As a mother, I am constantly cursed by guilt. Not because I have sneaked the last slice of cake or their favourite chocolate sent from Grandma (okay well maybe I have!!!), but from feeling paralysed with guilt that I am an inadequate mother and when I take time out for myself, whether this is taking a bath on my own or going to the supermarket alone I am plagued with a feeling of nausea, judging myself for every moment I don’t spend with my daughters.
It seems by speaking with other mothers I am not the only one.
So why do we judge ourselves as mothers, feel sick and guilty when we take time for ourselves and how can we practice being present so we can actually enjoy these precious moments we actually do have to ourselves?
Taking time to find some resolutions – without an ounce of guilt –
I referred back to Patanjali’sYoga Sutras – The Yamas and Niyamas – The first two from the Raja’s Yoga eight limbed path to help me lead a healthier, happier and guilt free life with my children.
Yamas – Refer to social discipline or restraints
Ahimsa – Non Harming – Be gentle to myself and others, by refraining from not only physical violence, criticism and judgement.
Let go of any feelings of self-judgement or self criticism which can otherwise amount to unnecessary guilt.
Satya – Truthfulness – Avoidance of falsehoods and fabrications. So don’t nip out for half and hour and come back 4 hours later. Be honest if you need 4 hours to take a bath or some retail therapy take it. (I’ve learnt it always best to over-estimate how much time you need then you can retrieve yourself of any guilt if you get home sooner than expected – hmm not to sure if that is still practicing Satya!!!)
Asteya – Non stealing – Do not take what belongs to someone else. So don’t allow any free time you take sneak over into someones elses if you only have an hour free before you need to watch your child’s football match – don’t do too much so you’re late for them.
Brahmacharya – Moderation – Avoid excesses in all areas. Seek balance, harmony and peace in all areas of your life! I like to create a spiderwebs to help me look at the Brahmacharya in my life. This is adapted from The Artist Way – Julian Cameron
Draw a circle and divide it into six equal slices one for spirituality, exercise, work, play, family, friends, romance. Place a dot in each section to represent the degree you feel fulfilled or balanced in this part of your life. (outer rim signifies great and inner circle not so). Create your spiderweb by connecting the dots and seeing if your life is out of balance, then devise strategies to create ways to practice Brahmacharya in your life?
Aparigraha – Non possessiveness – Abstain from greediness, hoarding or possessing beyond ones needs. Not only can we be attached to things, thoughts, feelings we can also become too attached to our children and when this happens it is possible that we don’t fully appreciate the true essence of who they are.
Let go of any thoughts or feelings you have that you are an inadequate mum and learn to practice non-possessiveness and detachment in your relationship with your children, so you can both enjoy time alone. (I like to practice this one to rid myself of any guilt if I do indulge in a 4 hour bath, wine, candles, music, book….)
Niyamas – Individual discipline or observances.
Saucha – Purity. Cleanse the mind of any negative, thoughts, emotions. Remember the mind and body work together, hand-in-hand. When we find ourselves caught up in a cycle of toxic thoughts and emotions, our body tunes into this and we can in turn become frustrated and irritable, as we feel tense in our body, in turn we feel guilty for being short-tempered, then judge ourselves and the cycle begins again.
Santosha – Contentment. Stop comparing ourselves to other mothers, comparison is accompanied by judgement and then there can be no contentment. By practicing mindful living with our children we can consciously experience the things that make us happy, holding hands, cuddling up together and sharing a story and just ‘being’ with our children.
Tapas – Austerity. It means committment and being passionate. Be committed to being mindful and fully attentive to the present moment. By being totally engaged 110% with our children when we spend time together helps to erase any feelings of inadequacies and guilt.
Svadhyaya – Self – Study/Self-observation. Be aware, why do we experience pangs of guilt..why do we judge ourselves as a mother…what provokes us being short-tempered with our children?
Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender to the energy of the universe.
Each moment we spend with or without our children should be done with meaning, truth and clarity.
Remembering that as we practice being mindful and living in the present moment we can only deepen our relationships with our children and enhance our experience as a mother – guilt free.
This made me laugh and cry when my daughters showed me this on my birthday….