Admitting (Mum) guilt

Admitting (Mum) guilt

We’re forever talking about taking time for you here at Seventeen Minutes, but we know it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Our whole mission comes from the fact that the average time a Mum gets to herself each day is just seventeen minutes, and even that can prove tricky (I wonder if it includes trips to the loo to grab alone time too – just me?). 

But what about taking time for ourselves away from the house? Intentional, much needed time away – whether going away with the girl’s, enjoying a romantic getaway, or even better going somewhere by yourself to do absolutely nothing, it’s all so important. But it is hard.

I shared on social media last month that I had gone away for a few days, admittedly it was for work (if you can call a product photoshoot work), but it was me, alone, with just my own thoughts and not a “Mummy can I have a snack?” to be heard. Bliss. 

I felt a little sad at leaving my daughter and John behind at first, then quickly began to enjoy my own space for the journey (singing to my favourite songs, and catching up on podcasts – it was like a roadtrip with friends, but I could turn them off!). When I finally arrived I promptly checked in, and smiled as I opened the hotel room door to realise the huge bed was JUST FOR ME. 

 I started to unpack and flicked the kettle on, still feeling like I was on cloud 9 when suddenly- out of nowhere – another feeling struck… 

Guilt, or more- Mum guilt! 

I shouldn’t have felt guilty; I know it makes me a better parent and a better person, but I couldn’t help it. I felt awful for leaving my husband and daughter behind, it was a deep and instinctive feeling I just couldn’t shake. Instead of fighting the guilt, I chose to sit with it instead; I had work coming up as a distraction, then would head to the pool and order room service later on. It was as though I needed to feel the guilt first before giving myself permission to be able to not feel guilty later on. Which got me thinking (how Carrie from Sex and The City is this??)… 

Do we need to feel guilty to feel good?

That we don’t get to take time to ourselves and enjoy time out without a little (or lot?) of self-punishment first? (Yes I really did go this deep on this whilst sitting with my thoughts, which I feel proves my theory perfectly!)… 

 It’s as though the guilt makes taking time out ok, that even though we are gifting ourselves what we need- and what our children and partners need from us from what the break gives- we must still be thinking of them or- worse- feeling bad for even daring not to be. We’re just so used to Mum mode; even when we’re doing something for us, our headspace is still taken up with what we need to be doing for others. You’d think we would switch off as soon as we’re away from it all, but- really- I guess it isn’t always that easy. It’s like finishing work and needing a couple of hours to unwind afterwards (which is why I never quite get as much sleep as I’d like with working in the evening too!). 

It leads me to another question (I might have watched ‘Just Like That’ while I was in my hotel room, can you tell)… 

Is Mum guilt just for us, or is it for the benefit of others? 

It tells our partners that we’re not having too much fun, it shows our children that we miss them, and- the biggie- it stops judgement from others that we are not abandoning our motherly duty and role to be ‘on’ 24/7. Most of all, we are telling the world- and ourselves- that we are a good Mum. 

That yes we are taking time out, but we feel bad for it too- making it seem as though we would much rather be at home than wherever we are. 

THAT’S the role I feel Mum guilt plays, and- if I’m being honest- I think it always will. 

It would be easy to tell other Mums and ourselves not to feel it, but that only leads to feeling guilty for feeling guilty (then there’s feeling guilty for NOT feeling guilty, which all leads to those exact same feelings!). 

Yep I hate to break it to you but Mum guilt isn’t going anywhere; it’s what we do with it that counts. Not allowing it to stop us from taking much needed time for ourselves for one, plus exploring our feelings around why we feel the feels as something positive and explorative which may just give us insights into something we can work on to make us an even better Mum. 

If honouring our feelings of guilt is what we need to do to get to the good part (whatever your version of having a huge bed to yourself, going for a swim and enjoying room service alone is) then we are still winning. 

Time out, just for us, to be the best person/ Mum/ Partner/ Friend/ other we can be. Guilt is allowed, just keep it to seventeen minutes, then move on!

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