Sleep Deprivation, Mother Guilt And Why We Need to Stop The Glorification Of “Busy”

 

This past week was probably the most sleep deprived I have ever been in my entire life!  I was working and traveling across the country to film a documentary based on one of my blog posts, all while I had a very sick toddler attached to my boob! Oh the mother guilt…

I have breastfed three children and at the time of writing this have been breastfeeding for a total of seven years.  With all three of them I have co-slept, breastfed on demand and spent most days and nights with my three children during this time which means that I have pretty much been sleep deprived for the past eleven years. From either frequent night waking to being pregnant, breastfeeding, being a working mum with kids in tow, being the main care-taker 24/7 for all of my children, working outside the home, working in the home or a combination of all of them at various times.

Unfortunately in our culture “busyness” equals awesomeness. The busier we are, the more people want to praise us and gasp in awe at “how we do it all”.  Yet we are all exhausted, we are all over-worked and we all get to complain sometimes without feeling as though we need to defend our complaints.  Yup, the mum who goes to work feels judged for not spending as much time with her kids as the stay at home mum.  The stay at home mum feels judged that she is not seen as important and “busy” as the mum who goes to work every day. The work with the kids attached to the boob mum (myself) who is a mixture of both feels guilty that she ignores her kids too much and feels like she is in the in-between galaxy not really sure where she fits in…So who gets the award for “Busiest most awesomely amazing mum”?!  We all do! So grab your ticket to collect your crown…

 

I read an article about Victoria Beckham and what her day is like…fashion meetings, running here, running there, mostly just seeing her kids in the morning before work and at night. You are left with this sense of respect and see her as this glamorous superwoman.  Well you know what? The mum who stays home cooking, cleaning, putting on load of laundry, making snacks, wiping butts and noses, picking up toys, being bored, hungry, exhausted, stressed to the max all within ten minutes…she is superwoman too.  Yet for some reason she is not see as “amazing” or “how does she do it” with JUST one baby. You are only seen as amazing if you have more than ten kids, a dog and a parrot…and/or work outside the home.

The truth of the matter is that there is nothing amazing and awesome about looking “busy”. There is nothing about me and my “working life” that makes your “life at home” any less awesome.  There is nothing about my “busy” life that makes me more productive than your “quiet” life at home taking care of your family and house.  There is no point in comparing me; a working mum of three with a toddler attached to my boob, with the mum who works outside the home and pumps three times a day while eating her snacks or lunch trying to get a let-down or the mum at home breastfeeding day and night.  We all have moments where we are busy, bored, excited, emotionally drained and most of the time we are all exhausted.  I have worked with and without my children, I have also homeschooled and was a 100% stay at home mother.  I will tell you now…no matter how you are “working” YOU ARE WORKING! There is no point comparing and defending our versions of work and “busyness” or whether or not we deserve to complain sometimes…

For the breastfeeding mums who are working (so this means EVERY. SINGLE. ONE OF YOU…whether the work is in, or outside the home).

1. Take the time to sit and do nothing. This might mean on the floor so your kids can crawl all over you. That’s fine! At least you are not moving.  😀

2. Don’t stretch yourself thin if you can help it. Do slow cooker meals as often as you can during the week and shower at night so you are not rushed in the morning. Breastfeed in the morning, when you return from work and during the night to help your supply and give you lots of opportunities for cuddles.

3. Breastfeeding can be a good excuse to sit.  Try to do this frequently during the day and cancel plans if you need some extra rest. If you work outside the home, sometimes you need to call in sick for a mental health day so you can catch up on rest. Even if you are not sleeping, you can stop moving and just hang out with your kids or breastfeed your little one.

 

4. Some days you will need to leave the laundry, leave the dishes and leave the toys all over the floor. Your house does not have to be perfect. Every mother should own this sign…

The Guilt…The Guilt…The Guilt…The Guilt…The Guilt…The Guilt…

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As work away from home mums we feel guilty for not being home enough with our kids. For putting them in daycare and not packing enough healthy snacks. We worry about the bad words they will be learning from their friends and wonder what they are doing at any given moment. We then feel guilty as we get home because we have dinner to cook still, a mess to pick up and our kids are running around like lunatics.  We feel guilty and wonder if it would be calmer if we were home with them more often. We feel guilty because although we would love to be at home more with our kids, we do love our work and can’t imagine being home every day all day with them.

 

1072201_511939265526596_973184948_oAs a stay at home mum we feel guilty for not getting out enough.  We feel guilty that our kids do not have enough social interaction with other kids their age.  We feel guilty that we ignored them while we read our book (OK fine, watched TV!) for twenty minutes.  We feel guilty that our kids wanted to play pretend AGAIN and we tried to get out of it because it is SOOOOOOO BORING SOMETIMES.  We feel guilty that we would love to have a break and be by ourselves. We feel guilty because we know we are so lucky to be able to stay home with our kids but still don’t love it at every moment and sometimes think about what it will be like when we return to our old jobs.

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As a work from home mum we feel guilty that we were on the computer for too long while our kids had to play by themselves or that we have to boob them while typing.  We feel guilty because we think they are not getting enough social interaction.  We feel guilty that we are not scheduling our daily lives better to have an equal balance of play, work and household duties.  We feel guilty that we have not made the right decision by trying to work from home and wonder if the insanity of it all is worth the money. While writing this I have felt guilty for sitting here doing work instead of playing with my kids…

We all feel guilty. We are all too busy. We all get defensive at times when we read something about “how hard it is” being a working/stay at home/work in the home/ mum…because we are all exhausted, we are all guilty and we are all feeling the same things.

Keep telling yourself that you are a great mother, because you are.  Keep doing the best you can because that is all that us mums are doing.  Keep telling yourself that we all feel guilty no matter what we decide to do, because it’s the truth. We can combine mothering through breastfeeding with all of these work activities but we will always feel guilty about it, so you mine as well stay positive, look in the mirror and pat yourself on the back.  You are doing a great job.

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If you would like my newsletter, ”Boobie Chronicles” sign up here! This way you will receive my breastfeeding articles right in your inbox when I post them.