Do you wish you could be a better mom? If so, you are not alone. Working mom's guilt is something every working mom experiences.
About four in ten working moms said they don't spend enough time with their children. Where 18% of part-time working moms and 11% stay-at-home moms said the same according to a Pew Research Center survey.
If the thought of heading to work makes you miserable mommy guilt can easily be felt because you're leaving your child for a job you hate. And no matter how well you are doing in your job, mommy guilt can creep up at any time. Career success is not the key to happiness.
So if career satisfaction can't resolve mommy guilt what can? And if you have to go to work every day, how can you stop the mommy guilt?
The funny thing about guilt is that it's an emotion we have control over. We will feel it, sometimes there's no way around it, but then we can choose to stop feeling it. Here are eight ways to do just that.
Decide if your mommy guilt is trying to tell you something
Your guilt could be a warning sign. Something in your life may need to change. It's your job to decide if your mommy guilt is trying to point this out to you.
Are you unhappy about something? Is your child care provider not meeting your expectations?
Does your boss make it hard to balance your work and personal life? Do you need to ask your husband or partner for more help around the house?
If you do think that your guilt is trying to tell you something, make it a goal to fix the problem. Even if you can't fix it right away, committing to resolving it will diminish your guilt.
Having a plan helps you change your perspective. Where's there's a will there a way. Bye-bye, mommy guilt!
Create an anti-mommy guilt credo
We all work for different reasons because we are all unique. So it's super important in the fight against mommy guilt to really know your "why". Create an anti-mommy guilt credo by answering these questions:
- Why do you work?
- What motivates you to get out of bed and head to the office every day?
- What have you worked on to get you where you are today in your career?
- What are your professional values?
When you read your anti-mommy guilt credo it will reassure you that you're making the right choice. Feel the mommy guilt melt away when you believe you're making the right choices for you, your family and your career. Your unique anti-mommy guilt credo will empower you the next time you feel guilt.
On the other hand, if after answering these questions you feel like you're not making the right choice go back to the first tip in this article.
Get away from people who make you feel guilty
You can choose to stay away from people who make you feel bad.
This is how you will thrive as a working mom. It is called setting boundaries. If someone has made you feel guilty keep conversations with them short or just stay away from them all together. Limit the amount of time you are near them.
Relatives can be trickier. If your mother-in-law makes a snide comment about you working, find an excuse to leave the room. This better than stabbing a fork through her hand.
Consider the other person's perspective
When you come face-to-face with an anti-working mom comment, try to remember they speak from their own perspective which is based on their experiences. Ask yourself "Where is their comment coming from? What has happened in their life that would cause them to believe they are right?"
You have to see the comment in light of the choices they have made for their family. Did the woman who made this comment put her career on hold to be home with kids? Did she miss working or hate being dependant on her husband for money? Then perhaps she has to believe her perspective is right so she can live with the tradeoffs she accepted.
Take the day off
For gnawing mommy guilt, give yourself a break and take a day off to spend with your child. You'll reconnect with your kid's daily rhythms, appetite, and personality. Your child will relish the special time with Mommy.
If your child is little, you can indulge activities that don't fit elsewhere in the week like giving them longer baths and examining their little body for any rashes or checking out where their fine motor skills are at. If your child is bigger, let him choose the agenda, whether it's the mall, a bike ride, or lunch and a movie with Mom.
During nap time take some time to reflect on your life as a working mom (did you create your anti-mommy guilt credo yet?). Take out your journal and start writing, mama!
If you can't take a vacation day, pick your child up early for a few hours of play. Or, declare one weekend day errand-free and spend it just being a mom. If your schedule is really tight, the next time you have to stay home with a sick kid, try to treat it as bonding time, instead of a television and Jell-o marathon.
Remind yourself that we all have our challenges
When you're feeling a work-family conflict, it's easy to idealize the life you would have as a stay-at-home mom. You imagine dancing through fields of dandelions with your children, scrapbooking every precious milestone and building their IQ to a genius level through activities recommended by early childhood development PhDs.
The reality is that stay-at-home parents can have as much stress as working parents, if not more, depending on the age, temperament and number of kids.So go ahead and relish your solo commute to work or that quiet cup of coffee at your desk. If you were at home full-time, you might be lucky to shower in private.
Acknowledge that you may miss out on things in your kid's life
That said, it's a simple fact of physics that a working mom isn't going to witness every single minute of her children's day. It's okay to be sad about missing out on the sweet moments and the fun. If you let yourself mourn the things you're giving up by working, it may be easier for you to enjoy the things you're gaining. It's no use pretending there aren't tradeoffs.
To help you overcome this type of mommy guilt ask your daycare provider if they'd use an app to keep you connected during the day. It'll help you through those guilty moments seeing a picture or video of your kid enjoying themselves at school.
Bear in mind that this isn't how it's going to be forever
Life changes quickly. The choices you've made about work may seem like forever now, but who knows what the future holds!
People who are judgmental of others' life choices run the risk of having to eat their words. The at-home mom who sneers at you during the school open house may end up going back to work after her husband is laid off.
So keep your own mind open to the possibility that your personal and family dynamics may shift. Revisit your work-life balance periodically to make sure it still meets your needs.
Edited by Elizabeth McGrory.