(Inside: Are you a mom going back to work? Do you have anxiety about going back to work after being a stay-at home mom? It’s going to work out! Read on…)
I am going back to work for the first time in six years.
I can’t even believe the full house I was dealt – I’ve landed my dream part-time job. Even so…
I have all the big emotions: guilt, excitement, panic, motivation, guilt, fear, joyful anticipation…and did I say guilt?
I’ve loved being home with my three boys. Gosh, I’ve loved it. It’s been a life-changing experience full of self-realization, learning, and an immeasurable amount of love. (And sleepless nights and long days, but mostly good, good things.)
But, still – I feel guilty about going back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for so long.
My youngest son will go to daycare. What if he hates it? What if not taking care of him during the day makes me the worst mom ever? How come there aren’t infinite hours in the day? Or why can’t we all be in two places at once? And mostly, how come every decision comes with a sacrifice, and why do I always feel guilty about what I’m missing out on?
I know I’m not alone in this – most women have entertained a version of those thoughts. Guilty if we do, guilty if we don’t. There’s a part of us that longs to do all things well and never miss out on anything – kids or careers.
But for me, as a mom going back to work, the truth is: even though I will miss parts of staying home, I am genuinely excited about being back in my career. For dumb things like ‘I get to wear cute career clothes!’ and great reasons like I’m passionate about my job. (Then there’s the paycheck – the sweet, sweet paycheck.)
However, even though I’m excited to return to work, the mom-guilt still lingers.
How do you get over the mom-guilt of going back to work?
I wish I could tell you in three easy steps we’d never experience mom-guilt again, but I can’t. Mom-guilt seems to be a normal, recurring part of this motherhood journey.
But a pastor-turned-therapist told me something that’s helped squash the guilt: our feelings are actually products of what we choose to focus on and think about. This means we can have more control over our big feelings about going back to work than we think. It looks like this:
What you put into your brain, choose to focus on and think about >> shapes those swirling everyday thoughts that are happening unconsciously all the time >> shape your emotions.
Moms, if you’re going back to work and experiencing all the big feelings like me – let me tell you this: Letting your emotions get the best of you won’t change the situation – it will only cause you more pain. And – spoiler alert – being a working mom is going to work out.
So, we choose not to focus the mom guilt; instead, we set our thoughts on why we’re going back to work – the good, exciting reasons.
Why I knew going back to work is going to work out for my family
So, I made a decision, the guilt might creep into my brain, but I won’t let it stay. No way. Instead, I’ll focus on why restarting my career is going to work for my family:
- My husband and I have talked and prayed about this for years. We feel it’s the best decision for our family.
- My part-time job and daycare worked out so eloquently that I can only attribute it to God’s hand.
- My three-year-old loved his “trial run” for daycare that he called “school.” He proudly sported his backpack and told his brothers they couldn’t come. When I picked him up, he was pulling dinosaurs out of a buck roaring happily with his tiny new friends.
- God has a unique plan for my life. (That means it’s supposed to look different from other people’s lives.) So enough with the comparisons.
- God gave me gifts and abilities and I can be joyful about using them.
Why I know it’s going back to work is going to work out for YOUR family.
Momma, going back to work is going to work out for your family too and here’s why:
- You are a smart person – you’ve carefully considered all your options before deciding your path. If you landed on being a working mom is what’s best for your family – trust it’s a good thing. The grass isn’t necessarily greener on the stay-at-home-mom side. Look forward, not back.
- You will be able to manage it all, and if it becomes too much – you will problem solve. Successfully.
- Your kids will be just fine in daycare. Find a great daycare and the provider and other little friends there will become like family.
- Someone has probably been hoping and maybe even praying for a good person to fill the role you’re about to take. You will make a positive impact in your new position.
- If you later regret your decision – guess what, you can change it and go in a different direction.
How can I say that you will thrive in working mom life with such confidence?
Because I’m right now revising this post from 5 years ago. I’m still a working mom and it’s been not perfect, but great. Also, I’m surrounded by thriving, ah-maze-ing moms who… WORK!
You will thrive too. And your family will be proud of you. I recently saw my son, chest slightly puffed out say to his 5th-grade friend, “My mom teaches HIGH SCHOOL!” Be still, my heart.
“I hear you, but I really, really don’t want to go back to work.” How do I get excited about it?
This might seem dumb, but it worked – so I’m sharing.
The story at the start of this post about going back to work after six years of being off was actually the second time I “went back to work.” Here’s how my working mom life unfolded: I had my first son, went “back to work” after my maternity leave, had my second son, took six years off (in that time had my third son), then went “back to work” for the second time.
After my oldest was born, I did not want to go back to teaching at all. Not even a little bit. So, my mother-in-law and husband went shopping and surprised me with the cutest work clothes.
Through this simple gesture, hope and excitement sparked in my heart.
Similarly, what could you plan or buy or focus on to get you excited about going back to work?
There are so many benefits to being a working mom, mainly, hopefully, you’ll have some extra cash, even if it’s just a little. So, what are you going to do with some of your hard-earned income? Maybe one of these ideas…
Plan a “new routine” that’s fun
For example, we created Friday Fun days. I’d pick my older two up from elementary school, then my youngest up from daycare, and go straight to pick up a pizza. I’d then run through and get a decaf Starbucks. (A huge treat for me!) Then, we’d go home, eat, watch movies, and play video games. I didn’t allow screens Monday through Thursday, so Friday felt like fireworks. And I could crash after a long week.
Book that vacation.
Where do you want to go, the place you previously couldn’t afford? Toes in the warm sand, beautiful mountaintop views, the healing ripple of waves, cute downtown boutiques, the bright lights of New York – plan that trip you’ve been wanting to take.
Shop for the trendy working clothes
High heels, sleek dresses, big earrings, wedged sandals, trendy pants, beautiful shirts – shed those yoga pants and go shop! Enjoy treating yourself with the clothes you love.
Focus on all the benefits of going back to work, let that shape your everyday swirling thoughts, then let that shape your emotions.
Can you feel it?
Yes, now you’re there. It’s all going to be fine. And you’re going to rock this working mom thing.
Read the full 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
To the Mom Going Back to Work After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom
7 Ways to Thrive as a Working Mom (Let go of the guilt!)
Be a More Organized Mom: How to Care for Your Heart and Your Home
Working Mom Planner – Keep Track of ALL THE THINGS in style
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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.