Bye-Bye Feeling Guilty Being a Working Mom
Learn 3 things to keep in mind when the mom guilt arises, as you are trying to balance your professional and private life.
I remember how special it felt being pregnant for the first time. We wanted to have kids, and we were lucky enough that I got pregnant easily. However, when we saw the positive pregnancy test, one of my first thoughts were “how will my employer respond?”, “I have a fixed-term contract, will it be extended?”, “what will my direct colleagues say when they realize they have to carry the workload for me?”. I felt guilty. I was already reassuring my boss I would be there for as long as I could, even before she got the chance to be happy for me. When she stopped me to congratulate me, I realized: I was blessed to work for an employer that was truly happy for me and supportive towards my personal and professional dreams and goals.
Looking back now, I find it sad that I felt ‘blessed’ working for an inclusive employer. Do not get me wrong, I did feel blessed and am happy to this day that there are employers out there that are challenging the status quo and making a choice, including mine. But why does our society make women feel the need to apologize for pregnancy in the first place?
Work-life balance as a working mom
I have always been driven. Then, motherhood happened. Coming back from maternity leave, that was no different. However, I was not prepared for the guilt that motherhood brought to my work-life balance. Recognizable for many, I am sure, I always felt like I needed to be somewhere else all the time. I always felt I could and should do better. I always felt the need to be more productive within the time I had at that moment, either at work, at home with my kids, partner, or friends. Not to mention, I dreamt about some me-time from time to time as well but felt that that was the ultimate final step to take when organizing my calendar, which—as you can imagine—it never came to.
Until I recognized that I had a choice too.
There is so much we cannot control, so let’s focus on what we can control instead. Feeling guilty should not be part of pregnancy, motherhood, nor the rest of your life.
Of course, employers should provide an environment that embraces leave for their staff having children, and for moms not to feel afraid for the response they would get when announcing pregnancy. But there are also things you can keep in mind yourself to let go of the guilt and live a happy life instead—as a mom, you can make a choice too.
3 things to keep in mind when the mom guilt arises.
- You are good enough.
Read that again. You do what you can and that is enough. Period. Ending the day feeling guilty has most to do with the expectations we set for ourselves. There is no such thing as the perfect mom or the perfect employee, and better yet, we should not chase that. The perfectionist in us needs to excel in everything, but I can promise you: you never will. Teaching your kids to be imperfect but happy is more realistic, and so much more important than being perfect.
- Focus is key.
If there is one action you can take that benefits everyone, it is living in the moment. Physically and emotionally being there when you are having “kids-time”, in work mode, or having quality time with your partner or friends. You might still feel there is not as much time as you would like to have, but the time you have is well spent. And you might even get more productive in the process.
- Laugh about it.
Laugh about the imperfect situations. You can be the best multi-tasker, managing kids and work. Then, COVID happens and you sit at home with your kids, trying to do your work, while raising them at the same time. Laugh about your kids not following your daily routine, not willing to put on their shoes to go to school, which causes you to be late because you got stuck in traffic. Laugh about others’ vision on what good parenting looks like and stay true to yourself. Feeling the liberty to truly be yourself and make decisions that feel right for you is the best lesson to teach your kids.
There is no such thing as a perfect work-life balance when you are a parent. You cannot raise kids as if you do not work and you cannot work as if you do not have kids. You CAN do it all if you focus and plan well, but embracing the fact that not everything goes according to plan is critical to success.
Check out our blogs for more tips on managing your professional and personal life.