Women—brave, empowered, phenomenal. While the debate about who is the more powerful gender may last a lifetime, we cannot deny women of the credit they deserve for the significant role they play in society. From the stability and development of nations to the strengthening of families, women have helped shape the world into a better place.
But there’s one thing some women, specifically, mothers, feel guilty about; having a career. Since time immemorial, social norms in some cultures dictate that mothers should stay at home and take care of the family. You’re a mother, and you know this shouldn’t always be the case, right? So why the guilt? If there is still a feeling of guilt or you still have parenting regrets after you’ve thought everything through, don’t worry! We got you covered for that working mom guilt. Read on!
The Struggles of a Working Mom
According to the United States’ Census Bureau’s data last 2018, 32% or one-third of all employed women in the country are mothers. Out of the 23.5 million women who have children under 18 years old, two-thirds worked full-time. Like you, these mothers face different challenges as they juggle their responsibilities to their child and their work. Here’s a glimpse of a working mom’s life:
1. Weekends? What are those?
No one works twenty-four hours per day and seven days per week. Well, except for parents. They may be off their job in the company for one or two days, but their responsibilities toward their children cover the entire week—Mondays to Sundays. And one of the biggest challenges of motherhood is the child’s need for their mother to take care of them. Unlike having a job, there’s no fixed schedule for that, be it weekdays or weekends. Also, there are times when a busy working mother has to accomplish her work-related task on a weekend because it’s “urgent.” As a result, some mothers won’t even know and feel the difference between weekdays and weekends.
2. Oh, no! My Child is Sick
Mothers would always want their children to be in their optimal health condition. But no matter how careful they are in keeping their child safe from sickness, there are really instances wherein a baby catches a cold or gets sick. It would break a mother’s heart to leave her sick child at home and focus on her work. When she tries to finish her projects in the office, she will feel like her guilt will consume her mind. And the only way to get rid of this guilt is to go home and take care of her little one. Therefore, most mothers have to take a day off. Although they don’t get to use their leaves for going on a vacation or taking a rest, they wouldn’t mind that much because, for them, it’s family above all else, even themselves.
3. Help! It’s Hard to Choose between Two Things
One of the hardest working mom struggles comes when they have to choose between their job and their family. Yes, family always comes first. But what if we’re talking about promotion and the child’s awarding ceremony? Say, for example, a working mother puts extra time and effort into a presentation that would lead to her promotion. However, it so happened that it’s her child’s awarding ceremony the same day she will have that presentation. What would she choose? In this situation, what matters more? We all know that it’s tough to weigh two important things. For this reason, some working mothers fail to witness their child’s milestones and special moments. It may be sad to think about, but in the end, these moms just work hard for their family and the future of their children.
4. Who Should I Trust?
Busy working parents need another helping hand to take care of their children while they are not around. But with the world we live in, it may be hard to trust someone else to look after your kid, who you love more than yourself. That is why choosing a nanny or hiring a babysitter is hard for the parents. They need to invest in someone responsible enough to ensure the safety and development of their children. On the part of the working mother, knowing who to trust and learning to trust is crucial to keep her sane. This way, she wouldn’t have to worry about her child because she knows that her little one is in good hands. Moreover, this enables her to give her 100% at work.
5. “Yes” Mom Guilt
Being the selfless people they are, the feeling of guilt might be the biggest challenge mothers face when pursuing their careers. While it is fulfilling to achieve something at work, some working moms feel guilty afterward just because they have enjoyed doing their job. Why? Because that would mean that they have placed their work first before their kids. Aside from that, most working mothers feel like they have left their children behind because of the limited time they spend with their kids. Thus, making them feel more guilty. And in some cases, they blame their absence when something bad happens to their child.
Such relatable situations, aren’t they? Are you ready to be a parent?
Mom, Stop Feeling Guilty!
In a single sentence, Amy Westervelt has clearly conveyed the dilemma of a working mother. A line in her book entitled Forget Having It All says, “We expect women to work like they don’t have children, and raise children as if they don’t work.” You couldn’t agree more, right? Chasing the balance of time between your work and your children is harder than you think it would be. So there comes the guilt. Most mothers feel guilty about working so hard, but it’s the same thing when they don’t. If only they could be two people at the same time just to give their all to their career and their family, they would. But always bear in mind that you have done enough, and the need to feel guilty is unnecessary. There is a multitude of reasons why you don’t have to be consumed by parenting guilt.
First, children of working mothers tend to learn significant things from their parents. It may look like you have little to no influence toward them, but that’s quite the opposite. When your child sees you working hard on your career, they will feel motivated to do the same in the future. Remember that you are your child’s role model, so be a good one. Although you have not heard your child say it, it is a big possibility that your child will look at what you do and think, “Someday, I want to be as persevered, focused, and goal-oriented as my mom.” And with the limited time you have for your children, you always want to make the best out of it, which is a really good thing. This way, the time you spend with your children will be more purposeful and enjoyable. In return, your children will seize every second of it.
Second, you must also remember that you are working not just for the accomplishment of your personal goals as a career woman. You are doing your duties in the corporate world for your family to have a sense of financial security as well. When it comes to money, you would not just settle for having enough, right? Parents don’t just want to have an adequate amount to cover the family’s daily expenses. It is equally vital to have enough money for emergencies and the future of the family and the children. When you have attained financial security, sleeping at night would be more peaceful because you won’t have to worry about where to get money when you need it. As a parent, you know that you can never tell what tomorrow may bring, so it would be best to always come prepared.
Lastly, keep in your heart and mind that your children will be fine. No, it’s not that they are better off without you. The times you spent being away from home to do your job, you have actually taught your children to be more independent, responsible, and caring. Other than that, children of working mothers are the ones who are most likely to know the best way to deal with various situations since they already have a mature way of thinking. Trust me, your children will be fine as long as you don’t completely lose the time you’re supposed to spend with them. Although it is normal to worry about their welfare, never make it distract you from your work. The only thing you have to make sure of is that you have to leave your children with a trusted guardian. Also, be present when they need you most as much as possible.
See? Working on your career while having children also has its benefits for you and your family.
A Strategic Guide for Working Moms
Right now, you may want to achieve a perfect work-life balance, but your senses tell you that you’re failing. Not so fast! Read this strategic guide we have prepared for you to attain success in being a mom and a career woman.
As a working mother, you have so much on your plate. The tasks specified in your to-do list may be endless. And as you try to accomplish everything by the end of the day, you may be confused as to what you will do first. Although doing the easy ones in the morning might sound tempting, it would greatly help if you will prioritize the task you dread doing the most. This way, you will have the energy to finish the said task before your will to do things runs out late in the afternoon. Therefore, you will be doing easier tasks as your day progresses, and it wouldn’t matter if you have less energy because such activities don’t really require that much effort. Ultimately, you will end your day doing the things you enjoy.
2. Be Flexible
You have your plans, and you want everything to go according to how you imagined it to be. However, we know for ourselves that things don’t always go as planned. For this reason, it is important to be flexible so that when some changes come in the middle of the day, you can always adapt and carry on. When Plan A doesn’t work, make sure to have a Plan B. Having backup plans helps you proactively respond when you face obstacles both in your work and at home.
3. Delegate Tasks
You’re no superhuman. When you try to do things beyond your limit, you will feel drained before your day ends. The best way to get through a mountain of tasks is to do what you can and delegate the others. Hiring someone to do the tasks at home for you will also help you get things done quickly. However, if you think that your elder child is responsible enough to do household chores, then trust him or her to it. Through this, you will incur lesser costs while teaching your child to be responsible. Apart from that, you also need to be honest with yourself and others when it comes to your job. If you need more time to accomplish the task, don’t be afraid to tell your boss. It’s better to do this so you can manage expectations and still give your best instead of doing things for the sake of doing it.
4. Avoid Distractions
One of the biggest distractions that kill productivity is the use of social media. While utilizing technology has its perks, the scary thing about it is you will forget about the time when you get too fixated by it. Hence, limit your use of social media as much as possible. If your job doesn’t require your online presence all the time, it will work if you will check your email twice a day: at the start of your shift and towards the end.
How Can You Let Go of the Working Mom Guilt?
If laying out to you the reasons why you should stop feeling guilty isn’t enough to ease the feeling of guilt in your heart, then maybe these tips on how to let that feeling go will help you.
1. Forget About the Rules
You may have friends who became moms before you or relatives who have lots of experiences to share when it comes to motherhood. Usually, these people tend to tell you the “rules” of parenthood. Although some of these may help you handle the stress and demands of being a working mom, you must also remember that these rules are just made up based on their personal experiences. There’s no single way to deal with different situations. That is why don’t be too fixed with the unwritten rules of motherhood. Because when you do, you might end up feeling guilty for not doing the things other people told you to do.
2. Manage Your Time Well
The effectiveness of how you handle your responsibilities as a working parent lies in your ability to use the time you have effectively. Keep in mind that aside from your career and your children, you also have to take care of yourself and your family. To help you manage your time, it would help to organize or map out a schedule and set up reminders on your phone. When you do this, it would be impossible for you to miss out on important events, which will set you free from guilt.
3. Acknowledge Your Mistakes
We all make mistakes. Even if regretting what you have done is completely normal, you should not let it consume you. The thing you have to do is to accept that you have your lapses, move on, and learn from it. But don’t stop there. If you know that you have to change your ways, then do so. Instead of focusing on your guilt, you have to direct your energy towards improving your relationship with your family. Most importantly, you should bear in mind that it’s okay to make mistakes and miss out on things on some days.
4. Spend a Whole Day With Your Child
We know how hard it would be to allot quality time to spend with your child. But if you find the opportunity to do so, then go for it. Make up for the lost time. Do activities with them, and enjoy each other’s company. You may also want to go outdoors to play their favorite sport with them. On this day, forget about the world for a bit and give a hundred percent of your attention to your child. You may not get to do this regularly, but your child will truly appreciate the effort, time, and attention you gave them.
The world has seen the most powerful and inspiring women—names written on books and stories passed from generation to generation. One of the most inspirational mothers in history was the African-American Harlem Renaissance poet Georgia Douglas Johnson. A traditional wife and mother, that’s what her husband wants her to be. However, she pursued her dreams and did what she is passionate about—writing. With poems that address racial issues, discuss motherhood, and express love, she has published four volumes of poetry. When her husband died, she raised her children, who were both teenagers, and put them through college alone. The best thing? She did all of that without giving up doing what she loved. As such, giving up on your dreams will never be the solution if you want to give your children the life they deserve. So always, always remind yourself that it’s more than okay to be a mother and have a career.