Working Mom Guilt- How to deal with it and get over it!

woman looking at toddler

Written by Rita Samuels

I know that a lot of working moms feel guilty for being at work and it’s certainly something that I’ve been affected by myself in the past. Guilt is one of those emotions that is completely unproductive, it serves absolutely no purpose. So I want to pick up on five tips that you can use to get rid of working mom guilt forever.

Tip number one- Know your why

That’s a really important point and when I say know your why, I mean be absolutely clear in your mind as to the reason why you have decided to go to work. That can be for any number of reasons, for most people it’s because financially they actually couldn’t survive if they didn’t go to work. For other people, it may be the fact that they want to build on their career. Whatever the reason is, there’s no right or wrong answer for being a working mum. It’s all about you as an individual. It’s really important to be absolutely clear on the reason why you have decided to be a working mum. When you’re clear on that reason then go ahead and write that down. When you’re feeling guilty, you can pull out your piece of paper and you can just have a look at your reason why. So let’s just say for example that you’ve decided that you have to be a working mom because you wouldn’t be able to survive any other way, you know you’d be in a lot of financial hardship if you didn’t go to work. If that’s your why, and you write that down on your piece of paper in any moment of guilt you can reach for that. If you sit down and you look at that logically, you’d ask yourself why on earth would you feel guilty for providing for your family.

Tip number 2- Be realistic with yourself.

In life, whatever decision you make there’s always going to be pros and cons to that decision. So you need to be really realistic with yourself and understand that in being a working mom there are going to be certain sacrifices that you’re going to have to make, it’s just the way that life is. The quicker that you realise that and you accept that is the better it will be for you in terms of managing feelings of guilt. So let’s just say for example that you’re a working mum and you feel guilty about not being able to keep your house 100% tidy all the time now. You need to realise that your house is probably not going to be as tidy as somebody who is at home all day every day, who has the time to actually put in the hours during the day to make sure there’s not one speck of dust anywhere. So be realistic with yourself in what you can actually do as a working mum and realise that you are going to have to make sacrifices.

Tip number 3 – Be honest with your children

Be honest with your children about some of the sacrifices that you now have to make because you’ve decided to be a working mom. Be absolutely open, honest and transparent with them. What that does is it manages their expectations. When their expectations are managed it’s more likely that that you will feel less guilty. So let them know that you might not be able to attend every event at school due to work so that they already have this expectation.

Tip number 4- Be appreciative of all the things that you and your family are gaining from you being a working mom.

I can’t emphasise how important gratitude is. It’s something that’s really close to my heart. To be able to concentrate on all the good things that I’ve got in my life rather than the things that I wish that could be better, has been life-changing for me. I would definitely encourage you to do the same. We need to remember that we have a choice of whether we want to focus on the positive aspects of our lives or the negative aspects. So as a working mom, take the opportunity to focus on all of the great things that both you and your family have gained from you being at work. So focus on, the better financial position that you’re in, focus on the holidays that you can take your children on, focus on some of the friends that you’ve made within the workplace, focus on the fact that you have put your child into nursery and they’ve been able to make friends within their peer group and they’ve been able to build up their social skills. Focus on all of those little things however small they seem, in what benefit you and your family are getting from being a working mum. To be able to think like this takes practice so start by writing a gratitude list. Each day just list 2 or 3 things that you are grateful for about being a working mom so that it stays fresh in your head.

Tip Number 5- Come up with a logical solution for any issues that arise

Rather than going down the route of feeling guilt, come up with a logical solution for any issues that arise from you being a working mom. Let’s just say for example, that you’re feeling guilty because you’re not able to pick up your child from school at the end of the day and they have to go on to an afterschool club. Instead of feeling bad about it, it’s much more productive to do the following exercise. Grab a pen and paper and write down what the issue is, in this case it would be “I would like to be able to pick up my child from school and not have them go to after-school Club”. Next, write down what actions you could take to make this happen. The idea is to come up with as many ideas as possible. Challenge yourself to come up with between 5- 10 options. For example, you might ask your employee to consider a request for you to work flexibly so that you can leave earlier some days in order to pick your child up from school. When you do this you will be surprised at how many ideas come to mind.

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