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  • TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Written by Hillary Bennetts

    Conquering Working Mom Guilt: Embracing Career and Family Without Shame

    Conquering Working Mom Guilt: Embracing Career and Family Without Shame
    Estimated time to read 7 minutes

    In the complex tapestry of modern motherhood, the term "working mom" often carries with it a weighty companion—guilt. As if all moms aren’t “working moms!” The delicate balance between pursuing a fulfilling career and nurturing a thriving family can leave many mothers grappling with a profound sense of guilt. We know this well, our founders had their baby the same day our products launched! Integrating a hard but fulfilling career with the hard but fulfilling job of parenting has been a key part of our success. We wish that this wasn’t so hard but we know that it is so let's talk about it - why does it happen and what can we do to overcome it?

    Understanding the Roots of Working Mom Guilt

    For centuries, men worked outside the home while women stayed home to do the hard work of caring for the home and raising children. While it is wonderful that women have more opportunities now, many of the expectations of women at home have not changed, including the expectations that some women put on themselves. Women may want or need to work for a variety of reasons, but working mothers often feel guilty for the time that they aren't spending with their kids.

    How to Overcome Working Mom Guilt

    Guilt is a terrible feeling, and in the case of mom guilt, it simply isn't productive. As Alan Watts said, "No work or love will flourish out of guilt..." So we're sharing some tips to help you overcome working mom guilt.

    Embrace Your Identity as a Working Mom

    Being a mom is hard work for both working moms and stay-at-home moms, just in very different ways. Each has its tradeoffs, so embrace the benefits that you get by having a place to be yourself outside of your home life. You get to engage in an adult conversation outside the home and can take bathroom trips by yourself.

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    Embracing your identity will also help if you experience a person who makes you feel judged for working. This could be a subtle or an overt comment or behavior. Remind yourself why you are choosing to work or what you appreciate about being able to work. You might also choose to set boundaries so that you can control your exposure to anyone who makes you feel bad for being a working mom.

    Prioritize Self-Care

    This can be especially hard for working moms who already spend time away from their little ones to feel like they have enough time—how will taking time for yourself make moms feel less guilty? But taking a scheduled break to refuel your battery means that your family will get a healthier, happier mom. 

    It can be as simple as having your partner or a grandparent watch your kids for an hour a couple of days each week, so you can work out, watch your favorite tv show, or take a relaxing bath. For more ideas about ways to focus on yourself, visit our article about Self Care for Moms.

    Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

    The saying holds true— ”comparison is the thief of joy”. Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid comparison in a time when social media is full of seemingly spotless homes and perfect lives. The highlight reel that is social media can lead anyone to feel bad as they look around at their sink full of dishes and floor scattered with toys. 

    Sometimes the best way to change this is to unfollow anyone on social media that you tend to envy or compare yourself to, or who has content that triggers feelings of mom guilt. On some social media platforms, you even have the option to unfollow or mute someone without unfriending them (and they never even have to know). 

    Focus on Quality Time Over Quantity

    It probably feels like there is never enough time to get everything done at work and home, all while trying to spend the few waking hours you have with your little one. So rather than focusing on the amount of time you have with your little one, focus on the quality of the time that you do have.

    When you are with your child, focus on being fully present and giving them your full attention. That means putting your phone away and shifting your mind from unread emails and work drama. A simple tool for this is the “ten minutes in heaven”. Some studies show that just ten solid minutes spent with your child each day, doing whatever they want to do, dramatically increases their sense of fullness and connection. 

    At work, do your best to not worry about your child or children throughout the day. This is easier said than done, and it takes practice, but it will help you be effective at work and support the ultimate goal of work-life balance.

    Stop Negative Self-Talk

    We tend to speak to ourselves in a way that is far more critical than how we would talk to our friends. Bring awareness to the dialogue that goes on in your head and practice talking to yourself as you would talk to a friend so that you can break free from feeling guilty.

    You may also practice positive affirmations like, "I am a good mother." or "I am doing my best."

    It is also helpful to focus on the positive. If you had a rough day or were short-tempered or impatient with your kids (it happens to us all sometimes). Instead of focusing on all the ways you could have done better, end your day by picking out a few things you did well that day. 

    One great way to do this is by taking just a few minutes before bed to write down the best parts of your day in a daily journal. It can be as simple as your child loving what you made them for breakfast or loving how you did their hair. Over time, it will be easier to identify how much you do for your family and how great you really are—say goodbye to mommy guilt. 

    Accept Help

    As the saying goes, “It takes a village”. And while your village may look different than someone else’s, there is likely someone who would step in and help out if you ask, like a friend or neighbor. This might also mean being a little more open with your partner about what you need from them. If you are breastfeeding, visit our article on How dads can help nursing moms

    If getting free help isn't an option, hiring someone may be the best way to reduce your workload. This may mean outsourcing your laundry (many dry cleaners offer this service) or having someone come clean your house. These professionals can free up some of your time so you can be present both at home and at work. It might seem counterintuitive to work to make money, just to spend that money on childcare or household support, but remember it’s ok to work for your own fulfillment, and not just for the money! 

    Accepting help can also mean taking steps to simplify your day. This can free up some of your time to focus on more important things. Simplifying mealtime is a great way to make your evenings run a little smoother. Our pureed pouches are an easy, but incredibly nutritious meal option for little ones. They’re also a great way to add nutrients to an older child’s diet. For more on how to include them in recipes as your child gets older, check out our article on Alternate ways of eating baby food

    Asking for help also may come in the form of talking to a mental health professional who can help you understand and deal with any feelings of guilt or shame. In situations where there may be more going on than just feelings of mom guilt, they can evaluate you for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, which also may be contributing to some of these feelings of being a bad mom.

    Establish Clear Work-Life Boundaries

    It's easy for work to creep in at home, and home to creep in at work - especially when you work from home. This can add additional stress and feelings of guilt, as you constantly feel like you "should" be paying more attention to whatever is not getting your attention at the moment.

    Establish clear boundaries around work and home time so that you can be fully focused on whatever is your priority at the moment. This might mean that your phone goes away from 5pm until bedtime every night, or that you turn off non-urgent photo notifications from your child's daycare while at work to avoid distractions. Though it can be uncomfortable, having frank conversations with your boss and coworkers about these boundaries can help manage their expectations, and you might be surprised at how supportive they actually are. 

    Communicate Openly with Your Partner About Responsibilities

    Communication is key to so many things, including balancing a family and a career. If you have a partner, set aside time each week to determine responsibilities. Keep the perspective that you are on the same team, both working to support your family in different ways. Setting clear expectations with each other will help to decrease stress throughout the week while also minimizing feelings of resentment. For example, you might discuss:

    1. Who is doing pick-up and drop-off each day?
    2. Who will make dinner each night?
    3. Do either of you have any important deadlines or big events at work that week that might require some additional support from the other partner?
    4. Who will wake up with your child in the middle of the night?
    5. How will you determine who stays home when your child is sick?

    We are big fans of the Fair Play method of household management that can be a real game changer for couples and create a more balanced workload in the home. Not just for moms to reduce the mental load and physical toll of household labor, but for dads to really understand what full participation looks like and benefit from a happier wife! 

    Breaking Free from Societal Expectations

    Mom guilt can stem from a woman feeling like she is not fitting into societal expectations. It is an unfair truth that these expectations are often unrealistic for the modern woman and modern family. According to Pew Research, the public has very different views about what society values most in men and what it values in women. While many say that society values honesty, morality, and professional success in men, the top qualities for women are physical attractiveness and being nurturing and empathetic.

    The more you can ignore these or any other expectations you feel, the better able you will be to overcome working mom guilt. Take a step back and define what success looks like for you, then embrace and celebrate your own unique journey.

    Takeaway

    Being a working mom can be tremendously fulfilling both personally and professionally. Rather than let mom guilt take over, try to build a supportive network of working parents, embrace your journey, and release unnecessary guilt. Whatever path you choose, you're a great mom!

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