Do you have working mom’s guilt?
Prior to deciding to have children, advancing and achieving my career goals was my primary focus. Having my daughter put many things into perspective and I struggled with the guilt of having to work. Many women I have spoken to, describe having working mom guilt and some have chosen to end their careers in order to devote their time to their children.
Having my daughter put many things into perspective!
I often joke about being a stay at home mother, but I am a very independent person and I cannot imagine myself with my daughter all day, everyday. I commend parents who are able to be stay at home parents, but it is not a role that I see myself being successful with.
It makes me jealous that someone else gets to spend so much time with my daughter
Despite not wanting to be a stay at home mother, I struggle with having to leave my daughter for 40 hours per week. I am jealous that my daycare provider gets to know my daughter on a more intimate level than my husband or me. Advancing in my career, being a good wife/mother, and also maintaining a good sense of self are all very important to me.
Working mom guilt is real!
In the beginning, I felt significant mom guilt about going to work, but also about engaging in other activities that forced me to spend additional time away from my daughter. I went from being in a helper role throughout the day to being in mother mode in the evenings and on the weekends. I quickly lost my sense of self and as a result, started to further resent my role as a professional and as a mother. It is so easy to get caught up in what is causing my current stress, what I am doing wrong, or in what I need to be doing, that I have lost sight of all the beautiful things that are occurring around me.
Self-care is the key
I have learned that ongoing self-care is the key to combating working mom guilt and improving my overall mental and physical health. Establishing a normal self-care routine is difficult for many professionals, but especially for working mothers.
How am I going to make time to do something for myself when I have an endless to do list to accomplish?
Even though I like to think of myself as the relaxed momma, I have strict expectations of the daily care of my daughter (my poor husband). It was very difficult for me to give up the control of taking care of my daughter, so that I can make time to take care of myself.
I had to teach myself how to accept help
When I don’t practice appropriate self-care, I find myself feeling more stress and tension throughout my body, I am more irritable towards my family, and I am not as patient with my daughter. As a therapist, I spend all day listening to other’s problems, with the expectation that I help them fix their problem. I am a giver and I had to teach myself how to accept the help, which helped me to reduce my feelings of working mom guilt.
I had to refocus my attention
In addition to scheduling time for me to practice self-care, I have incorporated small tasks into my daily routine that allow me to practice brief self-care tasks throughout my day. These self-care exercises take no more than ten minutes, and do not require much effort to complete them. The purpose is to give me a short mental break, to help me to feel less stressed, and to refocus my attention. These tasks are necessary every day because they help me to have less work mom guilt, reduce my stress, and help me to be better attentive to my family when I am with them.
The last thing I want to do is spend my time with my family focusing on my current stressors, my job, or what I did not get accomplished for the day. I have found that forgiving myself, focusing on my goals, and making a commitment to move forward is much more effective for me.
So, how do mothers who are professionals, reduce their feelings of working mom guilt, be more accepting to their sense of self, and continue to move forward? Self-care of course!! I have compiled a list of five quick self-care strategies that mothers can use to reduce working mom guilt.
1. Positive affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that a person repeat to themselves. By utilizing positive affirmations, a person can start to re train their brain to be more optimistic and focus on their strengths and other positive aspects of their lives. Some examples of positive affirmations for the working mom include: I am lovable and I am loved; I am enough; I am smart and I am capable.
Positive affirmations should be used daily and can be repeated often until the statement starts to feel true. Also writing affirmations on sticky notes and placing them in common places throughout your home, car, or work place can serve as reminders to take a minute to practice self-care.
2. Deep Breathing
There are many benefits to deep breathing to include: improving digestion, increased energy, and reducing stress. Deep breathing allows your brain to take a break and to calm down. Deep breathing is something that you should practice daily and it is also a very simple skill that can be done anywhere. To deep breath, you inhale slowly through your nose, and exhale slowly through pursed lips. Blowing bubbles is also a good way to encourage deep breathing.
3. Sitting in Silence
One thing that I miss about my pre baby days is the ability to sit without any noise or distractions. Sitting in silence allows you time to process thoughts and feelings that you may have been avoiding throughout the day. It also allows you to reset and process what next steps you may need to take.
I find myself riding in my car without music or sitting in my car in my driveway for periods of time, thinking. When I focus on thoughts that I have been trying to avoid, some of my stressors seem less of a problem and I find myself better able to problem solve.
4. Listening to Music
Taking a few minutes and listening my favorite song is very effective for me. Sometimes I do this with my daughter because she loves to dance and clap with me. Other times I turn the music up when I am alone in my car and allow the words to speakto me. Music can be very therapeutic and one song can shift my mood in a positive way.
5. Setting Goals
After becoming a mother, I found that my own personal goals were put to the back burner and my sole focus was on my family. Family continues to be very important to me, but I have made time to continue to develop myself as a professional and as a person. I have set long term goals for myself as well as attainable short term goals to help me work towards my long term goals.
Being able to periodically review my future goals as well as the short term steps I have taken to achieve these goals is a major motivator for me. Some days I want to focus on my working mom guilt and it is difficult for me to envision my future and identity outside of being someone’s mother.
Balancing my role as a wife/mother and my career while maintaining my sense of self is something that I have to consciously work towards on a daily basis. Self-care is key to decreasing working mom guilt, but to also prevent caregiver burnout. Simple tasks that take little effort can be effective in reducing stress and improving a person’s mental health.
Do you practice self-care? How do you deal with working mom guilt?
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