Working mom guilt is inevitable at some time or other, but how you manage the guilt will determine if it smothers you or not. Here are ways to do it.
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The complex: I love my job (most of the time). I have a lot of flexibility, and the people are great…but I can’t help but feel guilty for the choice I made to be a working mother. I feel like I’m letting my kids down. When I’m at work, I ache about time spent away from my kids. When I’m with my kids, I worry about everything that needs to be done at work.
The solution: Note to self: Your kids will turn out just fine. No matter how much you angst about missing baseball games, school plays and trips to the pumpkin patch, your children still love you more than you know. Working-mom guilt is inevitable at some time or other, but how you manage the guilt will determine if it smothers you or not.
At one point in my career, I was feeling particularly guilty about working long hours. Until I was brave enough to ask my then 5‐year‐old daughter what made me a good mother (yes, I was leading the witness!). Her answer: because I bought her pink clothes. It was as simple as that. No I wasn’t perfect, no I wasn’t always patient, but I bought her pink clothes, which in her mind meant a job well done.
As mothers, we place an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves to be perfect at work and at home. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when the guilt starts taking over.
Set realistic expectations. If your expectations are too high, you’ll fall short every time. It’s physically impossible for a working mom to witness every single minute of her child’s day. It’s okay to be sad about missing out on the special moments. I am honest about what I am capable of as a working mother. While I enjoy watching my son score in soccer or my daughter finish her first lap in swimming, I understand that they don’t need me cheering them on at every game or welcoming them home with fresh snacks to make them feel loved or supported.
Remember why you chose to be a working mom. Write down the reasons why you wanted to work. It could be because you are following a career path you are passionate about or because you need to pay the bills. One mother recently told me that she didn’t necessarily have to work to put food on the table, but her job made her feel like a more well‐rounded person while keeping her well‐connected to the outside world. A little adult interaction every once in a while doesn’t hurt. Moms feel pressure to make the reason they work be for their kids, but in reality, isn’t doing something for yourself a good enough answer?
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