“For me, being a mother made me a better professional, because coming home every night to my girls reminded me what I was working for. And being a professional made me a better mother, because by pursuing my dreams, I was modeling for my girls how to pursue their dreams. ” – Michelle Obama
Being a working mom has honestly been an experience unlike anything I have ever done. Nothing in life has honestly made me more organized or actually caused me to maintain my calendar and planner for more than a few months. On the flip side, nothing has brought me to my knees more with feelings of inadequacy. The stinging frustration and working mom guilt that seems to be hiding around every corner is discouraging.
While it might be impossible to avoid the feelings of working mom guilt completely, you can work towards overcoming the feelings and dealing with this form of mom guilt. This post will share some of the ways I have been able to navigate my feelings of guilt as a mom who works and how I have been able to leverage my experience as a working mom to become a better parent.
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my entire affiliate disclosure here.
What is mom guilt?
Mom guilt is that feeling you get when you are feeding your child noodles and butter for the 4th time this week. It’s something that all of us have felt to some degree. It is a feeling of guilt, anxiousness, and uncertainty in regard to your parenting. For working mothers, mom guilt is compounded by the fact that time is so limited!
You have less time to spend with your children and thus less time to do all of the things you feel expected to do as a mom. Those expectations could be society driven or personally driven. No matter where the source of the expectation, the unmet expectations lead to feelings of guilt.
Why do moms feel guilty?
Working mom guilt is a result of the mental removal the uniqueness of your motherhood journey. We as moms feel it as we compare our mothering choices to what you perceive to be the experience of the group. This looks like worrying because you choose to let your kids have unlimited screen time when other moms limit it.
These feelings can be overwhelming for moms particularly when they haven’t fully embraced their particular circumstances, i.e. the working mom, the single mom, or the new mom. It can cause us to make choices that may not be the best for our overall well-being or increase anxiety as we mull over everyday parenting decisions. I cried for days when I felt that I needed to add formula to daughter’s diet. I felt like I was giving up and letting her down. It was the best decision for our family. There are many other reasons that mom’s feel guilty. Perhaps you’ve felt guilt because of some of these.
- Your reactions
- Your ability
- Lack of time
- Issues with relationships with children
- Comparison to other moms
- Unmet expectations
- Feeling overwhelmed
All of these are reasons that moms feel guilty. Whether you are a new mom learning how to be a mom or a seasoned mom still trying to figure it out, our desire for our children to have the best of is, becomes perfect fuel for us to be our own worst critic.
How to deal with mom guilt
If you are struggling or have struggled with any form of mom guilt, understand that you are not alone. You are simply joining a sisterhood of women who have felt that they were not enough for the great responsibility of raising tiny humans!
Processing through and dealing with mom guilt doesn’t have to be difficult but it will require work and intentionality. You have to begin to retrain your mind to see circumstances in the best light and break the habit of leading with criticism of your mothering.
Transform the mind by knowing the truth
The first step in learning how to deal with working mom guilt is to understand this truth.
YOU ARE NOT GUILTY!
Working does not make you a bad mom. Spending time outside of the home does not make you a bad mom. Excelling in your career does not make you a bad mom.
YOU ARE NOT GUILTY!
If your children are thriving. If your children are learning. You are doing a good job. Trust yourself and the way you were created. Know that you are not alone and understand that God made you for the children that you have.
You do not know the trajectory of your children’s future. Perhaps you are raising a CEO of a major company or the pastor of the local church. Maybe your child will be a senator or a researcher. Whatever the plans of their life, the example you set for them will be a part of that story. That means that the things that you do will shape their hearts and their minds and help them to become who they need to be. If you spend your time trying to be the mom next door, you do your children a disservice and deprive them of seeing you be everything that you are supposed to be for them.
Learn mechanisms to deal with frustrations
Another reason why moms may feel the sting of mom guilt is because of their reactions. They may be tired from a long day at work or stressed with their kids education or the millions of other mental load things that moms deal with. Whatever the case, they snap and in an instant feel like the worst mom ever. Understand that these moments happen but there are some tricks that have helped me.
- Use the dad bathroom trick. When I literally CAN NOT DEAL. I go to the bathroom, and even if I get 45 seconds to just close my eyes and get a quick, “JESUS, HELP,” out, I can extinguish the fires brewing enough to respond with more kindness
- Do a mental check of my needs. I hate to say it but many times I snap because I was hungry or sleepy. Conducting a mental check of my physical and mental needs, food, water, sleep, a good cry, help me to determine if I am annoyed because my kids being annoying or if I am annoyed because Hanger.
- Be intentional about self-care. Consider creating a self-care kit or having a self-care day! I can’t say this one enough. When I give and give and give, I out give my resources. When I do not intentionally focus on stewarding my mind, body, and soul blessings well, I lose myself in a sense.
- Maintain an active and consistent prayer life. When we have nothing else, we have God, and he is our provider. Being consistent in prayer allows us to connect to the source of our strength and allows us to grow our character so that the spiritual fruit of kindness flows from us.
Remind yourself that you are enough with affirmations
Another way to deal with working mom guilt is to practice reciting affirmations! Reminding yourself often that you are enough, and that your children are blessed because you are their mother is a great way to stave off the mom guilt and to grow in appreciation of the mom that you are to your little ones.
I love to read about the Proverbs 31 woman. She is often described when discussing being a wife. But when we look at all of the things she did. She has qualities that every working mom aspires to. She is:
- Capable v10
- Resourceful v16
- A planner v15
- Intelligent v18
- An entrepreneur v18
- Energetic v17
- Hardworking v17
- Creative v19
- Prepared v21
- Kindhearted v26
- Loved v28
If you are looking for affirmations to help remind you that it is okay to be a mama who works, consider using this list and add “I am” before it. Embrace the attitude of the Proverbs 31 woman who was able to do some much in her time.
Set-aside time to be present with your children
Because the time away from our kids tends to be the biggest reason we feel guilty, being intentional about the time that you do spend with the, is an important solution. Understand that your time is limited. With working, commutes, and any home time that you may have to spend on work projects, it can be hard to fit in the amount of time you want to spend with your kids daily. I recommend creating room in your schedule for standing dates or activities.
My family has a family movie night. Our son gets to pick a movie, and a sweet snack. We pop popcorn and eat pizza and gather around and watch a movie. He LOVES this time. We’re making memories.
A friend of mine goes on hikes often. Every weekend her family packs up and they are traveling around Alaska enjoying the many trails we have here. It’s their thing, its consistent, and she’s being intentionally present.
Even if you can’t manage more long drawn out time you can do simpler things like:
- Daily story time
- Morning car-ride devotional
- Dinnertime conversations
- Consistent questions about their day during meal prep
What you do doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be you. Honestly, this is all our babies ever really want.
Balancing work and motherhood
I know it is tiring, but you are doing great! The trick is in the balance. Learning to manage yourself and little ones at the same time can absolutely take a toll on you. The important thing is to find routine, to connect with God, and to keep pressing on!