Guilty as a working mom?
Are you struggling with being a working mom?
Are you concerned that you are not doing justice as a mom due to your job?
Don’t worry, you are not alone!
Not long ago, there was a photograph on Facebook, where a lady was at work with a 10-month old child, who was drinking milk. The photo grabbed a lot of attention and the plight of a working woman was highlighted. Some said ‘Kudos’, some sympathized, but the point is that mom probably had no option.
Almost every working mom goes through this guilt.
My mom worked… Our grandma stayed with us for taking care of us. As school going kids, my sister and I both wished that our mom would come to pick us from school and spend time with us in the evenings with our homework etc.
Occasionally she would come to pick us up from school and those days were amazing. We felt on top of the world!
We grew up to have the best of education and are pretty much well settled in life.
When I became a mother and was about to resume work, the guiltometer started ticking.
I had a one on one conversation about this with my mom and asked her whether she ever felt the same when she was working.
She had the most rational and practical answer to my question.
The question and the answer that calmed my mind…..
Before the answer, my mom asked me a simple question.
Why do you go to work?
I thought long and hard. Well, I had my reasons to work- financial independence, contribution to the household, better future for my child, putting my education to good use.
After listening to my answer, she said, initially when she started working she also had this whole guilt of leaving her kids back home, but she had the assurance that our grandmother is going to take good care of us. Even the days when grandma was out, she had found this great day care where we were completely at home.
She said that she did not have a choice those days since financial reason was one of the top most for her to work and she completely enjoyed what she did. She missed coming to school to pick us up for which she used to occasionally take a day off to spend with us.
Participating in our homework was something that she said that she had no idea about and probably the reason why she didn’t spoon feed us or coax us to study, it made us independent and responsible for our own things and this has helped us in the long run.
But once she was home, she ensured that she did not carry her work back home. That time was for the family- cooking for us, having dinner together, watching TV.
What has changed between now and then?
Feeling guilty as a working mom is not a new trend.
The situation is the same – most working moms are in the same situation.
But don’t you think the guilt level has also increased.
Why do you think it is so?
What has changed between now and then and how can you overcome those issues?
I think, that this change can be attributed to the change in the nature of our work, the working hours, the stress levels at work etc. Everything is so different now!
I will try to explain what those changes are in detail and also look at solutions to make life easier.
#1. Nature of Work
Well, these days the work is carried back home. With technology, came the concept of remote work or mobile work. It’s so easy to carry work back home and this work plays the spoilt sport when we have to spend some quality time with our kids.
Imagine a situation when you are in conversation with a person about something really important and that person is just not listening to you.
How would you feel?
You feel bad right? That is exactly how our little ones feel when you don’t pay heed to what they have to share with you. It could be the most trivial thing at school, but if you have your laptop open or if you working from home, you are definitely bound to hurt them and in turn feel guilty.
Working for a multinational company, I realized that a 9 to 5 job, like what my mother used to do, is something that’s not going to work now. Some work definitely comes home. So, how do I ensure this doesn’t interrupt with my time with my little one?
Set up 30 minutes to an hour every day where you are gadget free and by gadget free I mean not just the laptops but our very good friend – our dearest mobile phones which has tend to replace everything in our lives.
Talk to your child, listen to them, plan some activity (definitely not a movie or a cartoon) or just read a book to them. This way you know they are happy.
As a working mom, I constantly think of how things I could do better for my little one- from cooking her favourite dishes, dropping her to school, spending time on her school activities, taking her out to a garden or just spending some extra time with her…
The guilt of not attending a school event because I had an important meeting at work or the guilt of not dropping her off to her school because I had to reach office early, has always been there.
Of course, we have no time as our life is so fast paced. But we have to make some time. Sometimes you feel that being a working mom is exhausting or being a working mom is too hard. But only because you try to do it all.
Remember no one is a super mommy. You cannot just do everything. So stop feeling guilty about not making food or about not tidying up the house or about not participating in the school project work.
If you end up spending time on all these chores and miss out on your ‘WE time’ with your kids, it’s just going to add to the guilt.
Take help. So if it means hiring a maid for the household or having a cook on weekdays or even for that matter requesting your spouse to participate in the school activities or helping you with small chores, do it.
Delegation of work works best at home and at work as well. Prioritize and keep your ‘WE time’ with kids on top of the list.
The fact that you see other Stay at home Moms doing their best for their kids and you not able to do that is the primary source. Like the dictionary definition says -Guilt comes from a sense of obligation that you know you should have done but you did not or could not do because of some reason.
So you know that are supposed to do a lot of activities, but you cannot as a working mom.
How many times have you looked at what other mommies are doing and compared yourself? When you find someone doing a better job at parenting, you feel guilty. You start feeling that you should have done this and done that.
Also vice versa, there are times when you feel that you are a better parent then someone else. Every parent has a different parenting style.
Instead of perfecting your parenting, enjoy your parenthood.
Make it pleasant for you and your child. The outcome of fine parenting is a happy family.
#4. Unsolicited advice and questions
There is this whole gang of people from the neighbourhood or parents from your kids’ school who come and give you a lot of parenting tips as to how it is important to spend time with your child and remind you about how interesting that event in school was that you missed due to your prior work commitments.
“How do you manage?”
“Why don’t you take a break from work till your little one goes to school?”
People whom you meet at social gatherings might have definitely popped up this question a million times. In fact, it feels like people should be given a lecture on what not to say to working moms!
How do you avoid these questions from making you feel guilty?
Well, the mantra to successful parenting is that you should be happy and content and if that’s the case, the family is happy. If you know that this certain set of people constantly have feedback on your parenting, try and avoid them.
#5. Day Care
The fact that you leave your child in a day care or with your parents / in laws adds to the guilt. Whether it’s your family that you leave your child or a trusted day care, ensure that the child is safe and enjoys his time there. If the child is content with the way he is looked after, he is definitely going to be happy and cheerful and you definitely have no reasons to worry.
However, if you find that there is something wrong and your child is unhappy about something, then act immediately. Your child’s needs when you are not around should be taken care in a timely and right manner for you to have a great work life.
Constantly thinking about what you little one would be doing, whether she has eaten, or if she has slept is going to multiply the guilt!
Especially if you are leaving your child with a daycare, ensure that you find a good quality day care. Do get reviews from parents who leave their children there, check the hygiene level, check the caretaker to kids ratio, activities, food quality etc.
Give proper instructions so that they know of your little one’s choices and preferences.
4 Tips to make your life smooth if you are feeling guilty as a working mom
Earlier, we discussed the factors that cause us to feel guilty and how to eliminate those. Now let us look at some tips to strike a balance between work and motherhood as stop being guilty as a working mom.
- Plan and organize
Most working moms fail to achieve a balance between work and home because they do not plan and organize things both at work and office.
Plan your next day the night before. Make a list of things that you need to do both at work and home, prioritize things that you know you can delegate do it right away. Check notes from school, if there is something planned for the next day.
This will avoid the mundane tasks to go off your list and you will end up saving time.
- Take time off
Weekends should be strictly family time. Take time off to go off on a vacation or a drive with your kids. Plan some fun activities along the way.
Birthdays, anniversaries are all the ‘special WE Time’. These small gestures with reduce your guilt to bits.
- You CANNOT have it all
On a practical note, you cannot be at all places all the time. So its ok to miss a school event once in a while. Someone else from the family can take your place so be it grandparents or your spouse.
Let your child know in advance that she is going to have a surprise visitor for the event. Stop feeling guilty over things that are not in your control and appreciate the fact that you have an accommodating family to fill in for you.
Recently a colleague at work was telling me that she was feeling so guilty. This was because she couldn’t contribute to her child’s school art project because she is so bad at art! Well, you can’t be an expert in all fields. If you aren’t good at art, that’s ok, you are probably a master in something else.
Like I said earlier, take help. It doesn’t do any harm.
In fact, taking a dig at something you don’t know is just going to make it worse. You could also end up frustrated and must have wasted a lot of time.
- Take pride
Take pride in the fact that as a working mother, you are setting the right example. You are doing your best for your child’s future.
As a working woman, you are happy and content and that shows. You are not only independent and confident but you are also a role model to your son or daughter. They learn these traits from you. How to balance work and life and how to be independent.
After all, raising confident and happy children is one of the primary goals of parenting and you are just doing good.
I am sure, stay at home moms have their concerns too! Rather than feeling guilty or degrading someone because they are working or not working is not justified for you wouldn’t know their reasons.
Depression hits working moms hard, because they feel that they aren’t doing enough.
- Also Read: Life as a working mom: My Experience
But I would like to wind up by saying that -Let off the guilt since the time you spend thinking over what you could do better could be used collectively to make the present things better for a brighter future!
Moms, do you feel guilty as a working mom? How do you cope? Share your stories with us!