also makes the effort to call friends, go out for dinner, head to a movie alone and catch up with her Book Club.
Having a partner that supports you is also a really big help! Bel’s amazing hubby supports her by getting up early on Sunday mornings to take the kids to the markets while she sleeps in.
It is also important to have some bigger things that you do for yourself although you may do them less often. “Once or twice a year I head to my caravan at the beach alone for the night or book myself a nice hotel room – I often use this to reflect, recharge and set goals. I’ll book myself in for a course and go alone with a friend (I’ve done a photography course in the city, many self development, women’s circles etc). Last year I even went to Bali with my sister-in-laws!” says Bel.
● Start off small (have that bath, sit outside and enjoy a cup of tea, go to bed early, nourish your body with a wholesome meal).
● Reframe your thinking! Instead of thinking about what you kids will miss if you are not there, think about what they will gain when you return!
● Trust in your tribe and ask for help when we need it. My daughter actually said she is happy when I do these things for myself as she then gets to spend quality time with her Dad, or her Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles. Think about that!
● Those sayings like “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “you can’t fill from an empty cup”, they aren’t just sayings!!!
● Think about how you want your children to see you, what lessons can you teach them if you are looking after yourself?
“Mindfulness and being more in tune with my thoughts, feelings, words and actions has helped to act as a sign post for me to check in with myself more regularly. For instance, I finished work the other day, the kids were grating on my nerves and I was growling at them left right and center.
Enter mindfulness. I stopped. I checked in with my body; my shoulders were tight and I was getting a headache. I checked in with my feelings; my chest felt tight with anxiety. I checked in with my words and actions; I had a short fuse and I was yelling at the kids.
Then I recalled my day, and in it, not one bit of self care! I hadn’t even stopped to eat and fuel more body.”
Join many mothers in Mirosuna’s community in their practice of Mindfulness, for more peace, perspective and purpose. We would love to meet you at our next event!
Founder of Mirosuna