Mum Guilt

When William was born I was as prepared as I thought possible. My freezer was full of healthy meals that I could eat one handed, I’d read books about newborns, I’d been to antenatal classes, and I’d watched more youtube videos on breastfeeding that I care to admit! The nursery was equipped, I had a bouncer chair and a baby carrier- frankly, I felt sorted! I knew that I would be tired (I underestimated how tired though), I knew that I would have less  no me-time and I knew that it would be a steep learning curve. There was however, one part of motherhood that I was completely unprepared for – guilt. 

I say sorry to Will literally hundreds of times a day: sorry I have to change your nappy, sorry but you can’t eat dog biscuits, sorry your milk isn’t ready yet, sorry your upset, sorry I don’t know what the matter is, sorry you have to have vaccinations today, sorry but you can’t play with plug sockets/mobile phone chargers/all wires! Sorry, sorry, sorry! It seems most of my day is spent apologising, and whilst some of these apologies are rather tongue in cheek, far more of them are completely sincere, guilt-ridden sorries.

This was particularly true in the first few months after Will was born. Despite attending all the classes, watching all the videos, spending a day back in the maternity unit, and getting help from various midwives, Will refused to latch on and breastfeed. This led to a huge amount of anxiety and guilt on my part. I felt that I was failing my son. It was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world and yet for some reason we couldn’t make it work. In the end I expressed milk for 10 months; it worked well for us and we fell into our own way of doing things, but the guilt remained. The rational side of me knew that I was a.) doing my best and b.) that formula feeding was also a perfectly acceptable way to feed a baby, but the new Mum side of me felt dreadful.

Breastfeeding wasn’t the only thing I felt guilty about – I felt guilty about giving Will dummy (I have no idea why I felt this was in some way bad, I just did), I felt guilty when after 9 months of no sleep we tried controlled-crying (controversial but a total life saver for us), I felt guilty when Will caught a cold off me, the list is literally endless, and quite often completely irrational!

Recently my Mum-guilt is related to my return to work. Will turns one on Thursday (where has my baby boy gone?) and I start work the following week. I have been determined to spend as much quality time together this week as I can. I  have been making the most of every day and doing lots of fun things together like swimming, going to the beach and playing on the swings. All this ‘making the most of my time with Will’ along with moving house in two weeks has left me with very little spare time. So today I made a compromise, and you guessed it, I feel terribly guilty about it. Will’s birthday isn’t going to be the sugar-free paddington bear cake I had planned, its a Marks & Spencer caterpillar cake. Will he get to eat any? No. Will he care? No. He would much rather play for an hour (or six) than sit in his highchair watching me panic over a sponge! I will probably look back at photos of Will’s birthday tea party and cringe that he had a shop bought cake that I wouldn’t let him eat, but I will also remember that by making that decision, I got to spend more time with my precious boy.

From what other parents have told me, the guilt never goes. There is something about being a parent that makes you feel like any decision you make is the wrong one. So as Will reaches his first birthday I have set myself a new year’s resolution. I am going to learn to embrace Mum-guilt, remembering that whatever the decision may be, us Mums are all doing what we think is best for our children. It may not always be popular, and it may not always be right, but its always with the best of intentions.




The End of Maternity Leave



His first morning at home

I always knew that my maternity leave would come to an end, but when I received an email from my boss with the subject ‘return to work meeting’ I was utterly gobsmacked! Have I really spent a WHOLE year off work? The answer it would seem, is yes – and so begins my transition from full-time Mum to full-time working Mum; and to be honest I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.


I tend to get the same, clichéd responses from people when I mention returning to work, that tend to revolve around the idea that it will be ‘nice for me to have adult conversations again’ or that it will be good to do something ‘just for me’, or that it will be ‘a nice break from being at home’. I’m pretty sure that none of these people have ever worked full-time with a baby. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes (usually after a long day with a baby that hasn’t napped) I do think that being at work would be easier than being a stay- home mum, but this is short-lived. The reality, I feel, is going to be quite different! I like to think I’m organised, but some days I struggle to get my son and I dressed, fed and ready to leave the house by 9am, so how I will manage all this an hour earlier is utterly beyond me! I also haven’t been away from my job long enough to describe it as ‘a break’, I can still vividly remember leaving late, missing lunch breaks and running around like a headless chicken trying to meet deadlines. The truth is though, that I love my job, I always have. I have wonderful work colleagues and I want to return to work, I just have some concerns.

Aside from the fact that I still can’t do up any of the skirts and dresses I used to wear to work, the most obvious concern I have is leaving Will at nursery.  I thought choosing a nursery would be really difficult. I planned to visit lots, I read up on what questions I should ask and what I should look for. In the end though, it was and easy decision. I visited a Montessori nursery and instantly felt it was the right place for Will.  As with all parenting, sometimes its best to just go with your gut. So at least I’m content that he’s going to be looked after somewhere excellent. But I still haven’t really got to grips with the idea of leaving him every day; I haven’t left him for longer than a few hours yet, so that’s going to be a struggle for him and for me.

First sand castle (well, sort of, it was my sandcastle really, he bashed at it with a  rake and then face-planted it).


I’m sure I’m not the only Mum who is concerned that they may have de-skilled after a year at home looking after their children. My profession (I’m a hospital pharmacist) changes rapidly and keeping abreast of the changes takes work; work that for the last year I haven’t done – at all! What I have done however, is gained a whole range of new, transferable, and infinitely more useful skills. I never appreciated just how much us Mums multitask: I can now do a huge number of things at once, one-handed, whilst wrestling a baby. I don’t expect my drinks to be hot or my meals to be on time, and I can (just about) function on next to no sleep! Us Mums are able to prioritise everything but ourselves on a daily basis; parenting truly makes you selfless and this is a wonderful attribute. So de-skilled? Absolutely not!

If Motherhood has taught me anything in the last year though, its that I am so much stronger, and so much more capable than I thought I was. Looking after a baby can be a real challenge, and I think we all have days when we feel we can’t cope, but somehow we muddle along and get through it, one day at a time. Going back to work inevitably going to be a challenge; but it can’t be harder than the first couple of days with a newborn! So for now I’m going to be optimistic about my return, enjoy my last week of maternity leave and buy a new work wardrobe!

If anyone has any tips to make the transition easier I’d love to hear them!

First stay in a hotel