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A working mom of four shares how she has kept the dreaded mom guilt away while working outside the home and simultaneously raising four children.
In the 21st century, it seems like we have a name for everything we feel. Mom guilt is a popular prognosis for what many working moms feel. In 2012, I became a mom to a beautiful baby girl. Even though I’ve only been a mom for a little over 5 years I feel like I’ve got a ton of experience in this arena. In 2014, we had a boy who is now almost 4, and we were also surprised with twin boys in August of 2015. Through all of this, I kept working full time outside of the home.
How to Keep Mom Guilt at Bay
So many people are surprised to find out that I work outside of the home when asking about the kids and our day-to-day life. In my 5 years of motherhood, I’ve had my fair share of mom guilt moments, but there are two times that stand out the most.
The first was a week before I went back to work after my daughter was born. I had been with her for 6 weeks and I had no idea how I would feel going back to work. Would I cry dropping her off at the sitter’s house or would I be excited to get back to work? I felt like at week 5 and 6 I was somewhat getting the hang of being a mom. She was finally breastfeeding like a champ even though we struggled the first couple of weeks, and we were getting into our little routine. And here I was about to turn her world upside down. I felt like I was completely changing everything she had ever known. Mom guilt is so tough because you are responsible for another human being, and to many of us, this is such a daunting task. To have the pressure of knowing that every decision, no matter how big or small, you make changes these little ones’ lives.
The second time I felt the worst mom guilt was last year when my daughter was in preschool. I had picked her up from school and she was telling me about her day and how they had their Valentine’s party. While she was telling me about her day she said, “At the party, all the moms were there except you. Why were you not there?” I literally felt all the air leave my body. I panicked and my mind was going a mile a minute, “Was I really the only mom not there?” I thought. That day was a tough pill to swallow as I felt like I had just been given the “Worst Mom of the Year” award by my daughter.
Being a mom is the toughest job and I can definitely say that having a full-time job outside of the home is a whole different ballgame.
Have a Good Support System
Having a good support system is key. I think now more than ever we realize the importance of other’s help in raising kids these days. It takes a lot of people to keep everything running smoothly. Although my husband and I don’t have any immediate family that lives in the same town as us, we still have so much help and we are beyond thankful. His parents and my mom are always a phone call away and come up whenever we need them. We have our sitter that has kept all our kids from when they were infants until they head to preschool. This year we also hired a college student that picks up our oldest from school.
Ignore Pressure from Society’s Ideal
In a 2012 Pew Research survey, 75% of people surveyed answered that having a mother who does not work at all or works part-time is the ideal situation for young children. However, 70% of women with children 18 years and under participate in the work force.
You can see that society’s pressure is high on working moms from the get-go. The way I deal with society’s pressure is knowing that what my husband and I have decided for our family is best. Whether you are a full-time mom, part-time, or a SAHM they all have their pros and cons. There is not one single perfect answer and each decision comes with its own obstacles.
Work Life Balance
Does anyone ever really have a work life balance? I envision how hard it is to keep a see-saw completely aligned and balanced without tipping it to one side. I don’t really think there is ever an ideal work life balance because as soon as I feel close to attaining it, something changes and I need to focus more time on the kids, family, or my job. Additionally, all moms know that we go through different seasons of life and we have to make adjustments to our daily schedules.
Having the goal of meeting a work life balance seems to only bring more stress and anxiety to our lives, as we’re trying to reach something that is not really attainable.
Instead try to live each day, week, or season with what you feel is best for you and your family.
It seems that every year we get busier and busier. Everyone seems to have less and less time, even though we all still have the same 24 hours in a day. If you, like me, feel guilty because you don’t feel like you have enough time for specific things in your life (kids, work, self-care) it’s ok! In the past year, I have learned to only say yes to the best and to let everything else go. I can’t be everywhere at the same time. I can’t volunteer for every school event. It’s just not possible.
In 2017, we really looked at our schedule and took out the items that weren’t priority. We definitely added some new items, like my husband is the High School Youth Minister at church, and I also just took a position as one of the board of directors for our local Women’s Resource Center.
If there is something in your life that you would like to do no matter what, you’ll figure out how to make it a priority.
As our kids get older we find what really helps is to communicate with them. Anyone with young kids knows they ask A LOT of questions and we really try our best to answer them in a way they can comprehend for their age.
The day my daughter told me that I was the only mom not at her Valentine’s party we talked about it. I told her I was sorry that I wasn’t able to make it. That I wasn’t able to take off that day at work. We talked about how mom and dad both work to make sure we have the things that we need for her and her brothers and that means we won’t always be able to go to all the activities at school. I told her to let me know if there is anything she wants me to go to and I would try my best to make it.
Getting Some “Me Time”
One of the things I personally feel the most mom guilt about is when I want to take some time for myself. Let’s be honest, after working all week I felt like I should spend every waking second with the kids because that time seems few and far between. But then I felt myself literally running on empty. I was tired and extra snappy with the kids and my husband. I talked to my husband about this and we agreed it would do us BOTH good if we each took some time for ourselves. If taking some time for yourself is new to you, start by taking baby steps. Wake up 30 minutes before everyone in the house for some quiet time, go for a 10-minute walk outside, or take 30 minutes to read a book or listen to a podcast. Know that doing something for yourself will not only help you, but it will help you be more present with others as well.
Remember that at one point or another, all of us get hit with mom guilt. Be supportive to other moms. One of the toughest things about mom guilt is that we feel so alone. So, reach out to others if you’re having a tough time, (comment below!) Or use your experience as an opportunity to reach out to others when they need help.
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Gretchen Dauzat is a wife, mom to 4, entrepreneur, and writer. Her passion is to empower moms to realize, cultivate, and pursue their passions beyond motherhood. When not folding loads of laundry, you can find her having a dance party with her family or listening to a great audiobook. Follow her on Instagram at gretchendauzat.