That painful twinge that you feel when you drop your child off at daycare, that feeling you get when you are rushing everyone to get dressed, and are hopping down the hallway with one shoe on, or running from the boardroom, to the gymnasium… it’s called working mom’s guilt!
Working mothers—first things first, you are doing an amazing job! No, this is not a debate blog for or against working mothers. I am simply talking to you today about something that has plagued me, and upon doing my research for this blog I realized, I was not alone.
Working mom guilt is a very real issue, and whether you are a single mom, or a married mom, and working, it is there—a sadness that plagues us for not being at home waiting for our children with fresh baked cookies and a glass of milk.
We may have the June Cleaver mother and family in the back of our minds to compare ourselves to as mothers. That is not realistic in the times we live in. We are in a world where it requires two incomes, or in my case, I had to work because I was raising Olivia as a single mom. And to be honest, I worked 12 hour days while I was pregnant with her so, I was a workaholic from an early age. As I stated in my other blogs Olivia’s father and I separated when she was very young, so me working and her and I being together without her father was normal. She never knew what I was like to have a stay-at-home mommy. She spent the first year of her life in our home with my ex- sister-in-law tending to her while we worked and she was in college at night. It worked out well for us, she got some spending money, and we got the chance to work and know Olivia was with family.
We are not losing out because we work, we may need to work because we are single mom’s, or we work because we actually enjoy what we do and we are working to make a difference. Or as stated above, we work because that is what it takes today. Working mother’s are torn between giving everything to their job, or to their families. They are torn between the stigma of being a mother at work, and let alone being a single mother at work. Single mothers are looked down upon in certain fields and organizations, because of the potential for lost work days, or not being able to give the long hours that non-mothers and fathers can. But to me that is garbage, I have been a single mother for about 14 years, and I have been successful, but it is a harsh reality.
Look for organizations (if you can) in your field that have the certification from Working Mother magazine for work/life balance. I was very lucky to work for an amazing organization when Olivia was young that truly believed in work/ life balance. Now, that is not to say that Olivia and I did not spend many Saturdays in the office. Or that I worked many evenings, but when I needed a day off to be the class chaperone, or if I needed to be home with Olivia it was not an issue. Planning ahead is key, see some of the key points in my blog about scheduling.
I was fortunate enough to even work remotely a day a week, so on those days I set up my schedule to ensure that I could go to school and have lunch with Olivia. Those were important to me, my bosses knew I had a daughter and that I was a single mother living 500 miles away from her family. They appreciated the honesty, not everyone would appreciate it, and not everyone would be as fortunate to work for an organization like I did.
Daycare… now I have seen mixed opinions on daycare, Olivia went to day care and maybe we were just very lucky that she went to places that she enjoyed, but she also developed skills while at daycare. She learned how to be with other children which was especially important since she was an only child. She learned how to work out her differences with other children with adult supervision, she learned how to be independent, and what it feels to miss her mommy, and appreciate the time we have together at a young age. I loved going to daycare to pick her up after a long stressful day, because the moment I saw her, and she would see me, she would come running arms stretched out saying, “moooommmmy.” At that moment it was all worth it.
Looking back, do I wish that I could have been a stay-at-home mother, been with her every minute of every day, and given her the opportunity to be home schooled –yes, but, I do not have those skills in order to be a teacher for my daughter. Nor do I believe that I did anything wrong by showing my daughter what a strong, smart, determined, hardworking mother with unfailing work ethic looks like. Because as a result, my daughter is a strong, smart, determined young women. As I told her when she was young, and will continue to believe I am not raising a child, I am raising a women.
Again, this is not a blog post about the debate between the working mom and the stay-at-home mom, rather it is to discuss that the working mother, or any mother for that matter has guilt that she is missing events, not spending each minute of every day with her children, that she has to rush them around in the morning to get everyone out of the door, in order to get to work and daycare on time. Many former stay-at-home mothers do end up working later on when the children are in school even a part time job or a non-profit, or church charity is still work.
Do not be upset if you do enjoy the time that you have with other adults, or the adult discussions, or the spirited work debate with other adults. It is okay to be happy when you are not with your child, a happy mommy means a happy family too. Your work can bring you joys that you family maybe cannot, but at the same time, your family will bring joy that no work can bring. It is okay to be happy while at work, it is okay to get something from your work that you cannot get from being a mommy or being part of a family.
Another thing I would suggest if you are a working mom is to make your presence known at school, make sure that they know who you are, that you are rushing to work, that you are available to help if they need you. Be in contact with your children’s teachers, coaches, the ladies in the office etc… cause guess what—they are working parents too! They get it! There are more allies that you think you have for sure in the school and coaching arena.
Utilize other people in your life to fill in for you if you cannot attend one of your child’s events. As long as your child does not think you are coming, and then you are not there, that is damaging. If they know that you cannot make it to their game tomorrow, but that Grandpa will be there instead, that will be okay with them, and they may look at it like it is a treat, that Grandpa is at their game. Next, if you have to miss an event because of a work event, do not let that get you down, you are doing what you have to do in order to provide for your children.
If you need to work from home, there are companies that offer stay-at-home jobs. There are a lot of scams out there as well so be careful.
Be a writer or editor
Customer service representative
Bookkeeping & CPA services
Sell stuff you make on Etsy or Amazon
Check with your local church sometimes they have newsletters you can type at home
Check remote work websites that specialize in finding folks remote working positions
Alleviate working mom’s guilt:
When you are with your children, be there, and not still at work in your mind. You will be back at work before you know it. So, do not waste your time with the children. Come home, change your clothes and sit down with your child and ask about their day. Be there for them, even if you had the worst day ever, just sit down, and be there.
You are the mom your suppose to be:
Stop living up to a mindset of what a mother should be, and be the mom that your child needs. Your child is the one that will be the best litmus test on if you are doing a good job or not.
Find other working mom’s:
Do not listen to anyone who tells you that you are doing something wrong, or “I do not know how you can do it, I could never not be with my child 24/7.” You are doing nothing wrong and there are plenty of us mommies working that we can support each other, and you should find other working mommies to lean on. I found women in my company to lean on, and they me, when we needed each other we helped each other out. Picking up on a late day, watching each others kids for a Saturday the kids could not come to the office, babysitting for a date.
There is no right way to work and be a mom:
Do not fall into the Cleaver mentality, and believe that is how a mother is suppose to be, it was nice in that time and date, however, it is not probable in today’s society. You are still an excellent mom even if you have to work or want to work.
If you can’t be there…:
Your children love you, and they are adaptable to most situations. If you talk to them and let them know that you work to provide for them, they will understand more. Not that long ago children were not even being cared for by their own mothers, and there are still families in upper levels of society that the children are shipped off to boarding schools, or a nanny and never have time with their parents. So, you are doing well.
Getting help is okay too:
Get a nanny or help if you can afford it or need the help, but do not let the nanny become mommy.
Get a cleaning company to come in and clean the house for you once a month, each week or whatever you can afford, this will allow more time with your child, and not so much time cleaning. My mom said to me once that “deserved to have the cleaning people come in, it was my treat for working so hard.” At that time I was working, going to school, really involved in our church, and raising my precious Olivia. She was right, I did deserve it.
I hope this was helpful, and just know you are not alone, you are not a bad mommy, you are a gem in your child’s eyes, and sometimes we have to work to provide for them. We will chat in the budgeting blog about how to cut costs so that you do not have to work so many hours maybe in order to survive and provide.
Much love & respect,