When do you experience the most guilt? Is it during the day as you go through your daily activities, always half aware of everything that you are not doing? Or maybe at night, as the house gets quiet and you are alone with your thoughts?
For me, the most guilt-ridden time for me was the five to ten minutes after my children have gone to bed. When my eldest daughter was a toddler, she wasn’t great at going to bed properly (she’s not really that good now and she is nearly a teenager!). After a day of running around after her and trying to be the perfect parent, my patience was always running thin by bedtime, and way too often our last conversation would be me getting annoyed at her for still being awake and would she just go to bed already!?? I’d go downstairs tired and frustrated, and already gnawing away with guilt inside that my daughter who had really done nothing wrong was taking the brunt of my tiredness. A few minutes later, I would go upstairs and she would be asleep, and it that moment I felt like the worst parent ever, and I swore that in the morning, I would try harder to stay patient, to be attentive, to do all of the 1001 things that we are told as parents we have to do otherwise we are not good parents. But she used to wake up at 5am, and my 5am brain forgot completely about my promise and started immediately on the ‘it’s not fair, I’m so tired’ routine – and off we would go again.
I realised that waiting for the time when I was already stressed was way too late – I needed to set the intention when I was calm and also work out a way to get more rest so that I wasn’t so strung out by the end of the day. We are all told to sleep when the baby sleeps, but for me that became sleep when the toddler sleeps. I realised that looking after myself was more important than the household chores that I would usually end up doing, and by having a nap when she napped, I was able to stay true to the way I wanted to be and was less inclined to have those emotional hijacks that make you feel so terrible when you look back.
So what is your time? When do you feel the most guilty and what could you do differently to avoid that moment?