The Mammy Guilt

Mammy guilt is a phrase that is now being bandied around regularly, possibly ignited by the fact that the pressure on mammy’s these days is huge. But what is Mammy Guilt exactly? And why do we let ourselves fall prey to it?

Picture this: a well kept, warm and inviting home. The smell of dinner hits your nostrils as you walk in the door. The children are occupied quietly with homework or various arts and crafts. Not an electronic media device in sight. Mummy is effortlessly gliding across the kitchen, apron on, broom in hand, smile on face……Now, lets add on 6 decades and see the contrast between the 1950’s and present day. Well, it would be easier to draw comparison – there is a house, kids and a mum. Everything else is rather different.
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When we think of Mammy Guilt, we think of the mother that hates leaving her kids on a Saturday because she has been at work all week. But this well known guilt trip has evolved. Mothers today are under so much pressure, whether they work full time at home or full time with an employer. One thing both parties have in common is the need to have everything perfect when it comes to raising a family. I have been on both sides of this and have felt the Mammy Guilt in a number of instances:

  • Classic Mammy Guilt – while working full time, any weekend activity that did not involve me spending time with the kids made me feel terrible.
  • Shopping Mammy Guilt – I go to Penny’s to pick up a few bits for me and come home with socks plus 2 bags full of toddler outfits and babygrows. They needed a few bits. Again.
  • Television Mammy Guilt – the baby is crying, the toddler is moving around the sitting room like a mini tornado. I do the unthinkable and turn on the TV so that I can dunk some biscuits into tea. And yes, the baby is looking at it to.
  • Nutrition Mammy Guilt – I fed my toddler a ready made meal. I let my toddler have a sugar loaded juice. My toddler sometimes has a dinner plate that does not contain colours because I am too shattered to get creative in the kitchen.
  • Nappy Mammy Guilt – yep, he’s been in that nappy far too long.
  • Angry Mammy Guilt – I’ve lost it with my toddler and shouted and felt horrible afterwards. I’ve asked the 3 week old baby with the hell she just keeps on crying. And felt quite stupid afterwards.

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There are so many situations, the above are a few honest ones of mine. These days we are overloaded with books on how to raise nutritionally sound, socially adept children; all developmental milestones are hit within a certain timeframe and they don’t see the TV until they are 18 years old. If we so much as stray from this hard and fast rule book, we beat ourselves up and worse yet, judge each other for not maintaining the standard. This is where the guilt comes from – we put the pressure on ourselves.

Motherhood is a rough ride – there are a fair few bumps along the way and it is not possible to be perfect. You will forget to give him lunch on time. You will lose the plot and shout. You need to go out with the girls and let loose on a Friday and feel like crap the next day. You will not have time to sit and interact and play games all day. And you will let the TV do some babysitting sometimes. Its called life, and we must live our own and not judge others for how they live theirs.

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In the words of two famous Craggy Island parishioners – careful now, down with this sort of thing! Mammy Guilt is not good.

Here is my antidote for dealing with Mammy Guilt:

Each day I will do my absolute best to care for my family.

I wont get everything right, but I will learn along the way.

I will take care of myself.

I will hug each one of my kids tight each night and tell them how much I love them.

Before I close my eyes to sleep, I will be proud of myself and the family I have produced.

I am so lucky.

I am a wonderful Mum.
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Blarneymum meets…….

To kick off Blarneymum Meets, I chat with Shaun Venter who works full time taking care of his son Grayson. Originally from New Zealand, Shaun shares his insight into life at home with an energetic 10 month old….

Thank you for doing this interview Shaun. Introduce yourself and tell us about your family.
I’m from NZ, 36 years old, married to Vicki for nearly three years. We have one little boy, Grayson who’s nearly ten months old and we have another baby on the way later this year. I gave up work as a chef to look after Grayson when he was a month old when Vicki went back to work.

What is a typical day like for your and your son?
Grayson wakes between 6 and 7 usually. We have breakfast and play until his nap at 9am which usually lasts for about twenty minutes. In the mornings we do whatever is needed – grocery shopping, housework etc. At the moment the weather is so nice we head to a park or down to the beach when we can. Lunch is around 12; he may or may not have an afternoon nap, if he does it’s usually about half an hour, not much longer. Then it’s more activities or outings until dinner at 5 and bed at 7.30 or so. If Grayson dozes off during the afternoon in the car or somewhere then bedtime is a bit later. He still wakes for a feed during the night. We’re trying to get out of that habit at the moment!

How has becoming a parent changed you?
I just asked Vicki and she said it hasn’t 🙂 – I suppose like everyone I’m more sympathetic or understanding towards other parents. I’m more tired as well. That’s all really I think.

Did you find it hard to transition from corporate life to the life of a full time dad?
We had always agreed that I would stay at home when we had kids so I was looking forward to it. I wasn’t enjoying work at the time I left which probably made it easier. I was hoping there’d be a bit more time for afternoon sleeps on the the couch though! It’s a lot more intense than I had imagined it would be. Ten minutes to yourself when you’re a parent is worth five hours to yourself before kids!

Can being a full time dad in Cork be isolating?
I don’t think so. I suppose it depends on the person – it’s as isolating as you make it. I have friends I meet up with on certain days, family I visit on other days and Grayson and I do activities outside the house as well like swimming which breaks up the week.

What do you do to unwind and ‘de-baby’?
I play a bit of sport and have occasional nights out with friends. It’s always easier when there’s two of you around to share the work. Grayson is a very energetic baby – he never stops so it can be tiring looking after him one on one.

Do you ever suffer from the Daddy Guilts if you are away for a period of time?
Not really, I do miss him when I’m away for a night or whatever. I’s always nice to have a good nights sleep though!

We all have our support network as parents. Who is that one person that you couldn’t be without for parenting advice?
Vicki obviously, we figure most things out together. Her sister lives close by and has four kids so she is always there with advice. My sister lives in America but has a six month old and a three year old so she knows what we’re experiencing. Everyone has an opinion and their own way of doing things but I suppose you have to have confidence in your own knowledge and instincts as well.

Why do you think so many men are reluctant to stay at home to care for children in Ireland? Is it similar in New Zealand?
It’s pretty much the same in NZ as here – I don’t know why really, maybe they’ve heard how hard it is 🙂 I suppose it’s tradition for the mum to stay at home and maybe women don’t want to give it up! I’m really glad I’ve been able to do it. I wouldn’t change the decision to give up work.

And finally, what is the best advice that you have been given as a new dad?
Get them into a routine as early as you can! We didn’t and we really should have!

It’s just a touch of colic

My little girl turns 3 months today – that milestone that is supposed to bring sleep and a more settled baby. I have been counting down the days to this, because we had a ‘colicky baby’. 4 hours screaming a night on average, nothing could settle her. Passing her from mammy to daddy and back again. Rocking, bouncing, swaying, putting her in the buggy…..you name it, we tried it and it failed. I became a Google monster, looking up everything and anything, desperate for a cure. In desperation I turned to my doctor and was told ‘it’s just a touch of colic’ and she will grow out of it.

This enraged me. How can anyone be sure? What is colic anyway? I was not happy to see my little girl suffer and scream in pain. I’m not a first time mum so knew it wasn’t just wind. I persisted and the formula trials began….Comfort, Anti Reflux and then Colief…nothing. Until we tried one last effort – Neocate. It’s a prescription formula that has the cows milk protein broken down (amino based). I suggested it to my doctor after much research. Within 2 weeks I had a new baby.

Neocate is not the answer to everyone’s sleepless newborn nights, that’s not my reason for writing this post. I want to reach out to anyone going through Colic, to say to you to trust your gut and don’t be afraid to take no for an answer. My little girl cannot digest milk protein and was in agony (now confirmed by a paediatrician) so I’m glad I pushed.

I’d also like to share some tips and thoughts that might help anyone in those first few months:

  • Colic or whatever is causing the non stop crying is not your fault.
  • Long crying spells with a baby are damn hard, and will test you and your relationship. Admit how hard it is and have a good cry about it if you need with a friend.
  • Try to remember that all things will pass – visualise the future when you baby is no longer drinking bottles!
  • We all Google symptoms etc – it’s ok to read but but best to check things with a professional
  • Ring formula company help and info lines – they usually can tell you more than some doctors! A good pharmacist is also essential, I found Boots great.
  • Get on line in forums with other mums. Swap ideas with your friends. Speak to your public health nurse.
  • Trust your gut mum/dad…..the primary care giver knows baby best. Have confidence in yourself.
  • Most important – take care of your health, mental and physical. Your little baby cannot get through the this without your love and care and reach out for help when it is needed.

We still don’t sleep through the night in our house, we still feed every 3 hours! But gone are the screaming sessions, and bottle time is not a battle ground. Now we just have to get through the teething….🙄😊

Battle of the Teething Gels

Red cheeked baby, wash basket full of bibs, Mammy and Daddy sleep deprived – just another day in the life of the family with the teething baba. Just when you have them settled and out of the ‘colicky phase’ the next era of grumpy, crying baby begins. And this one lasts a lot longer. We have all heard of the legends of the babies that sailed through the teething phase; it just didn’t bother them says a breezy, chilled out Mum. I have yet to meet one of these mythological, non-teething creatures and so I will side with my scepticism and say that they do not exist.

Luckily, there are quite a few remedies that can be used to help soothe our little darlings as they cut their chompers. Teething gels are often the first reached for and so I have selected three that I currently have in the house to review:

Up first, a classic – Bonjela

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Bonjela is synonymous with all things mouth and gums and Bonjela Teething Gel is a pretty effective pain reliever. It contains Lidocaine Hydrochloride which is a local anaesthetic used to numb the gums. Baby must be over 2 months and Bonjela can only be used up to four times a day – when you have a crying baby, these 4 times can be gone fast!

Next, my preference, Nelson’s Teetha.

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This one is homeopathic and more of a ‘natural’ gel. Also available in powder format which some babies love, and you can actually combine both so long as you stick to the recommended dose. It can be given up to 6 times a day, and is said to help with flushed cheeks also. I find it tends to calm my baby down quickly.

Lastly, Dr. Talbot’s Teething Gel

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This one is all natural, but baby must be over 4 months before you can use it. I tried this one on myself and it is the strongest of the three, so definitely fast acting. However the tutti frutti flavour is very, very overpowering. I gave some to my little girl and she hated it! I can see why – the sensation was very like those lip enhancing lip glosses that make you tingle. Will be storing this one until she is older.

Do you use any other teething gels? What is your experience with the above? Share your experiences and tips with other mums.

 

How to soothe dribble rash

When my son was teething he developed a rash on one cheek from dribbling. Nothing eased it – from sudocrem to steroid cream it persisted. My local chemist recommended La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume – and it cleared within days.

This cream is ideal for sensitive skin that is irritated in some way. It’s paraben and fragrance free and a staple to have in the house.

 La Roche Posay can be bought in lots of chemists and usually available in Boots. I’m a huge fan and also use it as my skincare regime.

Ouch!

It’s vaccination time. Well, actually it was vaccination time a month ago, but it was her christening and then she got sick and then she had to get better and then I forgot and then it was Christmas….

I, like most other human beings, dread the thought of sticking a needle into a cooing little 3 month old! And dread even more the judgemental look of the nurse when I do it late. The thoughts of her being off form etc afterwards…not very encouraging. I know the importance of it, and will do it (after Christmas). Does everyone else comply?

Setting reminder in iPhone now to ring surgery (after Christmas).

I hope I’m not the only bold mammy who is late getting the injections done….