How to Deal with Working Mom Guilt
Working mom guilt is more common than most women think. Many women returning to work after having a baby may find themselves feeling torn about leaving their babies home or with childcare after just a few months.
As a full time working mom, it’s a feeling that has never really left me. Although I knew it was the right choice for me and my family, I really struggled putting both of my children in daycare. It was a combination of fear (What if something happens to them??), guilt (I’m abandoning my child!), and just plain ol’ missing them throughout the workday.
Over time, that feeling decreases. Never really went away for me, but I realized that my children are learning and socializing in daycare without me, and we still get to spend quality time after school and on weekends. I get to miss them while focusing on using my skills and my mind for something else for a few hours a day.
While working mom guilt is completely normal to experience, there are some things you can do to alleviate that mom guilt and put your mind at ease. Keep reading to learn more about how to overcome that nagging mom guilt.
And don’t forget to grab your FREE guide on How to Plan a Stress-Free Week without Burnout, which includes my top hacks and an editable weekly planner to help busy, working moms achieve a calmer, more productive week!
What is working mom guilt?
Working mother’s guilt is the guilt many mothers feel over working a full-time or part-time job away from their children. As in my example, the guilt can stem from many different reasons such as:
- Lack of trust of other caregivers.
- Fearing that something will happen to your baby.
- Fearing that your breast milk supply will decrease.
- Worrying that leaving your child will have a negative impact on your bond and/or their development.
- Worrying that your child will have emotional problems.
- Missing your child’s milestones.
While working mom guilt is common, it tends to be most intense in mothers who are returning to work after maternity leave.
Why is overcoming working mom guilt important?
Working mom guilt can have some side-effects that can also bleed into your work, including:
- Lack of productivity and inability to focus
- Anxiety and stress
- Irritability with your co-workers.
Ultimately, the inner turmoil you feel over working and being separated from your children may even affect your job performance.
And for some moms, they leave their jobs and careers altogether to return home and become a stay-at-home mom. I’m sure for a lot of these families, that may be the best decision for them. However, for those that need or want to work, tackling mom guilt head-on will be the best way to relieve this internal conflict.
Tips for Dealing with Working Mom Guilt
Here are some ways that you can manage working mom guilt:
1. Re-shift your mindset
The first step to combat mom guilt is to re-shift your mindset to focus on the positives, instead of the negatives, that come from you working. For me, it helped to write the positives down so that I could frequently remind myself of my WHYs for working.
Some things you could add to your own list of benefits:
- Working allows you to earn money to be able to provide the necessities and a comfortable living for your family.
- Your child has the opportunity to attend a great daycare where she is socializing with friends and learning practical skills.
- You get to have a “break” from motherhood, so you can focus on challenging work and have conversations with other adults.
- You are serving as a good role model for your children, by having them get used to seeing women having their own successful careers.
Changing your mindset may take a lot of work and practice. But taking the time to take some deep breaths and remind yourself of the benefits of working for your family may slowly start to sink in and change your attitude. Remember, working does not make you a bad mom. If anything, for all the reasons listed above, working can make you a better mother.
For a quick pick-me-up and inspiration, check out 24 Inspirational Quotes for Working Moms Who Are Overwhelmed.
2. Get organized and create routines
Something that can increase working mom guilt is disorganization and chaos in your day.
I recall the first month of returning to work, my mornings were chaotic and I felt like I was always rushing to get my baby ready for daycare and still get to work on time. I would also forget events that were happening at her daycare, such as Picture Day. It seemed I couldn’t get anything right and that only made those feelings of guilt feel worse.
The best thing I did was create routines and schedules to improve my mornings and evenings with my kids. If my morning was limited with them, I didn’t want to spend most of that time stressed out. I’d pack their daycare bags at night, meal prep breakfast, and ensured everyone went to bed early. It was also nice to have predictable routines with my kids, such as a bedtime routine, that was our special “bonding” time together.
For tips on creating a family schedule to reduce stressful mornings and better organize your day, see 7 Secrets to Creating a Family Schedule- That You’ll Actually Stick To!
3. Set fixed check-ins throughout the day
If you find yourself spending most of the work day worrying about what your baby is up to, or get easily distracted by checking in too often on your child, it may be a good idea to set fixed check-in times during the day with your baby’s caregiver.
For example, you could set a limit of no more than 2 check-ins per day, 1 during your lunch hour and another during your coffee break, to quickly see how your baby is doing. You can communicate these check-in times with the caregiver so that they are aware to save any news or cute baby photos for those fixed times (with exceptions for emergencies of course).
Since I have my children in a daycare, almost all communication and updates take place in an app (Brightwheel). I use my check-in times to look through the app updates and photos of each child, and respond to any messages that I received from their teacher.
Fixed check-in times will give you the space to focus on your work the rest of the day since you can anticipate exactly when you’ll check in on your baby. It may also have the added benefit of building trust with your caregiver. Too many frequent check-ins with your caregiver can make them feel like you don’t trust them or don’t think they are doing a good job.
4. Connect with other working moms
You will find a lot of strength and support when you connect with other working mothers who are going through the same experience as you. Many of my friends are also working moms, and I find a lot of comfort knowing that I’m not alone in this struggle and that we can exchange words of encouragement.
If you don’t have other working mom friends or are more of an introvert, a great place to connect with working moms is on social media. For example, there are local mom groups on Facebook you can join or Instagram accounts you can follow where you can hear about other working moms’ struggles and their tips for overcoming mom guilt.
Some Instagram accounts of badass working moms I love to follow are:
Check them out, you may just find that a little inspiration and camaraderie is what you needed to reduce some of that working mom guilt.
5. Focus on quality time, not quantity
Instead of focusing on how much time you’re not spending with your children, make the best out of the time you do spend together. That means when you get home, reduce screen time and focus on quality family time. Put the cell phone and laptop away, and have dinner with your kids without distractions.
If you have a baby, make the most out of bedtime. Read books to your little one, sing lullabies, and give him a nice bath. These small moments where you’re spending time together can strengthen your bond even if you’re away all day.
6. Practice self-care regularly
It may not seem intuitive to worry about yourself and your own needs when you’re feeling guilty over working, but self-care may be exactly what you need to improve your mental health. You spend most of your day juggling full-time job responsibilities and household chores, as well as tending to your children. So you might be running on fumes and feeling pretty miserable.
Take some time to de-stress by engaging in some self-care. Get a massage, get your nails done, go to the gym- whatever you feel you need to recharge. You’ll be refreshed and your mind will be in a much better place when you return home to your family. At the end of the day, you will still be a good mom even if you take a few hours to put yourself first.
Last Word on Working Mom Guilt
Experiencing working mommy guilt is not a pleasant feeling and one that may take hard work to get rid of. There will be great days and there will be bad days. Ultimately, by doing things daily that help you improve your outlook, such as connecting with other working moms and engaging in self-care, you can learn to appreciate the time you spend with your kids and feel less guilty about working.
Remind yourself that as a career mom, you’re setting a great example for your children and it will be something that they’ll appreciate in the long run.
And if you’re looking for a different type of job that will allow you the flexibility to spend more time with your children, check out these legitimate options in 21 Best Flexible Jobs for Working Moms in 2021.
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Hi I’m Yesenia,
a working mom of two kids. I’ve experienced all of the beautiful and crazy moments of early parenthood: breastfeeding, picky eaters, toilet training, balancing work with kids, and the list continues!
I created Hard Knock Mama to help working moms navigate through their child’s early years and find a successful balance in their home, work, and life.
Lovely post. I think this is an issue most of us mums face. Some lovely tips here. Thank you
Yes, I agree many working moms are in the same boat. Thanks for your comment!
This is so insightful! Need to share it with my working mom friends.
Appreciate the feedback, thanks for sharing!
I believe there is no perfect mom anywhere. The primary objective is make sure to do all the mom’s duties and love on your kids, and everyone is happy!
100% agree, we’re all just doing our best!
Thanks for the information this is a must read especially for first time moms!
Yes, I definitely had first time moms in mind! Thanks for your message!
This is a great post! Working moms feel pulled in different directions, but as you mentioned, working moms set an excellent example for their kids.
Thanks for sharing!
Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for the feedback!
As a working mom, I could completely relate to this post. You have given some valuable advice! Women are made to feel guilty for wanting/needing to work. I am blessed to work from home and still see my kids all day, but that wasn’t always the case. No matter how long I worked, I still felt guilty for leaving my kids. However, I have always made certain to make every moment count when I was with them with weekly traditions and holiday traditions.