With the exception of the first seven or so months of my oldest child’s life, I’ve always been a working mum – that is, a mum who worked for a pay cheque. (Motherhood is work, obviously. And bloody hard too.) I’ve worked from home, from an office, part-time, full-time, after-hours, before-hours, on weekends – pretty much whenever I had childcare available, and sometimes when I didn’t. And heck yeah, I’ve experienced my share of working mum guilt.
I love my kids, wouldn’t trade ’em for the world, but I also love to go to work. Of course, if the option to be filthy rich and sit at home all day binge-watching TV series and eating unlimited ice cream presented itself, I would definitely take it. I’m not silly. But I guarantee that by about the second month I’d be bored. And I would have to go back to work. And back to guilt, undoubtedly.
Because the working mum guilt is the part of working which I absolutely loathe. It’s the little voice inside me that says, “Did I pay enough attention to Miss 10 in the car this morning before I dropped her at school, or was I too preoccupied with thinking about the presentation I have to give later on today?” It’s the desperation in my voice when I keep having to turn down a friend who wants to meet me for coffee on days when I’m in the office. It’s the mixed bag of amusement and annoyance I feel at the relative who says that SHE never put her kids into daycare because she didn’t want strangers raising them. (Shout out to my son’s awesome preschool, who treats us like family and where I’d like to go hang out and play in the sandpit too.)
How to get rid of the working mum guilt? I’m still working that out. I will tell you what doesn’t work:
- Buying the kids expensive things to try to assuage the guilt
- Running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to do it all
- Apologising for liking my work
- Skipping the meagre me-time I get in order to try to keep everyone else happy
- Packing the weekends full of activities I can’t do during the week so I never get any down-time
- Pretending there aren’t nights when I just give up and take the kids for sushi instead of cooking
- Thinking I will ever get on top of the laundry. It will never happen. NEVER.
Working mums, do you feel guilty? How do you deal with it? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your insights – maybe we can come up with some ideas together.
Have a great week.