As a mom who’s also balancing a career, I know all too well the feeling of “working-mom guilt.” Before I had my son, furthering my career was my top priority, but after welcoming the greatest love I’ve ever known into my life, my career bumped off of the top of my “most important” list.
After trying my hand at being a stay-at-home mom for nine months, I returned to work full-time. Thankfully, I had my mother to watch my then infant during the day. The first few months back at work were the hardest, not only because I had to get used to being in an office environment again, but I was also still breastfeeding/pumping, as well as taking care of a household when I got home. The guilt that I felt was the worst during this period. Not only did I feel guilty for leaving my baby every morning, but I would feel guilty for enjoying work. My job allowed me to be with other career-driven adults and at the end of the day I would have a feeling of accomplishment.
What is Working-mom Guilt?
To summarize, working-mom guilt arises when situations like the following occur: you’re at work while your little one is either at daycare or being taken care of by someone else and you feel like you’re missing important moments in your child’s life or you have to take a day off from work to care for your sick child. Many other situations can cause working-mom guilt, but the feelings are genuine. Although it’s impossible to eradicate this feeling, in this post, I’ll share some tips on how to deal with working-mom guilt healthily.
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
For me, this is an essential step in dealing with working-mom guilt. The healthiest thing you can do is to acknowledge and validate your feelings. If you have someone that you can confide in, don’t be ashamed in describing your feelings to them. While it might be easy to admit that you miss your little one, it’s harder to admit to yourself that you enjoy your career, for fear of being deemed a “bad mom.” Remember, you are not alone in the way your situation or the way you feel, and it’s perfectly reasonable to want to have both a family and a career.
2. Be Open and Honest With Your Employer
One thing that has always been important for me in my career is that I can keep it in sync with my personal life. By telling my boss upfront that my child is my top priority, it helps avoid fear and frustration on days where I have to stay home with my son because he’s sick or if I have to leave work a little bit early to pick him up from school. I make sure to put in 100% at work, but when my child needs me, it’s crucial for my boss to know that’s where my full attention will turn to. Many employers are reasonable and understanding, but take note that it’s essential, to be honest with them from the beginning to avoid frustration on anyone’s part.
3. Keep a Photo or Memento At Work
Sometimes I keep a toy car in my purse, and I have a photo of my son as my wallpaper on my phone. I still miss him like crazy, but it helps me remember that I’ll see him soon.
4. Remind Yourself Why You Work
Another one of my favorite coping skills. While I love the feeling of personal accomplishment at the end of a productive workday, I continuously remind myself that the time I spend at work will help me provide for my son and give him his best possible chance at success. I know the stress of a financial struggle, and it’s not a feeling that I ever want to impose on my son. I want to make sure he has all the tools and resources available to succeed in school and later in his career without the added stress of wondering how mommy and daddy will make ends meet.
5. Spend Meaningful Moments With Your Little One
What I look forward to most at the end of a long workday is coming home and playing trucks with my son. I make sure that when work is over, I give him my full attention and judging by his smiles, hugs, and kisses, he appreciates our special one on one time. The following day at work, my spirits are lifted when I think about our moments.
I want to end this post by reminding every working-mom about accountability to herself. As mothers, we sacrifice many things without complaint. It’s vital to not lose ourselves, and if your career is something important to you, you need to acknowledge it. Speaking with your significant other or someone close to you can help with feelings of working-mom guilt. Finding a support group of other working-moms is helpful as well. If you’re looking for a group of career-moms, feel free to join MOMumental‘s Facebook group, an online community designed to connect working-moms and provide them with a safe and non-judgmental support group. Make sure to follow @mom.umental on Instagram as well!