Is being a selfless mother being a good mother?

Let’s face it the minute you have a baby everything else seems to fade away and nothing is more important that than baby.  But, it is such a massive change it may not instantly feel right that everything to do with you is now secondary.  This is where that dreaded mum guilt comes into play.  We all think that we have to be a completely selfless mother.  At the same time we are all supposed to be finding time for self care.  My head is spinning!  Is yours?  Which to do first?  How to be a selfish and selfless mother?  Can I do both? 

selfless mother

Well here are a few ways that you know you are a selfless mother…

  • You haven’t had a warm cup of coffee (except when at work) since your child was born
  • You clean up seemingly endless piles of poo and wee and you don’t even bat an eyelid
  • You spend hours watching your children putting on a show and don’t begrudge the time wasted
  • You pack for holiday and when you get there realise the children have 30 outfits a day and you didn’t bring a bra for yourself
  • You sleep on the floor by your child’s bedside just so they will sleep
  • You look at your car crash of a stomach and instead of longing for your six pack back (I never had one by the way) the stretchmarks remind you of the awesome baby you carried
  • You turn off the Real Housewives so that your kids can watch C Beebies
  • You spend hours and hours of your life at soft play and manage not to sit in the corner rocking
  • You give your kid your last Rolo – or at least you would if you let them eat sugar
  • You don’t buy those red soled shoes so that you can get that bigger nappy bag

selfless mother

Obviously I am slightly being silly and messing about with this list, but really once you are a mummy you do have to be selfless at least to a certain degree.  A small baby is helpless and needs you to everything for them.  When they are little all day they depend on you for everything and are incapable of doing so much that is is just natural that mummy fills that gap.  When my eldest was born I felt such a weight of responsibility in the early days.  It used to actually make me panic that I was responsible for keeping another human alive!!  Of course I got over this and 8 years in I am now concerned about how I will manage once my youngest children start school.  What will I do with myself now that I can be a less selfless mother?  I will have some 6 hours a day which I could spend on whatever I want to do!!

Does Being a Selfless Mother make you a good mother?

I am going to say not necessarily at least not in my experience.  For me being entirely selfless and putting the kids first all the time made me frustrated.   I felt like everything was a mission.  If I am truly honest I begrudged it sometimes.  As I said before small babies and children have to entirely depend on you, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still do something for yourself to stop you from going crazy!  Finding a balance is, I think, the key.

Finding a Balance

I was not good at this when my kids were very little and struggled to find the balance between being a selfless mother and just forgetting all about myself.  This level of putting yourself last ALL THE TIME is just not good for a person in my opinion.  I was happy with my family and with my life and yet was also really down. Looking back I know that this was because I literally did nothing for me.  I know I am not alone in feeling like this!  So to those of you reading this who currently feel like they don’t matter as long as their kids are ok please know it is fine to save a bit of time for you.  In fact now that I have come out of the side of having 4 under 4 I am 100% sure that I am a better mother now that I do make a bit of time for me. 

Finding a balance

Sometimes I say no!

Sometimes I am not that selfless mother these days.  I do sometimes say ‘ no’ I can’t stop what I am doing or not finish my food.  It is ok to say I will help you with keeping colouring in the lines in a minute! Saying ‘No’ and prioritising me actually makes me a better mother.  I am less frustrated and frankly irritated.  When I am with my kids and playing I am really in it.  I am present as I am not thinking about what else I need to do or want to do.  I have scheduled time for me and for the things I need to do so play time is play time.  Don’t get me wrong I have not got this thing nailed, but I am for sure finding a balance that works better for me.  I hope that you can do this too and find a balance that works for you.

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30 thoughts on “Is being a selfless mother being a good mother?

  1. Hi Kirsty, as soon as I spotted this on twitter I knew I had to read it - I feel like you are writing about me! I have had such a struggle with this subject because I am that selfless mother who for the last four years has done very little for herself. But in the last year I've come to realise how important it is that this stops. It turns out it wasn't good for any of us because I was getting more and more frustrated and down as time went on and children begin to pick up on that mood. They can sense it. So I realised it was time to start being a bit selfish and things are getting better. You come to realise that your children don't need you every single minute of the day, they can survive for a little while without you. So I will definitely stand up and say - being a selfless mother does not mean being a good mother. Great article!
    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I was a bit concerned about this one as I wasn't sure that everyone would understand so its great to know that someone else feels the same. As my girls head off to school this week I am glad that I started the process of being more selfish in advance or right now I would be panicking about what to do... As it is I am a bit daunted and sad, but also excited for me time!
  2. So spot on here. I’ve really struggled finding any type of balance. Luckily my husband has been amazing and has enabled me to have some me time. To shower, sleep, eat dinner etc. We have an 11 week old baby! #DreamTeam
    1. Oh goodness 11 weeks old - you are right in the thick of it! My husband was really helpful too. It is so important to get some time. Having a shower in peace is heaven... #DreamTeam
  3. So much of mothering seems to come back to balance. Kids need to know they are special and important, even that they are a priority for us, but they also need to remember that mothers are actual people--and we are not on their payroll. Definitely a tightrope walk!
    1. My kids are definitely not happy that mummy is a person with her own things to do too ha ha! Balance is for sure the key. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  4. I think it is about a balance and a bit selfless or selfish is both good to get the right balance and not get burnt out X #dreamteam
    1. Balance is for sure the key and yet hard to achieve!! #DreamTeam
  5. I suffer a lot with parent guilt and overthinking. I've spent the last six years trying to be the very best Dad I can be. And I know I'll look back in later life with very few regrets. But I still have moments when I crave me time etc. You're absolute right it should be about finding the right balance. Great read. #dreamteam
    1. Thanks Neil. I was chatting to a local dad at football last week and he was saying how he also struggles with finding the balance. It made me think we always talk about mum guilt, but never dad guilt. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  6. The amount of time I've packed and forgotten my own pyjamas just isn't a joke! #dreamteam
    1. Right!! I never know what is in my packed bag and yet they all have 3000 outfits! #DreamTeam
  7. I think the ability to say No to them all, comes with maturity and confidence. As you say, 8 years in, I'm trying ... #dreamteam
    1. I am definitely still learning and battling with the inner mum guilt! #DreamTeam
  8. When my little one first came along, i felt this overwhelming feeling that i had to be the one to do absolutely everything for her. That meant that i didn't accept much (if any) outside help, as well as feeling incredibly guilty if my partner did some of the night feeds to give me a break. I'm not sure that kind of selflessness was healthy. Almost 2 years on and I accept all the help i can get. #DreamTeam
    1. I know exactly what you mean. I remember totally freaking out and feeling so guilty when I left my first child with my husband to get haircut. I am glad that you have been able to accept help now - me too ;) Great to have you with us on the #DreamTeam
  9. I completely get this! I'm still struggling to get a balance though. I've always tried to be 100% there all the time for my children (particularly my eldest) but to be honest, it's been sending me round the twist! I know they need me, but I need my own time too, so that I can be a good mum. I'm starting to accept that if I can say no to them occasionally, and even have a couple of hours to myself now and again (and not just to do a supermarket shop!) I'll actually be a lot more fun and a lot more patient than I have been recently. And we'll all benefit from that! #dreamteam
    1. Yep - that is where I am at. I just can't come last all the time as it made me ultimately frustrated and sad. It is sometimes a struggle for me as I want to do everything for them and be 100% for them, but I know that it sends me loopy. The balancing act goes on #DreamTeam
  10. I've struggled (and continue to if I'm honest) with the balance. I have a small amount of clothes, haircuts in a nice salon have become a thing of the past, but I have recently managed to find a good mobile hairdresser. I used to wear lovely underwear and have my nails done, now I'm lucky if things match and my nails are cut short. #DreamTeam
    1. That sounds just like me. I used to spend loads on personal care and underwear. Now I for sure come last, but I am trying to shift the balance a bit. #DreamTeam
  11. Kirsty! This is so on point! I think so many of us mums feel this way. The little ones always come first and before you know it, you've put yourself at the back of the line. Way, way, way behind everyone else's needs including the cat, dog and goldfish.... possibly even the neighbours and sometimes even the dollies. It's definitely time to take back the balance. Because great mums aren't at the back of the line. #DreamTeam xx
    1. Awh thanks lovely. I love the idea that mums aren't great at the back of the line. It is so true. We can't do what we need to from the back! #DreamTeam
  12. Balance is the key. I think that if we don't find some time for ourselves sometimes we'd go nuts. Its a learning curve to be sure though #dreamteam
  13. Hi back from the #dreamteam !
    1. I think it's REALLY important to have me time as a mum too, and if some people think that's selfish then so be it! #DreamTeam
  14. I definitely agree that there needs to be a balance to parenting - and all aspects of life! #DreamTeam
  15. Kirsty. Great post. Plus saying no, or not now or you'll have to wait is a good thing not just for giving yourself back a bit of yourself but also in helping your kids learn that other people and things matter too and they should not come first all the time despite absolutely everything and everyone. they will be more considerate people for it too x #dreamteam
    1. That is so true. So many kids are so very entitled and I hate it when my kids behave in that way so I do hope that I am able to teach them whilst also helping me! #DreamTeam
  16. […] What mum doesn’t worry about their own mindset? Whether that is feeling crazy by the end of the day, or even feeling the loneliness that can come with motherhood. It isn’t spoken about enough, and it is so important to surround yourself with positive people who will help support you. Especially on those days where you are feeling tired and drained. It is so very hard to remember yourself when your children need so much, but we need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of them! […]
  17. […] What mum doesn’t worry about their own mindset? Whether that is feeling crazy by the end of the day, or even feeling the loneliness that can come with motherhood. It isn’t spoken about enough, and it is so important to surround yourself with positive people who will help support you. Especially on those days where you are feeling tired and drained. It is so very hard to remember yourself when your children need so much, but we need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of them! […]

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