If you wish you could be a better mom, you’re not alone. Working mom’s guilt is and has been a real concern to most all working mothers like me. Only 10 percent of mothers working full-time give themselves the highest rating for their parenting and just 24 percent of mothers working part-time give themselves a 10 as a parent.
So how do you deal with the feelings of guilt, whether you love or hate your job?
Is Working Mom’s Guilt Telling You Something?
Sometimes guilt can be a warning signal that you need to make a change in your life. Are you unhappy with your childcare arrangements? Is your boss making it hard for you to find balance? Do you need to ask your husband or partner for more help around the house?
If you see a red flag, fix it. Even if you can’t correct it right away, resolving to do so can get rid of the guilt. Once you make a plan to have a better work-life balance it’s easier to brush off the anxiety and the guilt. Here are some tips you might find helpful.
Write Down the Reasons You Work
We all work for different reasons. We love our jobs. We need the money. We don’t want to risk dropping out of a competitive field when new positions are scarce. We realize we’d be miserable as stay-at-home moms and would make our children unhappy. We want to set an example of a successful, independent wage-earner. The list goes on and is varied.
Write down your own motivations. Once you’ve reassured yourself that you’re doing what you need to do, then simply let go of the guilt. I know that is easier said than done, but trust yourself and the choices you’ve made for your family. But keep the list. When guilt arises again – and it will – pull it out to refresh your memory.
Stay Away From People Who Make You Feel Guilty
It sounds obvious, but may be harder than it sounds. You know you shouldn’t pause to chat with the neighbor who once said, “I could never let someone else raise my child” – so stop talking to your neighbor! It’s toxic. Relatives can be even trickier. But if your mother-in-law makes a snide comment about you working, find an excuse to leave the room.
Consider the Source
When you do face an anti-working mom comment try to remember that we all speak from our own perspective, based on our own experiences.
You have to see the comment in light of the choices that person made for her own family. Did she put her career on hold to be home with kids? Did she miss working or hate being dependant on her husband for money? Then maybe she has to believe hers is the only right choice in order to live with the trade-offs she accepted.
For guilt that just won’t go away, take a day off just to spend with your child/children. Put nothing else on that day’s agenda. You’ll reconnect with your kid’s daily routine, appetite, and personality. They will relish the special time just as much as you will.
You can also take the opportunity to assess whether you’d be happier working less or not at all. More likely, you’ll reaffirm the life choices you’ve made.
If you can’t take a vacation day, try to 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 and kid.
Remember That All Moms Have Challenges
When you’re feeling work-family conflict, it’s easy to idealize the life you would have as a stay-at-home mom. 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, 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 the Loss
That said it’s a simple fact 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.
What are your thoughts?