My Truth About Mum Guilt...
According to a recent study, 87 % of mums have experienced this guilt at some point in their life – and that was before the pandemic! With the likes of Holly Willoughby speaking out about their ‘ working mum guilt’, who (let’s face it) always seems like she has her sh*t together… know that you’re in very good company if you’ve felt torn. So inspired by the celebs and countless convos with my business besties, here’s my experience of the struggles with mum guilt…
The pandemic era = mum guilt on acid
For many of us, lockdown life heightened mum guilt: the expectation to be superwoman by keeping your business ticking over whilst making sure the kids are entertained, educated, and not killing each other can frankly be exhausting. (I swear, some days when I’ve been breaking up the third squabble of the day I felt like my brain could explode – especially when I see that it isn’t even 9 am yet!)
How I see it is: as soon as you become a mum you can’t win. You’re either feeling guilty for fobbing them off with a film or their iPad to get a bit of work done. Or you’re throwing yourself into the role of home-schooling / Butlins Red Coat but secretly thinking “I should be doing x,y,z to get more business in…”
Best laid plans…
When I was pregnant with Sofia (my firstborn), I initially couldn’t comprehend the idea of actually going back to work and leaving her – in my head that wasn’t what being a ‘perfect mum’ looked like. My mum had stayed at home with me and that’s what I thought I should do too.
So I took time out from my PR career, stayed at home, and went to playgroups most days. We sampled lots of fabulous cake, exhausted the local soft plays, and met some lovely other mums…But I began to crave part of my old identity back. That feeling of doing a great job for someone, being appreciated – because let’s face it, being a mum (although THE best and most rewarding job in the world) can feel like a thankless task at times.
When Sienna came along (my youngest), it was a hard slog being at home with two under two. I must admit, I struggled and had never felt exhaustion like it. It also probably didn’t help that we’d moved 60 miles away from my home in Worcestershire and I didn’t have my family and besties on my doorstep. After 12 months of feeling like this, enough was enough and I needed something to change…
Striving for balance
Despite having an impressive PR career, which includes leading regional campaigns for the likes of Department for Health, Department for Education, Aston University, and being a personal press officer to several senior minister visits, I’d lost my confidence when I started my new chapter as a mum. I was so used to throwing myself into my work, I found it hard to grasp that you can still do a great job without working like a woman possessed! But most importantly, you have it all: be a great mum and have a career you’re proud of.
Being a virtual assistant who specialises in PR allows me to do the work I’m good at but gives me the flexibility I need to be there for my little ones (who are now 2 and 3).
Take the pressure OFF!
I now accept that guilt is just one of those things that comes with the territory of being a mum - like nappy changing and 2 am feeds. The vast majority of us with children feel it at some point in our life – whether we’re working, own our business or choose to stay at home. But as long as we’re doing our best, whatever that may be, let’s all stop beating ourselves up about what you’re doing (or not doing). It’s hard enough being a mum, without the pre-conceived ideas and pressure you may have about how you should be or how you should feel.
For me, balance is the key that stops me feeling bad about working whilst the kids are at home – I’ll spend a few hours with the girls and a few hours on my business. Easier said than done some days, but as long as I can move the needle day by day and spend some quality time with the girls then I’m happy. I know I haven’t got the balance perfect yet as I’m still not allocating enough time for myself, but I know that’ll come as lockdown eases and normality resumes.
With the girls going back to the nursery, I will be taking on more clients in July. So if you’re a PR agency, consultant, or business who needs a PR professional on board, get in touch. More details about prices and services at https://www.hawthornhouseva.co.uk/services