AM I A GOOD ENOUGH MUM?

What are your guilt trips? Learn how you can leave that emo­tional bag­gage be­hind.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - C NTENTS -

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

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