Laying in bed staring at the ceiling with hubby snoring beside me, wishing I didn’t have to get up before the sun to a crying baby instantly had me riddled with mum guilt. The rising tide of anxiety was only fuelled by the overwhelming tiredness from night after night’s attention to a little one whose whole life depended on me. No parenting book prepares us for the mum guilt and anxiety that will follow us around.

Growing up, I was the typical first child with an “A” type personality. I strived to get things right, yearned to feel and have control and also felt the need to be perfect (as we know is BS). I never really suffered from anxiety and feelings of guilt like those I felt once I became a mum. It’s almost as if an internal switch was triggered during childbirth!

Except now I rarely felt like I got things right, hardly ever felt in control and as for perfect… well! And this was hard and tripped me up time and time again. These feelings triggered anxiety which then left me feeling guilty, which is like the worst rollercoaster ride EVER!!

mum guilt

I remember like it was yesterday, the first time I felt robbed of breath, sweaty palms, throbbing head and a heavy heart. It was a few weeks after my first baby was born, I started to have night terrors where I would wake in the middle of the night in a panic, opening drawers and doors of cupboards looking for my baby, frenzied like a panicked teenager who can’t find her iPhone.

As my babies got older, the anxiety still hung around like a bad smell, but what grew was the mum guilt. I would feel guilty for not putting my hand up for canteen duties every Friday. Guilty because I wasn’t the mum who sat at the school morning after morning doing home readers, or on the P&C. Guilty for wanting “me time”, guilty for wanting more from life, guilty for chasing my dreams and goals, living as the best version of me.

The worst part is that as my mum guilt kept growing, my anxiety grew along with it. Guilt and anxiety are like evil twins, when one gets hold of you often the other is just behind!

How to overcome mum guilt and anxiety

1: Start taking notice of my thoughts and feelings

I started keeping a thought and feeling diary, kind of like a food diary. I started to take notice of the trends and patterns that triggered my guilt and anxiety.

When you can notice what’s happening inside you, miracles of change start to happen.

2: Practice Mindful Breathing

When I’d notice I was starting to feel the familiar signs of guilt and anxiety, I would start breathing mindfully with intention. Breathing mindfully simply means focusing on the present moment, the now. I would stop what I was doing and start taking conscious deep breaths in through the nose and out of my mouth.

The trick I tell my clients is to keep taking nice deep breaths in and out until you notice your feet. That’s when you know you’re in your body and not caught up in your head which, at times, is a freaky scary place. Coming back to your breathing feels like coming home, lowers the blood pressure and quietens down the mind from it’s racing thoughts.

3: Take a step back AND take back control

After I have calmed my nervous system down through conscious, intentional breathing, I would take a step back and take back control.
Think of it like being a fly on the wall. Here’s a questioning technique you can try that I used (this is empowering beyond measure)

Questions to ask:

“What’s the worst that could happen?”
“What can I do to prevent the worst from happening?”
“What can I do if the worst happens?”

4: Embrace an attitude of gratitude and appreciation

I know that you have probably heard this before perhaps on a Youtube video or past Oprah show, but it’s totally true. Time after time when I am all caught up in a state of mum guilt and anxiety stepping into a state of gratitude breaks the cycle.

The favourite way of stepping into a state of gratitude that I love and use myself and teach my clients is by stopping whatever it is I am doing. Taking some deep breaths, then looking around for things to be grateful for.

Look for the little things. For example, as I sit here typing I am grateful for the beautiful pink flowers on my table, their colour is vibrant which make me feel good.

I can see my gorgeous dog spread out on the rug near me and I am grateful for her unconditional love, if I listen closely I can hear birds signing in my back yard somewhere, simply listening to their song lifts me up.

Can you see, look for the little things right at the moment that you can give gratitude towards and you will feel your entire energy and thoughts change.

It’s impossible to feel grateful and anxious at the same time.

5: Give yourself a pat on the back

As a mum life gets crazy busy from time to time, and there is a lot to do. Give yourself a pat on the back for all the things you do. You are doing an incredible job juggling and looking after, everybody.

It’s important you also look after yourself and do things that are just for you and that light your heart on fire. Just because you’re a mum doesn’t mean you are to forget about you.
Move your body every day.
Take 10 minutes a day to meditate or journal your thoughts and feelings.
Surround yourself with people that help you feel better about yourself and that are helping you grow as a person instead of keeping you stuck.
Be sure you drink more water and eat well…Your body will thank you for it and your mind will follow.

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Hey, I’m Ang! Leading DreamBuilder coach, business success mentor, international best selling author of The Messy Mum’s Playbook, mum and the founder of the Firefly Academy and Firefly DreamBuilder.

Plus I am blessed to stand alongside women helping them ignite the best versions of themselves so they can achieve their goals & dreams.