How to Combat Working Mom Guilt
It’s 10:00 on a Monday morning. Do you know where your children are?
YUP. And they aren’t with you.
Because you’re at work. Missing out on the important moments of your children’s lives. Because you’re a terrible mother.
Does this sound familiar to you? I can tell you right now that I have had that EXACT thought process run through my head. It’s just another case of working mom guilt. And it is relentless.
Working Mom Guilt Syndrome
My parenting scenario is a little unique. I’m a stepmom, and I only get to see my stepkids when they come stay with us during the summer, and then again at Christmas. (We live on opposite sides of the country from each other. It’s seriously the worst.)
When I have my stepkids, all I want to do is be PRESENT with them and do fun things together to make up for all the time that we lost during the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, I’m a grown-up woman with a grown-up job and they expect grown-up things from me, like turning up for work every day and doing my job. (Weird…) And I’ve gotta say, this really cuts into all of that quality time I want to be spending with my stepkids.
It certainly doesn’t help that my stepkids look at me with their big, puppy-dog eyes every day and ask if I can take the day off from work and stay with them. And it also doesn’t help that whoever is helping to watch my stepkids that day gets to do fun things with them, while i’m stuck in an office. The mommy envy is STRONG, my friend. And the mommy guilt is stronger.
I know that I have to work to provide for my family. But I am missing out on precious memories being made! I come home at the end of the day and hear about all of the fun things they did that I wasn’t there for, and I think, “Well, those are memories I’ll never get to be a part of. Was it worth it?”
Breaking the Working Mom Guilt Cycle
Yes, it CAN be worth it! There are powerful lessons you teach your children when you get up every day, put on your big-girl pants, and go to work. Even when you would rather be with them.
ESPECIALLY when you would rather be with them.
No, the mom guilt isn’t going to go away overnight. I’m not going to lie, I still get it from time to time. But keeping these 5 tips in mind when guilt rears its ugly head, just might help refocus you and remind you why you’re working in the first place.
8 Ways to Combat Working Mom Guilt
Remember that kids who see their moms working will learn a strong work ethic
When your child sees you walk out that door, dressed professionally and ready to take on the world, they are learning that work is important and should be taken seriously. When they watch you make sacrifices and juggle events between work life and personal life, they are learning that work can be hard, but we do it anyway, because it is a necessary part of life. When they hear you talking about your day and what you accomplished, they are learning that you work hard, and maybe they can, too.
Relish in the accomplishment that you are providing for your family
Gone are the days where the woman relies on her husband’s income and hopes that she can get married before she ends up a poor spinster, relying on the state for support. We are WORKING women now. We can support OURSELVES, thank you very much. And WE can be the breadwinners in our families, too. When you bring home that paycheck, all of your hard work and missed hours with your children literally pays off. Because of you, they have a roof over their heads, food to eat, and clothes to wear. You may not be with them every second of every day, but you sure are providing for them the best that you can. That’s something to be proud of.
Keep in mind that you are contributing to the outside world
Too many stay-at-home moms get trapped in the world of baby talk, sticky fingers, and changing diapers. They long to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to interact with adults on a regular basis and make a difference in the world. YOU have the chance to do that every day at work. Don’t take that for granted! I know the grass seems greener on the other side, and that stay-at-home moms seem to have the dream job. But some of those moms are looking back at you and thinking the same thing. Be grateful for what you have.
Make the moments you have with your kids count
Work days are long, and bedtimes come early. When it comes down to it, you only have a few precious hours each day to spend with your child. So take advantage of those moments and make them memorable!
- Create family traditions
- Every Friday in my family we eat pizza and watch a movie together. It’s a fun activity that we all look forward to (and it makes meal planning easier already having one day of the week taken care of!). Try creating traditions in your own family, like Taco Tuesday or Saturday hikes. Traditions give your kids something to look forward to that they know you’ll do together, and they give an opportunity to create great memories.
- Be present
- Put down the phone, turn off the TV, leave work at the door. Get rid of your distractions and FOCUS ON YOUR CHILD. At the end of the day, your child just wants to spend time with you. They love you. Knowing that they don’t have to compete for your attention will make the time you spend together more enjoyable for everyone.
- Create family traditions
Let your support system support you
If you ever start feeling overwhelmed between your balance of work and home life (trust me, it’s going to happen), that’s when it’s time to call in your support group. These are the people who love you and are there to help you no matter what. Whether it’s family members, friends, church members, or neighbors, people have been placed in your life for a reason. And those people LOVE you and your kids and they would love to help you out when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I know, it’s hard to do. You’ve got to humble yourself a little bit. But your sanity will thank you.
Love your job
This may go without saying, but if you don’t love where you’re going to work everyday, then overcoming that mom guilt may be a little bit harder. Resentment, dread, and anxiety caused by a job you don’t love will only feed the guilt beast. If you can find a job that you love, that truly fulfills you, you will be far better off. Not only will you be happy to wake up and go to work in the morning, but you will have a sense of purpose and desire to work that will remind you why working may not be such a bad thing after all.
Know that you are important, too
Your children are the most important things in the world to you. I get that. I feel the same way. (Next to my husband, of course.) But do you know who else is important? YOU. Becoming a mom forces you to think outside of yourself so much of the time, that it’s too easy to forget that we once were real people with real needs and wants. So just remember this: Your children are important. But SO ARE YOU. Your children deserve the best that you can give them. But SO DO YOU. Don’t forget that your own dreams matter. And if your dream is to be the president of your company? Then you should go for it. You deserve success, too.
Keep fighting stereotypes
One of the reasons working mom guilt is so strong is because women have been told for generations that their place is in the home, with the children, not out in the workforce, with the men. Society is shifting and that stereotype is breaking, but it’s not dead yet. (And I am in no way saying that stay-at-home moms are inferior to working moms or that all women should be in the workforce. SAHM life is work, too.) When we have a baby, there is always the question, “Will you stay at home with him or will you go back to work?” And whether or not it’s self-imposed, that’s when working mom guilt starts creeping on in. It’s OK to want to go back to work. It’s OK to not want to go back to work, but to go back anyway because you have to. It’s OK to stay at home with your child. The point is, whatever decision you make is OK because it’s your life, dangit, and society doesn’t dictate how you should act or feel. You do.
So while you’re sitting at work, thinking about your children at home or daycare and the fun they’re having and the memories they’re making, and you feel the working mom guilt start to creep in—STOP! Implement these 8 tips. Go into the bathroom and tell yourself in the mirror that you’re a working mom and business goddess, and no one can take that away from you. Then calmly go back to your desk and reward yourself with a piece of chocolate. You deserve it, working mom.
Hey there, I’m Annie! I’m a stepmom to two beautiful kids, wife to one amazing husband, and an avid consumer of diet coke. At Annie Rachelle I discuss the ins and outs of running a modern family, from parenting tips and budgeting advice, to cute crafts and fun family activities. Get access to my Resource Library for budgeting worksheets, craft templates, and more!