Why making room for your OWN needs doesn’t make you a #BadMum

Mum on bed with kids drinking mug of coffee

My name is Karina. I’m a mum and I love my kids fiercely. But I rarely cook their meals from scratch. Sometimes I skip their baths. And I let them watch way too much TV …

I shout at them, sometimes. I’m rubbish at baking. I hate craft with a passion. I always look forward to them going to bed. I eat chocolate late at night. Sometimes it’s their chocolate. Sometimes we stay home all day because I can’t be arsed getting them ready for a day out. 

Does any of this make me a #badmum? Hell, no. I’m a great mum – I just happen to be human as well.

I’m done putting myself down

I stopped beating myself up about not being a “good enough mum” ages ago, and accepted instead that I couldn’t be great at everything.

So I buy ready-made cookies from the supermarket and I sit down at the park to watch my kids play. I take whatever shortcuts I can to make sure I’m healthy and in good emotional shape to weather the shitstorm parenting can be.

Read more about parenting guilt:

What’s with the #badmum thing?

So why are we so quick to stick a snarky hashtag on ourselves? I know #badmum is tongue-in-cheek, but I can’t help but wonder what’s underneath all that. Why do we run ourselves down so easily?

We put our hands up to acknowledge the mental load of parenting, and we all relate to the stories of tears and tantrums, and the other challenges that come with family life. Yet we beat ourselves up for raiding the kids’ lolly stash late at night, or for choosing to keep the kids home on a sunny Saturday because we want to kick around in our PJs all day.

I’m here to tell you that you can do those things if you like, and they don’t make you a #badmum. It’s okay to put yourself first sometimes, you know?

One day changed everything

I had an epiphany about all this fairly recently. One Tuesday afternoon, I parked outside school ready to pick up my two big kids and rush them to my five-year-old’s dance class over in the next suburb. Timing was everything. If I didn’t get them into the car within a couple of minutes after the bell, we’d end up caught in traffic and miss the first half of the lesson. I didn’t find all the rushing about fun, but I did it for my daughter.

On this particular day, there were no parking spots right outside school, so I had to park down the hill, which would add ten minutes onto the walk back to the car. There was no way we’d stay on schedule, and no way we’d get to the class on time. I felt myself starting to panic in the car, feeling the pressure of parenting squeeze the breath out of me. I nearly cried. I was so sick of running around like a hamster in a wheel trying to keep everyone happy, and here I was about to do it again.

I choose me!

But then a small voice crept into my thoughts – Don’t go to the class. She doesn’t even like it that much.”

That’s when I realised that there was simply no point to what I was doing. My daughter Poppy didn’t care about the stupid dance class, and more importantly, I DIDN’T WANT TO DO IT ANYMORE.

That day in the car I decided to choose myself. For the first time in a long time, I made a point of popping myself back on top of the priority list and coined my own personal, non-snarky hashtag that sealed the deal: #IchooseME

Since that day, I find myself using #IchooseME all over the place. When the routine is running late and I don’t have it in me to get all the kids bathed before bed, I don’t fret. The kids will survive a night a with a wipe-down instead of a full-scale wash and I’ll get some time to myself a bit earlier. #IchooseME

This is also why I don’t bother with baking or craft activities – because I don’t enjoy them, and I count in all of this. I make sure my kids are entertained and stimulated and that we spend time together, but it doesn’t matter what we’re doing or where it’s happening. I don’t have to suffer for it thank you very much. #IchooseME

Not a #badmum

But what does matter is that I’m coping okay, because, if I’m not, the whole thing will come crashing down, and then the trouble will really start. And I don’t know about you, but putting myself down with a #badmum isn’t going to help with how I feel about myself in all this.

I think mums deserve a lot better, and I don’t think any less of you if you choose to put your kids to bed early tonight because you want some peace and quiet, forget dress-up day at school or give them Vegemite sandwiches instead of sushi for lunch. There’s nothing wrong with any of that.

Personally, I think you’re an awesome mum. (And you’re welcome to use #IchooseME any time you like.)

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