If you’re a Mum, you’re probably either feeling guilty for being at work, or guilty for being at home. And if you’re part-time, you worry that you’re not doing either at full capacity. Mum Guilt plagues you, consumes you and can very easily overwhelm you.
Am I being a good role model by staying at home with my child?
Is my child missing out on valuable time with me while I’m at work?
Am I missing precious memories while I’m working?
Argh! It doesn’t matter what you do, every kind of Mum I’ve met gets it.
We have guilt for a reason – to show us when we’ve done something wrong and keep our moral compass in check. It’s protective and natural, and not a bad thing. But, the only positive I can see for mum guilt is to remind us that we care – but we know that anyway!
Sarah Turner, The Unmumsy Mum, says:
“Guilt is a key theme and probably why the blog has resonated with so many mums. I get a lot of messages from people saying ‘oh thank god, it’s not just me, I’m not on my own. So many of the messages when somebody says, “I’m not good enough, I wish I could be more like this”, stem from a decision about work.”
One of the things that I do to manage Mum Guilt is write down all the reasons I’m a good Mum. My last list included things like …
I think about my daughter 97% of the time.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time organising Elsa to attend her birthday party (if you know, you know!)
All of the play dates I arrange
Cooking her favourite tea
Knowing where her tickliest tickly spot is
Try it now. What would be on your list? I guarantee you’re not the terrible person your Mum Guilt would have you believe you are.
If you’re doing a job you love so that you and your child can have the life you want, try it. You will have given the decision to go back to work loads of thought before actually doing it. Agonised over it probably. Now you’ve made the decision and you’re actually doing it. So, beating yourself up makes no sense at all. It’s a waste of your energy and head space which could be spent on much more positive things.
If you are filled with joy spending your days with your child at the park, and play groups, but can’t help comparing yourself with working mums, try it. YOU know what’s best for you and your child, what makes you both happy. Forcing yourself to do the opposite of what your gut is telling you – what’s the point?
The fact that you're giving your Mum Guilt the time of day proves that you really care. That’s the important thing. You just need to strike a balance between caring and keeping perspective.
Try to be rational about it. Is anyone going to be hurt if you aren’t home at 5pm on the dot and your child is watching a little TV? If they're comforted by their childminder when they fall over, is this going to have detrimental effect on your child? Are they going to think you’re a useless Mum if you they don’t see you suited and booted for work every morning? No.
As Mums, none of us are perfect, and there is no single right way. And when Mum Guilt pops up, embrace it – because it shows you care and reminds you how much you love your child, and then move on.
If Mum Guilt is really getting in the way of what you want to do, and you feel totally overwhelmed, get in touch. I can help you reason with it and manage it.