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Putting Them First: How Working Moms Can Cope with Their Guilt

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Ask any working mom what the worst part about balancing work and children is and they’ll tell you it’s not the stress. It’s not the hectic schedules. It’s not the exhaustion. It’s the guilt.

More than anything, working moms feel absolutely torn apart over the fact that they have to leave their children behind to earn a living. As many as 87% of mothers feel guilty about their parenting abilities at one point or another. For working mothers, that guilt is compounded. Not only do we feel like we don’t measure up to the demands of motherhood, but we’re also away from our children for a large chunk of the day.

working moms coping with the guilt

Feeling these thoughts is actually, in a way, a positive thing. If you didn’t, it would mean you didn’t care. That’s a bit of silver lining for you. Even better – you don’t have to let your guilt consume your every waking moment. Below are some suggestions to help you overcome your guilt while you ensure that your children get all the love and attention they deserve.

Come to Terms with the Fact That You Can’t Do it All

First and foremost, you need to understand that you can’t do it all, though we try so hard to. There’s an unbelievable amount of pressure on mothers to:

  • Raise children
  • Be a devoted wife/partner
  • Keep a clean, organized home
  • Grow a stable career
  • Maintain a wide social circle
  • Enrich their community through volunteer work
  • Care for their parents in their old age

That’s quite a bit, isn’t it? Here’s the thing: sooner or later, something is going to have to give. That’s okay. Life isn’t always supposed to be a checklist of tasks to get done. You need to be willing to draw a hard line in the sand and say, “This is what matters to me. The rest is someone else’s problem.”

Understand that Your Children Feel Happiness with Others

We as mothers feel like there’s no one else in the world who can love, understand, appreciate, and care for our children as we can. To an extent, that’s true. But ask yourself this – how hard is it, really, to change a dirty diaper? How hard is it to read a story to them? How hard is it to prepare a healthy meal? Does it really matter who is doing all of the above so long as they get done? The point I’m driving at is that you might think you have to be the one to do all of these things, but really, you don’t.

So Long as They’re Cared For, it Doesn’t Matter if It’s You Doing It

Children love and appreciate their mothers. That’s a hard fact. But they love others as well, like their fathers, their grandparents, and their friends. The most important thing is that your child feels continuous love and gets the right amount of care from whomever they’re around. If you’re a working mom, you can ensure your children get that level of support by hiring a professional nanny. These experienced professionals know exactly how to care for your child, will come to love your child nearly as much as you do, and are more affordable than you might think.

Realize That Your Wellbeing is Your Child’s Wellbeing

When you’re upset, children know. I don’t think we give children enough credit for being perceptive, but they are. When someone is upset, angry, or depressed, children can instantly detect that something is wrong, even if they can’t understand what or why that is. If you’re constantly exuding guilt, your children will pick up on that. That can upset them, or worse, potentially make them feel guilty too.

Taking Care of Yourself is Part of Taking Care of Children

The only way you can give your child the care and support they need is if you’re in a healthy position yourself. Motherhood should be a joy, not a checklist of essentials. If you’re so exhausted, discouraged, and guilt-ridden that you’re just going through the motions of parenting, your children won’t get everything they need.

In short – take care of your own needs too. Pass your children off to your parents and go on a date with your spouse/partner. Enjoy chatting with coworkers about your favorite TV shows. Treat yourself to a day at the spa now and then. Too often, we don’t acknowledge that being a little selfish now and then is essential to good parenting. When you feel your best, you do your best for your children. And your best is what they deserve.

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