Being a good enough mother
What is a good enough mother?
So many of us beat ourselves up for not being a “good enough mother.” The responsibility and pressure of being a mother can begin before your baby is even born, with choices like the type of birth you choose through to your diet choices whilst pregnant, and buying all the latest toys and equipment.
After you have had your baby, you are faced with choices about breastfeeding, decisions about going back to work, and there is often pressure to lose your “baby weight.”
You can feel very scrutinised and one “bad” choice can make you feel guilty. It is very common for these feelings of guilt to run all the way through motherhood. This does not mean that you are a bad mum. All too often we are our own worst critic, and we can be cruel and uncompassionate to ourselves.
Ask yourself when was the last time you laughed out loud? When was the last time you felt physically relaxed, or did some exercise or something solely for you?
Schedule one of these sorts of activities regularly. Do something that will make you laugh, smile or relax. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. It doesn’t have to cost any money. Maybe it’s seeing a friend, phoning someone, watching a film, spending time with a loved one, or doing something silly or fun.
To a certain extent, not putting yourself first and thinking about your own needs goes hand in hand with being a mother. Whilst many mothers can identify with feeling stressed, worried and low, sometimes these feelings can become overwhelming, and can lead to depression or anxiety.
Getting the balance between caring for a child and caring for yourself is part of the work that I do with women. In the first couple of therapy sessions we would typically work on understanding the links between your thoughts, feelings, sensations and behaviour. I would encourage you to notice the sorts of thoughts and beliefs you have and to reflect on how these impact your life. This is a typical method in CBT where we look at what is switching on a problem and how we might switch it off or reduce the intensity of your symptoms.
If you can relate to some of the problems described in this article and feel that you would like support, it is important that you seek help. It is not shameful or weak. It is courageous.
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