(Inside: How do you overcome working mom guilt? How do full-time moms cope with working? How do I stop being guilty about being a full-time working mom? Read on…)
I lingered a few feet outside the main doors of the gym where my son was playing in his final weekend basketball tournament. Phone to my ear, I discussed work with my colleague.
When I hung up, guilt washed over me – my coworker was drowning in work, and right then, I felt like I should’ve been more helpful to her. That thought had barely passed when another wave of guilt scolded me for letting work stress interrupt my family weekend away.
Being a working mom is hard.
(So is being a stay-at-home-mom, which I’ve also done. Thankfully that working/stay-at-home-mom debate seems to be over: we’ve landed on the “which is harder” answer of BOTH.)
Right now, in this life stage, I am called to be a working mom – I love both roles. But I hate the “shortchange” feeling – when work gets busy, I feel like I can shortchange family, and when family gets busy, I shortchange work. All of it makes me feel guilty.
Full stop right there.
I don’t think the God who says things like “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” and may you “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” created me to mother these beautiful children to feel guilty about it. Or that he put a beating on my heart that I should also be teaching high school, so loudly that I just had to go back in the classroom so I could feel guilty about it.
That’s not in His character.
So, when the working mom guilt rages higher than the Texas heat, I surround my negative thoughts with truths. This is what helps the guilt fade and me to better enjoy working mom life:Working mom guilt is FOR REALZ. But so are these 7 ways to get over the working mom guilt and get the most out of working mom life. #workingmom #momlife #motherhood Click To Tweet
1. Be fully present where you are.
We’ve thought through how much of our day we can give to work, and how much we can give to home life. So, when we’re at home, we can be fully at home. When we’re at work, we can be fully at work. We offer each place the best of ourselves while we’re there. We’ve pre-set the balance, so we can trust our own planning. To be a good employee, we don’t need to work until we burn out. Instead, it’s so much healthier to fully enjoy home life and come back to work refreshed.
2. Examine what’s most important to your family and make it happen.
My family values quality time. Even if my day is slammed, if we’ve had time to talk as a family, I feel good. So, we eat dinner together, pray with each other before bed, have a check-in moment around the counter in the kitchen, watch a movie, or play a round of Pictionary. We intentionally create moments, even if they are short, that promote sharing. It isn’t perfect, but those connection moments fill my heart up and carry me through the busy. How can you prioritize the things that gel your family together?
3. Reduce commitments.
If you don’t, you will crash. I promise you, it happened to me. Break the news: Sorry, I can’t commit. People will get over it. And don’t sign your kids up for everything. Look at your calendar and create margin. Your sanity will thank you.
4. When you don’t have time, collect moments.
Sometimes busy is best; everyone is involved in beloved activities and the schedule is held together by a thread. At those times, collect moments. Watch in slow motion as your son walks into practice. Linger in that hug with your daughter. Pause in your day and collect the blessing of the moment. It’ll fill your heart in ways you didn’t expect.
5. When your kids are communicating, stop and listen.
Look up from the phone, quit chopping the vegetables, turn off the vacuum. The to-do list will always be there, your kids won’t. And know they always feel the need to unload their hearts at the most inconvenient times. Roll with the waves on this one.
6. Take time off from work.
I remember stressing about the number of sick days I used. A wiser coworker said, “That’s what they’re for. You have kids. They need you. Take more days if you must.” We get time off for a reason. Use it. The truth is that we are replaceable in every area of our life, except in being a mom. Our family needs us more than anyone else. If we take the time off, the world will keep spinning. Life is happening right now, not tomorrow – live that way.
7. Be kind to yourself.
We are our toughest critics, but we deserve the same grace we give other people. I love the idea of looking at a picture of yourself as kid, and asking yourself what you’d say to her. I find all my negative self-talk stilling, and myself being gentle to that little girl in the picture. Because, truly, we need to be kind to ourselves. We need to take time for ourselves to refuel and gain inspiration. Our households and workplace benefit from it.
As I took my seat at the basketball game, I reminded myself: now is family time.
I hushed the guilt for abandoning my coworker. Instead, I focused on cheering from the sidelines. And I felt motherhood be the sacred role that it is. When I walk into work on Monday, I’ll be ready to give my all there, too
Read more in the “let go of the working mom guilt and thrive in working mom life” series…
I went to college to get my high school teaching degree. I planned to work for a few years, then stay home with babies. My mind was made up.
Except, I didn’t factor in one thing…
I loved my career.
Furthermore, at my workplace, there were so many working moms that daily showed me how to be great at both your job and motherhood. So, after taking six years off to be home with my kids and fulfill that dream, I chose to go back to work.
I love being a working mom and I want to imperfectly thrive in it – I know you to thrive too. Be encouraged through this series on being a working mom.
Thrive as a Working Mom Series
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.