AM I A GOOD ENOUGH MUM?
What are your guilt trips? Learn how you can leave that emotional baggage behind.
Millennial mothers may have more work-life options, but they suffer from Mummy guilt just like their mums did. EVELINE GAN asks the experts how to manage the new guilt factors.
It is mid-afternoon, and this work-at-home mum’s stress level is at an all-time high.
The boss has just e-mailed about a deadline. Nearby, an overstimulated preschooler is throwing the mother of all tantrums, while a 10-yearold needs help with maths. Elsewhere, unwashed dishes and soiled laundry pile up.
Overwhelmed, I lose it and start yelling at the kids, whose fearful faces immediately make me feel worse than I already do.
“Oh crap,” I mutter, only to feel crappier the next moment because I’ve used a “bad word” in front of the children.
Welcome to the world of Mummy guilt, where everything is far from perfect and nothing goes as planned. What’s worse is, you can’t even nd the energy to x it all.
Clinical psychologist Vyda S Chai of Think Psychological Services says almost nine in 10 mums she currently sees in her practice share some form of Mummy guilt. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a CEO of multinational company or a part-timer crunching numbers at home – that nagging guilt is the great mum equaliser.
But believe it or not, this feeling is entirely normal. After all, much of parenting involves “trial and error”, she says.
Here, we ask millennial mummies to share their common guilt trips, and the experts on how to leave that emotional baggage behind.
GUILT TRIP #1 TAKING TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF
You desperately need some time away from the spit-ups and soiled diapers, but don’t feel good leaving your little one with another caregiver. Vyda says one of the most important things mums can do for their kids and marriage is to take time out to do things they love to recharge.
Moreover, it’s not healthy for both mum and child to interact only with each other all the time, says Patricia Koh, chief executive and education ambassador of Maplebear Singapore. Giving your child opportunities to interact with other loving caregivers provides different forms of stimulation that will boost her development too, she adds.
What to do Ease the transition by handing your kid to her new caregiver properly, says Patricia. The early childhood educator advises doing a few practice runs, and not rushing the process.
“Take time to settle your child, and don’t just disappear suddenly after handing her over to the person. It helps if you could sit with your child for a while and interact with her new caregiver so she feels safe,” says Patricia.
It usually takes about a week for most children to get used to a new caregiver or environment. To set your mind at ease, get your child’s caregiver to update you regularly on your little one’s day, she adds.
GUILT TRIP #2 YOU’RE PHYSICALLY THERE, BUT YOUR HEART ISN’T
Knowledgeable, well-read and a whiz at multitasking, millennial mums want it all, which is why more are opting for exi-work or work-fromhome jobs for better work-life balance. But some work-athome mums (WAHM), like 35-year-old freelance designer Jenn Wong, say the reality isn’t always Insta-perfect.
“People always think WAHMs like me get the luxury of spending a lot of time with the kids. For sure, my body is physically there, but my brain tunes them out a lot, especially when I’m rushing deadlines,” says Jenn, whose kids are aged six and two.
What to do Planning ahead and strategising your day will allow you to work more productively at home.
“You can’t expect to do productive work when your kids are around. Divide your day into several blocks of time so you can plan when to do your work, for example, when your child is taking an afternoon nap,” advises Patricia.
Mumpreneur Audrey Tan, 30, says scheduling her work-from-home days helps her better manage her time so she can be emotionally available for her kids, aged two years and seven months old, whenever they need her.
“I’ve learnt to ‘be in the moment’ and not answer workrelated calls at certain times if I can help it. If I can’t t all my work in when the kids are around, I’ll just sleep less,” says the mum boss of Churro101 Singapore, which sells churros.
Vyda says while you should acknowledge your kid’s complaints about your working habits, try not to become overly guilty or apologetic. She adds it is important to not let guilt manifest into unhappiness and anxiety in front of the children.
“Young kids are quite intuitive, especially in regards to their parents. If they sense your guilt and unhappiness, they will pick up on it and react anxiously. Remind yourself that, ultimately, you are working to provide a better living standard for your family,” she says.
GUILT TRIP #3 YOUTUBE IS YOUR GO-TO BABYSITTER
Past research and child development experts say screen time is bad for kids’ development. But frazzled mums, like Jenn, say they use this trusty digital babysitter on a daily basis to reclaim some sanity.
“Parking them in front of Youtube videos probably isn’t good for them – all the experts say so. I feel guilty, but it’s the easiest way to keep them quiet when you need to get some work done at home,” says Jenn.
What to do The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), best known for its previous