When my daughter was a baby, people at work would lament how hard it must be for me to be away from her, and other moms would express their guilt. I thought something was wrong with me because I wasn’t torn between a kid and work like I apparently should be. Yes, I was stressed and exhausted, yet guilt rarely reared its ugly head. Still, I see at least one article a week about this phenomenon, which led me to consider why and what can help?
One Mom’s Story
My friend Holli shared with me that she used to feel guilty about doing things for herself because her single mom never did. She knew she needed to make a change when she heard Oprah talking about figuring out who you are if you aren’t your career or someone’s mom. She struggled with guilt again when the pandemic hit and her daughter had to spend time alone at home and take care of herself. She knew she had to compromise, so chose to focus on the skills her daughter was learning and the quality times they had together. Her story encapsulates the struggle for many working moms – the demands of career, family, and self-care. Guilt arises when we repeatedly let one of those buckets drain.
Try these tips for a month and do away with working mom guilt.
Guilt is not necessarily a bad thing. Brene Brown says “I’m pro-guilt. Guilt is good…. It occurs when we compare something we’ve done – or failed to do – with our personal values.” Guilt is our brain saying hey something doesn’t feel right, so let’s figure this out. Take a little time to journal, walk, or meditate and ask yourself, what values do I need to honor more? Keep asking until you gain clarity.
Block Your Time
Time blocking can change your life. Business Insider reports that a Florida State University study of elite performers found that “uninterrupted practice in intervals of 90 minutes or less, with breaks in between sessions, worked best for maximizing productivity.” Schedule time blocks for your career, family, and yourself on your daily calendar. The amount for each will vary depending on your priorities for the week. If something goes awry, adjust your blocks, and don’t ever give up on them. Quality time means more than quantity.
Mind Your Words
Post these words where you will see them every day; I get to…, I want to…, I am grateful for…, and I am enough. Changing your inner dialogue changes how you feel about your life. The better you feel, the less likely guilt will creep into your day.
Cultivate A Community
You don’t have to do it all. Turn to your partner (if you have one), your kids, other kids’ parents, co-workers, etc. Establish a community outlook. Offer to help your co-worker proofread important emails, drive a kid’s friend to an activity, or pick up dinner for your family. In turn, don’t be afraid to ask when you want the same.
Most importantly, know that you are doing great! Keep focused on your own journey and shut out perceived society and corporate expectations. According to Psychology Today, “more than 10% of daily thoughts involve making a comparison of some kind.” Stay in your own life for a while. Comparison is the thief of joy; protect your joy.