Do 'mustabations' stress you out? Counsellor Sarah Barr shares a guide on taking a break from daily pressures.

How many times a day do you allow yourself to stop, take stock and breathe?

Or do you carry on, listening to all those ‘mustabations’ (I should be doing this, I must do that), telling yourself I can’t stop and have a cup of tea, those stairs need to be hoovered, those walls need to be washed, etc.

I am also guilty of the latter.

There it is that word. “GUILT”.

One little word that can cause soo much anxiety, stress and is often the source of us not taking care of ourselves.

Guilt likes to hide behind many different roles; ‘Mammy Guilt’, ‘Working Guilt’, ‘Messy House Guilt’ or ‘Guilt’ from a past issue.

Social Media does not help. It feeds ‘Guilt’, it can suck us into unrealistic expectations, of how things should be and what we should be doing. Be careful not to allow yourself to be sucked in to the filtered, best version, often unrealistic lifestyles sometimes portrayed on social media platforms.

Guilt motivates us to do things we feel we should/must or have to be doing. Yet it very rarely guilts us into taking care of our own needs.

Self-care should not be something we resort to when we are absolutely exhausted.

True self-care is about making the choice to living a life you do not feel you have to escape from.

It is sometimes about having that messy kitchen and deciding your goal for the day is to re-charge. If this means, resting in PJs, snuggling your children or spending time alone. Then so be it. Who says you can’t? Guilt?

Well, sometimes it is essential we stop and rest. If you carry on and keep going, you run the risk of not only exhausting yourself but increasing your anxiety.

Self-care is about taking care of your health and well-being.


If things become too overwhelmed, ask yourself “what can I drop, before I drop?”

Self-care means choosing behaviours that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors. These include:

  • Exercising,
  • Eating healthily,
  • Sleep,
  • Having a relaxing bath/pampering yourself,
  • Having a pyjama day,
  • Listening to your own needs,
  • Practicing yoga, meditation or relaxation techniques.

By taking care of yourself you may find that any problems you are trying to fix or ignore may start to sort themselves out.

Now I am going to ignore the ‘musts’, ‘shoulds’ and ‘have to’s’ and enjoy a HOT cup of coffee…I hope you can too.

I will leave you with this brilliant and honest poem ‘Mustabation’ from a Donegal Mammy, who recently attended one of the Minding Mammy Workshops.

MUSTABATION, what’s that?

You say well let me tell you about my day 1 little person to be fed and watered,

But MUST do the dishes, everywhere they are scattered.

2 little arms, reaching out for a hug,

But hold on a minute, I MUST straighten this god damn rug.

10 little toes need shoes & warm socks,

But, first I MUST iron this very last load of frocks.

Mammy, sit down, spend some time with me,

Just not right now pet this mess all around is all I can see.

Mammy, how about reading just one more story,

Not just yet dear, this place is not quite to my glory.

So this is my definition of what is MUSTABATION,

Suffered by 1000’s of women from all over the nation.

So Mammys MUST sit, relax, have some tea,

The mess will be fine til later,

You’ll see very soon, these chores, will be all done

But then, it’s too late, for the children have gone.

Pick up the phone to give them a call,

The wee voice says Mammy’s too busy she can’t talk at all.

As I sit and remember the musts, shoulds and coulds,

To only go back and change them to woulds.

So forget all the dishes, ironing, rugs and the likes Make time for your children,

keep them high high up in your sights.


If you are feeling overwhelmed, lonely or would like a chat I can be contacted through my Facebook page or by calling 0864477867.

Or you are very welcome to come along to our next Mammy Meet up on the 4th of December from 7-pm at Sonder, Rossview Business Park, Letterkenny

Our guest speakers will include, Lorraine Boyce and PND Specialist Jennifer Houton.

This meet up is free, with an optional donation towards Pieta House.

It’s a great opportunity to have a chat to other mums, make new friends and find your Mama Squad.

Take Care ~ Sarah.