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Our Favourite Reasons to Ditch Parent Guilt

We know that parents can't be perfect all the time, but that doesn't stop them feeling bad when they work too much or yell to often. Here are some reasons why you should banish that guilty feeling

 

Chances are, if you're a parent, you've experienced 'parent guilt'. That's when you worry if you work too much, work too little, are too hard on your kids, or perhaps you're too easy. Sometimes you feel all these things at once. Basically when you have parent guilt, you can't win.

Guilt as a working parent

Working parents seem to get guilted the hardest about their choices, sometimes from outside parties but often more by themselves. Don't let it get to you. You are being a positive role model for your children.

Nope, you're not hurting them

According to a study conducted by the University College London, there is absolutely no proof that going off to work (either full or part time) has a negative effect on young children. In fact, having working role models can have a positive effect.

It's about quality time, not just 'time'

"Presenteeism" isn't just in the office. Kids have a lot to say and want to know you're listening. Checking your phone and saying, "uh huh" isn't going to cut it, you need to really listen to them, even when it's "child-talk" about their day.

Working is good for you, and for your kids

Working parents are also less likely to suffer from depression than their stay-at-home counterparts, a study has shown. It's especially true in the case of single mums who are 15% less likely to be depressed if they work.

Extra money helps the whole family

A little extra income makes everything easier and lowers stress on the family. Depending on your situation, it makes a lot of difference.

Good quality childcare? There's nothing to worry about

No one will ever replace you as 'mum', but let's face it, sometimes the professionals can be better at some things, so relax.

Guilt as a stay-at-home parent

Being a stay-at-home parent comes with its fair share of guilt as well. But you are doing an amazingly difficult and important job, and don't let anyone (especially yourself) tell you otherwise. Remember, your job at home makes it easier for your partner to be able to work.

Guilt because you can stay home

Most stay-at-home parents aren't sitting around popping chocolates in their mouths and idly watching telly all day. Being at home is hard work. Even when you're not cooking and cleaning, watching and entertaining children is exhausting work, both mentally and physically.

Not being able to say what you did all day

Believe us, we know you've done a lot. The day goes by in a whirlwind of nappy changes, flying puree and wiping the same counter clean about five times. You may not get to the to-do list but let's be honest, neither does everyone in the office.

You're not superhuman

Just because you stay at home doesn't mean you need to turn into THE. MOST. PERFECT. PARENT. EVER! What do you mean there are piles of laundry undone? You don't make your own soap? Making baby food from scratch fills you with dread?

Is your child safe? Is your child happy? Good job!

You feel you're not contributing financially

Think about how much you do and what it would cost to pay someone to do it. You staying home allows your partner to work late, travel and fully focus on their job. That has financial merit. In fact, an ad from Interflora proposed that that salary of a stay at home parent would be £170,000. The figure comes from an estimation of 40 hours a week, plus 79 hours a week of overtime for jobs such as teacher, chauffeur, psychologist, housekeeper, head chef and personal assistant.

Guilt that all parents feel

You don't want to play with your child

Most children's games are both exhausting and boring. You are not alone, most parents will agree that they dread the "mummy/daddy, will you play dolls with me?" Have no fear, sometime it's ok to make your cuppa, pick up the paper and leave them to play on their own. Dr David Whitebread, senior lecturer in psychology and education at Cambridge University says that playing with your children actually stifles their creativity. They need 'child-led' playing. Other times, suggest something you know you both enjoy.

You yell

So it's not the best, but at last check you were human, we all do it. As long as it's not the predominate way you communicate with your kids and you're not saying anything cruel, it happens. And psychologist George Holden of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas says, "A bit of yelling is good for kids. If you're angry at the child, it's sometimes okay to express that emotion so the child can learn to cope with negative emotion in other people."

You employ the iNanny or TV on occasion

Are you buying yourself a well-deserved thirty minutes extra in bed on a Sunday morning? Is it the only way dinner gets cooked? As long as you're not leaving them for hours at a time and you make sure what they're watching/playing is appropriate, you're okay.

You give them sweets

If it's not their whole diet and they mostly eat well, what's a childhood without an occasional ice-cream? Just make an effort to use sweets sparingly.

Getting rid of art or toys

You can't keep everything your child makes, keep your favourites and then discuss with your child how you need to get rid of some. Take a photo of the work so you still "have it". As for toys and clothes etc., get your children involved - explain how they've outgrown them and how they will make another child really happy if you donate them to charity.

Finally... give yourself a break

Being a parent is difficult enough without the added pressure of (usually self-inflicted) guilt. If you have happy, healthy kids then whatever you're doing, you're doing it right.

 

 
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The crèche allowed me to fully participate in the business of conference: debates, votes, speeches, lunchtime fringes and, at one point, a campaign meeting. Without it, I could not have attended at all. With the crèche, I had the best of both worlds: regular cuddles with my son grounding me in between policy debates and ministerial Q&As.
Rachel, Liberal Democrats, Conference Crèche