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Not a day goes by when I am not burdened by the weight of inadequacy. The feeling that I could have done better for my son, at work or with the hundreds of other things that I have to juggle on any given day.
If you are a working mom, I can assume that this is a feeling that you can relate with.
Hey mama? Pull up a seat, let’s talk.
You see, motherhood is hard. And modern motherhood? It is even harder.
With the pressures of social media and society, we struggle with the responsibility of raising our future generation.
Whether you choose to stay at home or return to the workforce, the work that you do is inestimable and worth celebrating, and definitely not something to feel guilty about. Here are five practical tips for how to cope with guilt.
5 Tips For Dealing With Working Mom Guilt (A Practical Guide)
The Working Mom Dilemma
Amy Westervelt sums it up beautifully in her book Forget Having it All, when she says: “We expect women to work like they don’t have children, and raise children as if they don’t work.”
“We expect women to work like they don’t have children, and raise children as if they don’t work.”Amy Westervelt
Our society consistently glorifies work. Yet when it comes to working moms, we are made to feel like we are not living up to some sort of expectation.
While popular culture often characterizes the stay at home moms as sweet and caring. The symbol of care and compassion. She is the nurturing mom who always puts her children first. Working moms, on the other hand, are regularly depicted as selfish and forgetful.
Enter Working Mom Guilt
Almost every working mom that I have spoken to can relate with the idea of feeling guilt when they are at work and guilt when they are at home.
Whether the guilt stems from missing your child’s recital or milestone, not providing fresh home made meals every single day, or for not having the perfect family photos to post on social media, the result is the same.
You feel down and beat yourself up, wondering how everyone else makes it look so easy.
As a working mom, you may even feel that you are not doing enough at work or at home. Many mothers talk about making decisions that mess their kids up in the long run. The effects for some moms are physical. You can feel the weight on the shoulders, it disrupts your sleep and affects your mood, making it difficult for you to truly be present when you are at work or with your child.
I want to start by telling you that you are not alone. In fact, studies have shown that one in four of us are so overwhelmed with achieving work-life harmony that we cry alone at least once a week.
How To Let Go Of Working Mom Guilt
Identify The Source Of Your Feelings
The first thing that I believe you should do is to identify the source of your feelings.
It is important to recognize that guilt is a feeling that you are attaching to something- an experience or an action. Like all feelings, it stems from a thought and a belief that you are holding on to.
Once you start to understand where those feelings come from, you can begin to work on managing the root cause.
You might even find that your feelings are heightened when you feel stressed or when you do not get enough sleep.
Start by working on those areas that are under your control and you will find that the feelings slowly begin to feel less distressing.
Get Clear On Your Values
When you have a lot on your plate, it can get difficult to know how to prioritize each one.
As you get clear on your values, you can begin to plan your days, being sure that you are spending your time and energy in a way that aligns with your values.
This means that when you are asked to stay late on the same day your son has a soccer game, you can confidently say no without feeling remorse. Instead of feeling bad about leaving, you can reframe your thoughts to say I made the decision to go to my son’s soccer game because it is important to me.
Seek Support And Ask For Help
The problem with trying to ‘have it all’ is that you often try to “do it all” as well. The truth is that none of us can actually do it all on our own. Raising a child is rarely effective as a one man show, You need to take advantages of the resources around you and the people in your life. It is ok to ask for help when you need it.
Unfollow Social Media Accounts That Trigger Mom Guilt
Social media has a way of making us feel like we are the only ones going through a certain thing.
You get home from a long day of work, struggle to get your child through dinner, bath time and bedtime without either of you in tears. Instead of beaming with pride over what you have just accomplished, you find yourself brimming with envy as you scroll through your instagram feed and wonder… How? What is it that I am missing? And why can’t I have even just a bit of that?
The problem with social media is that we only see the highlight reel. Everyone struggles with the messy moments, we just do not share it.
Instead of falling deep into the comparison trap, step away from social media when you need to. Do not be afraid to unfollow accounts who make you feel down and uninspired.
Stop Following Other People’s Rules
One thing that we tend to do as moms who want what’s best for our children, is follow other people’s rules.
We go on the mommy blogs, read books and articles to learn about the opinions of everyone else. While I am all for gaining knowledge, we also need to recognize when we are consuming too much of other people’s opinion and failing to rely on our own intuition.
As moms, we need to be confident about the fact that we know what’s best for our children. And even when we make mistakes, it is all a part of the process. Acknowledge this fact and learn to let things go easily, trust in yourself and go with the flow.
Stop Feeling Like You’ve Done Something Wrong
Finally, remember that guilt is an emotion that we feel when we have done something wrong. Working outside of the home is not innately wrong, so you really should have no reason to feel guilt.
You are not harming your child by going to work. If anything, you are sacrificing for them. And sacrifice is really at the heart of what motherhood is.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Leave a comment and let me know if you have experienced this feeling and if you have any additional tips for dealing with working mom guilt!