This post is for all you amazing moms who are managing work, family, and life – yet still struggling with working mom guilt.
Because I get it. I know that sinking feeling that some how you’re not good enough or not doing things right.
It can be triggered at school drop-off, when chatting with your in-laws, or by a chance remark made by one of your kids.
“Mom, why are you always on your laptop?”
“Mom, stop looking at your cell phone.”
“Mom, you never listen to me.”
As moms, we’re wired for guilt. We punish yourselves over the smallest things. We all have our own guilt buttons. It might be, when we…
… let our kids eat sugary snacks;
… allow them too much screen time;
… don’t give them enough sleep or rest time;
… spend time on ourselves;
… spend “too much” time working.
This last one is a biggy. Working mom guilt can be crippling – I experience it and so do my working friends and clients.
It doesn’t matter how many hours you dedicate to play time. Or that you take your kids on fun outings. Or that you cuddle with them every night and read them a story.
You still feel like you’re not doing enough.
Sure – you understand the bad feelings are self-inflicted. You recognize the problem is in your head. But knowing this isn’t enough to stop the guilt.
Can you relate to any of this?
If so, keep reading. Because not so long ago I banished working mom guilt from my life.
(Okay it still comes back from time to time…. but not nearly as frequently as it used to).
Here’s how I did it…
How To Get Rid Of Working Mom Guilt
The solution is surprisingly simple.
I created a boundary between work time and family time.
You may have heard talk of boundaries. Maybe you already have some in your life.
But for the sake of clarity, here’s what a boundary isn’t. A boundary isn’t…
… an excuse for doing what you want;
… a limit you set on other people;
… walls or rules for excluding others;
… a way to fix or control other people;
… a means to punish wrong behavior.
Healthy boundaries are not a way to control others, but to control what others can do to you.
Personal boundaries free you from guilt and people-pleasing. They provide clarity for you and those you love.
“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”
― Brené Brown, Rising Strong
Okay, now we’ve cleared that up. Here’s how my boundary looks…
By 3pm each day I put my laptop away and don’t open it again until the next day. Basically, from 3pm until I fall asleep is dedicated to family.
This simple rule has:
- Created certainty in my kids’ lives. My kids know that from 3pm, mommy is fully available to them (no more sneaking onto the computer to check email or write a quick article).
- Created certainty in my life. When I’m working I don’t feel guilty because I know that from 3pm I’ll be devoting myself to family.
- Helped me remain present when I’m with family. No more day dreaming about work or other stuff. By allowing myself time to do the work I love, I find it easier to keep my mind focused on kid stuff when I’m with them.
Okay, I still struggle with #3. Being present is tough. My daughter is better at losing herself in the moment than I am. Its one of the five things she’s still teaching me.
My mind has a habit of wandering. Staying in the moment is a whole other topic and something I’ll write more about… once I finally master the art myself!
Despite this, my boundary has created significant change in my life. Working mom guilt is gone.
How To Create Boundaries In Your Life
If you want to create boundaries in your life, here’s a step-by-step process:
- Define your boundary. First, think about where you need a boundary. For example, if you work at an office, do you need to leave the office at a set time each day? Do you need to dedicate an hour each week to self-care (something we moms are bad at doing)? Decide on what boundary will eliminate the biggest source of conflict or guilt in your life.
- Communicate your boundary. Next, set expectations by telling the people who are impacted by your boundary. I shared my commitment to stop work after 3pm with my kids and husband.
- Stick to your boundary. Last, create systems to help you observe the boundary each day. For example, I lock my laptop in our office. This reduces temptation – out of sight is out of mind. I also created a daily chart and had my daughter give me a check mark each day I kept the boundary. My six-year old loved keeping an eye on me and giving me my check mark! Plus, I didn’t want to let her down, which meant I was even more likely to follow through.
This one small change has had an amazing impact on my life.
I enjoy both work and family time more. The absence of guilt is liberating. And I feel more confident in my role as a work-at-home mom.
Ready To Eliminate Working Mom Guilt?
What do you think? Could this strategy help you?
I urge you to give it a try.
And in case you need further motivation to take care of your needs. Think about this. A 2015 study found that the amount of time spent with kids “does not matter”.
Melissa Milkie, who co-authored the study, told one reporter:
“In an ideal world, this study would alleviate parents’ guilt about the amount of time they spend, and show instead what’s really important for kids.”
Remember… you’re not alone. We all struggle with guilt, shame, or feelings of not being good enough. But we can overcome these feelings.
You ARE good enough and I believe in you!
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