Working moms, we are completely in this together. Did you know? One in four of us are so overwhelmed with achieving work-life harmony that we cry alone at least once a week, according to a 2014 Care.com survey. Getting eight hours of quality sleep every day, excelling in our career, taking care of kids, managing chores, plus having family and personal time is not easy.
Parent guilt can happen for working mothers who feel shame for leaving their kids at home while they go to work. On the contrary, stay-at-home mothers may also feel guilt for not earning an income to support their families.
You might find yourself asking yourself, how can I be the best mother? But resisting the tendency to compare ourselves to other moms, asking for help with chores and children, and hiring a professional coach can help alleviate working mom guilt. There is a lot to lose out if we go it alone. Less joy, happiness, productivity, plus the emotional and health consequences of working mommy guilt.
How do you deal with your mom, especially when she was working or parenting full time? You know that she did her best!
Keep that in mind, and here's some more advice from other moms, plus a quote from fellow wellness advocate Arianna Huffington to inspire you.
“I think while all mothers deal with feelings of guilt, working mothers are plagued by guilt on steroids!” — Arianna Huffington, Sleep Evangelist
Working mom guilt is a “feeling that creeps in every so often that you aren't spending enough time with your children, and that by working, you're somehow not doing what is best for your children. I have it once every couple of weeks." — Amy Dugan, attorney at King & Fisher
"I describe working mom guilt as the feeling that I should be home with my child. It's an ache in my chest that tells me my daughter needs me and she is safest with me. I have it when I am away on business trips, or when she is not feeling well. I probably have it about once a week!" — Meredith Jaeger, author published by Harper Collins
"I thought it would be so easy working from home, more time with kids, my terms. Mom guilt was still happening because I had to carve out time for work (with no distractions). But I have it more now. I am “here” more, but the guilt is attributed to still not being 'present' all the time." — Eryn Vargo, founder, Moms Give Back
"I want you to know that I know how it feels. I know how it feels to feel guilty as you dry your hair in the morning and the baby watches you from a bouncy seat. I know the sting that pierces your heart when you hand your precious little one to their caretaker and you catch excitement in their eyes. That irrational fear that your baby will think someone else is their mama. Or that this person is doing a better job than you. Or — maybe the most painful thought for me personally — that they know your baby better than you do. I know the fatigue that sets in when all you feel is guilty: guilty that you like going to work, guilty that you want to go home early to be with your baby. Guilty when you miss a milestone or guilty when you have to stay late to catch up on a project. Guilty when you forget about an upcoming meeting or guilty that you have to leave early because the baby got sick. Guilty that it’s been three months back at work and shouldn’t this feel normal by now?" — Alicia Keswani (originally shared on Lean In)
“I remind myself that my kids likely feel the same way, and they don't miss me as much as I think they do. My mom worked, and all my friends' moms worked. We didn't know any different, and there wasn't a single moment growing up that I thought my mom should be home with me, rather than working.” — Amy Dugan
“We have a routine on Saturdays. Dance class in the morning, breakfast at IHOP then we go grocery shopping. Sundays are best spent reading or watching TV together and doing other fun activities like finger painting or going to the museum or the park.” — Shermain Jeremy, founder of 4 Moms Like Me
“To relieve working mom guilt, I go into overdrive when I can be physically present with my child, to assure them they have my focus and love too.” — Kristen Vargo, working mother
“I talk to my kids about the problems in life that they want to solve and how my work ties into that. I’ve been surprised at their answers and understanding. Also, having someone very close to me in life that releases me from having to feel guilty helps." — Lindsay Rassoull, senior vocational rehab manager
“I try to spend as much time as I can with the kids. I also try to leave the social media and things aside when I'm with them.” — Lisa Kovacks, ALLIED health professional
“Most people view guilt as a scary thing. Moms are no exception. But like any other emotion, guilt has an important function. Let guilt serve as an internal compass that reminds you to slow down.” — Joy Acaso, licensd clinical social worker
“It is difficult to leave your child of 4 months and go to work for 8 hours plus travel time. I coped by reminding myself that she is around other babies and doesn’t really know or understand that I’m leaving here there. Plus she’s at a good daycare with good people.” — Joy Best, working mother
“Every day I enjoy a cup of hot chamomile tea, or another herbal tea, pop some lavender oil on a tissue, and have 5 minutes of interrupted time.” — Jane Robertson, working mother
“I start my work day by going to the gym, and I schedule family getaways!” — Shauna Armitage of Making Moxie
"I take my full lunch break at work and listen to music. I turn my phone on do not distrub too." — Victoria Smith, working mother
“I make sleep and healthy meals a priority. It sounds rather basic, but getting the necessities in order, helps me function and feel better.” — Amy Dugan
Many parents deal with this, so know that you're not alone. Still, mommy guilt isn't fun to deal with. Working mothers (whether you work a full-time job or part-time hours) know that feeling guilty can take a serious toll on one's mental health, which ultimately isn't good for doing one's job well either. Even stay-at-home moms feel guilty with their whole to-do list, too. Whatever it is that's keeping you from spending quality time with your son or daughter, you need to work on how you approach your work-life balance instead of feeling guilty.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all to this whole mommy thing. If a hot shower is your act of self-care, take one. If it's two deep breaths outside before you step into your car, take them. If it's eight hours of sleep during the body's most regenerative time, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., sleep away. What matters is that we start somewhere, celebrate our progress and prioritize the things that matter most to us. Being a mother is the perfect catalyst for professional and personal growth.