One Mummy Guilt I've Been Feeling Lately
Are you even a mum if you don’t have some kind of "mummy guilt"? Obviously before I became a mum, I used to look at that word strangely. I probably still do, and I can’t even pretend I know the full implications.
So although I typed the title of this post first, I decided to check the meaning before I proceed. The urban dictionary defines it as “Guilt a mother feels anytime she takes time to do something for herself, outside of work, that does not involve her children". And I agree that’s the most common one I had seen. Like mums taking a solo holiday or taking time off for girls trip. But that’s not my guilt – not in the least. I’ve pretty much spent the last 7 months with the little kiddo and not a night away!
So I dug deeper – and it seems mums guilt is really anything in relation to parenting that you feel isn’t good enough or not your best. So there’s a lot – what you feed them, leaving them with nannies, watching too much TV, parenting style, yelling - whatever.
And I don’t generally have any form of guilt. I know I’m doing my best, I’m a great mum (you gotta blow your trumpet hunnay) and the kid is generally happy! So why has this little thing been on my mind a bit.
Ok – here it comes.
Why do I feel like I’m not reading to him enough!?
It’s hilarious somewhat and I know my mum would have a good laugh. When I sent her a photo of his book shelf which was set up when he was just a few weeks old she remarked at how such a tiny baby already had that number of books!
But I’m actually a huge fan of books and I love people who read, I think it’s a habit that one gets into early and stays with you. If you don’t pick it up early, you probably wouldn't get into it. Tee for instance is so not a reader and never has been. He’d read newspapers, magazines, and blogs (at least this one). But anything more than a few pages long and it’s a no. Many times, he says he wishes he could read.
Reading is a great way of gaining a vast amount of knowledge exposing yourself to other places, cultures and situations.
That quote is quite apt and we ordered a vinyl sticker of the words to be placed above the bookshelf. So we’re quit keen for our kids to love reading. But how early is too early too start? During pregnancy, a lot of apps and website advocate reading to the baby in the belly. They also suggested playing classical music, but I didn’t even attempt that.
The belief is that reading to them in the belly helps to recognise your voice and form a bond. We did it a few times, but to be honest, amidst everything else, it’s was tad hard to keep up. But now that baby is out, there’s even more argument for reading to them as early as a few weeks old. It apparently builds their knowledge of words, concepts, emotions, fosters social development, and finally develop an interest in reading.
These are all good arguments and the reason I rushed off to buy a book case hoping to have a daily reading routine. But yelp – I didn’t even buy a single book for the bookcase. Thankfully, we received a number of books as gifts and Tee bought a couple too (I know ironic right!)
So while I’ve tried to make it a daily routine, there are a couple of hindrances. First, I already know all of the stories as I’ve read all of the books a couple of times. I’ve never been one to re-read books so this is probably going to be difficult. But I guess I need to train myself to do this as I hear at some point kids begin to request for the same stories all of the time!
In fairness, our son does show some interest in the books – provided we count chewing the books as a clear form of interest.
Tip: buy cardboard, cloth, or sturdy books that can’t easily be torn.
Anyway, I did a bit of research on this and just in case you’re like me, here's what I've found:
- You don’t have to read the entire book all the time – pick your fave pages or any pages at all. You also don’t have to go by the exact text or words in the book – create your own stories with the photos.
- Repetition helps - so the same way your child probably gets excited and can recognise nursery rhymes and songs from listening to them often, is the same way they’d come to love the sounds of the books / words by hearing them often.
- Include activities that show that reading can be fun – singing, clapping, bouncing - whatever. I guess books with sound also help.
- A routine is recommended – so perhaps after bath time or before bed, a 10 minute reading session is better than none. I try to pick a book to read to him while waiting for his food to cool, and many times before bed.
- Even when you're not reading it, let the babies and infants have books around to touch and feel.
- Finally borrow from library. You don’t have to buy all the books, and if you must buy, consider buying second-hand!
If you’re dealing with any other kind of mum guilt, don’t over think it. Sometimes mums go too hard on themselves. Give yourself a break, perfection is almost impossible. Have mum friends that you can share with – and you realise everyone’s having pretty much similar situations. And just keep doing your best! We’ve got this.
Do you love to read and do you like to read to kids? When did you start, what are your fave books + tips?
If you're a mum - got any guilt lately? (no judgements here!)
pS: There might be some genetics involved as well. Some people are exposed to reading so many books as kids but still won't voluntarily touch a book with a ten foot pole.