Here are 4 strategies for banishing Mommy guilt once and for all. Each day millions of mothers get up, make breakfast, dress their children, take them to school or daycare, and then go to work. Moms who work at home also need to find some way to keep their children cared for while they work. Many may still suffer from mommy guilt!
Mommy Guilt may tie these moms together
Working mothers may feel some combination of the emotions listed below depending on their support system, personal ideas about how mothers ought to be, and cultural influences that are part of their community.
- Am I failing my children?
- Seems as if I am not giving my children enough time.
- Feeling overwhelmed with trying to have a career and a family.
- I can’t do this much longer.
- Why isn’t there a better support system for working mothers?
- My life seems unmanageable.
Research Provides Insights into Mommy Guilt
These feelings are normal, particularly when the burden of childcare sits on the shoulders of women. Men don’t usually suffer from Daddy Guilt as it relates to the care of children. I’m sure there some men feel guilty about being away from their children, but for the most part, this is a female dilemma. However, men today often feel more pull to experience a better work-life balance in order to spend more time with their families. They don’t often experience the same level of self-doubt or debilitating guilt about not being good enough Fathers. A more recent Pew Research study demonstrated that while men’s roles in raising their children are changing, they still don’t share the care equally. More importantly, 45% say it is better for the children, if the mother stays home with the child.
Our culture often programs women to be caregivers. Studies show that, while it has improved, women still bear the major burden of childcare and household chores. Upwards of 46% of households include two working full-time parents. A Pew Research study showed that women are still the main caregivers. In addition, the study showed that 64% of women reported that they provided the majority of care while 53% of the men conceded that this is true.
Effects on Working Mothers
Working mothers must manage both a full-time job and carry the responsibility for care of the children. Mothers manage children’s activities, take care of them when they are sick, and provide for their major needs. As a result, they experience a double bind: do more at work to get ahead like the admonition to “lean in”, and be a super mom by ensuring the happiness of their children.
Strategies for banishing mommy guilt:
- Don’t worry about the small stuff such as a messy house or the piles of laundry. Ask for some help from your spouse or if there is no spouse, try to find another way to get help. This can be one of the biggest challenges to banishing mommy guilt. Sometimes it takes creativity and a willingness to recognize that you need some support. Sit with that struggle and try to find a creative solution. People may be waiting in the wings to help.
- Give yourself a break. Millions upon millions of children are being raised by working mothers. Children of working mothers more oven than not, turn out just fine. Single working mothers raised two of the last five presidents. Take a breath and realize that you are doing the best you can. In April 2017 the website workingmom.com posted the 50 Most Powerful Moms of 2016. Adana Friedman COO, NASDAQ OMX Group and mother of two “advised us all to spare ourselves the guilt: “I really believe that I’ve been a better parent from being a working mother. And so I wish I hadn’t been burdened with that amount of guilt for so long. I wish someone had said, ‘It’s okay.’ It’s a matter of prioritizing your time so that outside of work you are there for the important things.”
- Try to structure the time you need to find work/life balance. Make conscious decisions about your time and communicate with your partner and children about your work life. A partner who supports your work outside the home and shares the household duties helps with work/life balance.
- Finally, if you feel guilty, don’t let it overtake you so that you overcompensate as a parent. Remember, when it comes to your children, guilt is a useless emotion. You are doing the best you can. Accept that and give yourself credit for being aware. Be there for your children when they really need you.
Remember to be present when you are with your children. Try to put the workday away and focus on them. The challenges of balancing priorities takes a willingness to examine your values and determine what is most important at that time. Stay present to yourself and let go of all the “shoulds” about being a Mom.
Pat Magerkurth is a life and career coach, helping Moms put an end to mommy guilt so they can get back to enjoying their lives. If you’re struggling with needless guilt, sleepless nights or anxiety that you’re not good enough, reach out to Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org today to see if working together can help.