What kinds of thoughts go through your mind when your child gives you an unenthusiastic greeting at the end of the day?
What about when you find out your child has accomplished something you didn’t even know he or she had been working on?
How about when you start to see your child developing bad habits and showing increasingly negative emotions and attitudes toward you?
Do you feel like working away from home and spending less time with your child might have contributed to his or her negative behaviours?
The working mom’s guilt is real, and moms who are working away from their families are prone to carry this emotional burden.
But know that you are not alone, and there are many moms out there going through the exact same thing. The good news though, is that there are many moms who have discovered ways to handle this unnecessary emotional baggage, to become moms who are happy and self-content while still holding a job.
Let’s explore the ways you can release yourself from the working mom’s guilt trip.
How to overcome working mom’s guilt
“It takes a whole village to raise a child“
1. Don’t compare yourself with other moms
Just as you never should compare your child to other children, you should never compare yourself to other moms. The comparison game will only send you tumbling down a rabbit hole of emotional turmoil. Just as they say, ‘Never judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes’, no one will understand your circumstances until they are in a comparable situation. Doing your best and being who you are is more than enough. Never beat yourself up by looking over at the other moms, swimming as gracefully as swans through their own lives. Trust that they too face their own struggles, no matter how at ease they might appear to be.
2. Quality over quantity
Studies show children benefit more from quality time with parents, than quantity of time. What this means is, even though your working hours mean less time for your kids, you can still fill those precious moments with rich and fulfilling activities.
Instead of feeling guilty for all those hours you could be staying with your little ones rather than working, spend that little time you do have with them doing something memorable, and building strong bonds.
Once you realize how much you can make of your time with your kids to fill whatever void your children might feel, the guilt that haunts down all the time will start to dissipate.
3. A happy mom means happy kids
Whether your work is necessary for your family’s financial stability or simply for your career development, working is a way of easing your mind of the potential stress from feelings of stagnation or powerlessness. As long as your work fulfills your need for personal growth and self-fulfillment, it is positively affecting you—which definitely benefits your child, who gets to have a content and happy mom.
4. Financial stability
No one can deny your responsibility as a parent to provide basic necessities for your child. Financial stability is an important necessity of life that without a doubt brings you peace of mind. By working outside of home, not only can you lower your stress and anxiety around your finances, you can contribute greater stability to your whole family, which is something your kids need.
5. Kids want a loving mom, not a supermom
All moms want to give everything they can to their kids. But children do not need a supermom. As long as you meet your children’s basic needs, a “good enough mom” can be better than a “perfect mother”.
‘Good enough mothering’ is a term coined by D. W. Winnicott, who was a pediatrician and a child psychotherapist. According to his theory, a mother can wean her children off of her fully attentive care slowly, based on her child’s cognitive development and his or her sense of the external world. Gradually exposing a child to little frustrations can help the child to separate themselves from mom and develop their independence. But on the flip side, weaning late or attending to one hundred percent of your child’s demands will actually interrupt his or her healthy development of the ability to self-soothe and adapt to the real world.
So give yourself some slack. You are doing your best, and sometimes alright is more than good enough. Being who you are and doing the best you can for your children is meaningful in itself, and you will always be your children’s superheroine, by being there for them and never giving up on them.
6. Each family has its own unique circumstances
No one can judge another family’s circumstances. Your family has its own situation that no one else can discredit, without experiencing your challenges firsthand. You know what is best for your children and your family, including yourself. After all, the decision of whether you having a job will be an advantage to you and your family is yours alone to make. If you make decisions based on the greater benefit, there is no reason for you to keep second guessing and agonizing over your choices.
7. You are a strong role model to your child
Parents are the closest and strongest role models for their children. Your children watch you closely and get to see how you manage your life and develop as a human being, besides being their parents. Although it might be tough to juggle family life and a job at the same time, you’re showing your children your fight to maximize your potential and bring financial stability to your family.
8. Don’t carry all the burden on your own shoulders
Like they say, it takes a whole village to raise a child—raising one child is that difficult! As a working mom, you are already doing as much—if not more than—your partner is.
At the end of the day, picking up the kids, house chores, and meal prep might be waiting for you—but it shouldn’t all be up to you to tackle that mountain. Dividing the housework with your partner is not asking for help, but simply asking for the help you deserve. If your partner denies his (or her) portion of responsibility and refuses to do their part, then don’t get into a stalemate.
Instead, outsource—even if you have to pay for the service. Your partner always has a choice, whether to pitch in or let you get much-needed help elsewhere.
Ask around for help, or offer to trade some services with family, friends, and neighbours, if no one volunteers to give you a helping hand.
Remember, your children are not only your responsibility, So don’t load all that weight on your own shoulders out of guilt. You’ll quickly burn out, both mentally and physically.
9. Stay-at-home moms carry their own share of regrets
Let go of the what-if thoughts in your head—those nagging doubts that make you wonder, what if you had stayed home; what would your children be like? Would they do better at school? Would they be less frequently sick? Maybe behave better? These thoughts are based on nothing more than self-doubt.
It’s important to remember that stay-at-home moms carry their own guilt and regrets, and their children don’t magically turn out perfect and happy.
So don’t let your self-doubt drag you down into a bottomless pit of working mom’s self-shaming. When negative thoughts sneak up on you, remember that no matter what choice you make, there will always be pros and cons.
Think instead about your strengths as a working mom, and how your situation is benefiting your family. The grass only looks greener on the other side!
If you have working mom’s guilt, comparing yourself to other moms and especially stay-at-home moms and feeling sorry for your children because you’re not there for them for long hours, look at the flip side. You are bringing financial stability to your family and maintaining your financial independence, as well as being a strong role model for your children.
Never compare your family situation to others, and don’t feel bad about not being a supermom. Because you are a super mom in your own way—you brought precious life into this world, and now you’re raising your children and still managing to hold a job!
And remember, even if you were a stay-at home-mom, a whole other set of doubts and guilt would be waiting for you. You made the best decision for you and your family, and that is good enough.
There is no shame in asking for help, whether from family or for hire, so don’t wrack yourself with guilt for failing to carry all of the responsibility. You are already a super mom, and doing your best each day is all that matters.
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