Ease the Pressure – Working Mum Guilt
This the last in my series of “Ease the pressure…” I hope you enjoyed them.
After putting the kids to bed the other night and having a surprisingly easy bedtime routine that night, with no tantrums etc…I started thinking about my reason for working and why I don’t feel working mum guilt anymore, especially as the kids have gotten older. I have posted a video on this topic on YouTube, linked above. In the video I mention 5 areas that I believe have helped me manage (and now eliminate) working mum guilt.
I have laid out these points in a different order below than how they were presented in the video and will start with:
1. Happy mummy = Happy children
I am definitely a happy working mummy, I love the independence working brings to my life, it keeps my mind occupied – as I am a constant over thinker and need to strategise, plan and generally do something (although I am working on my need to always be thinking with meditation). l love the fact that I can get dressed up for work, put on my make up and do something different with my day, that doesn’t revolve around housework, children or my husband – I think you get the picture. I had always known that my career was going to remain in my life after kids – I had worked hard enough going to university, working in numerous roles and generally getting ahead pre-children and wasn’t going to give it up after.
I am fortunate to be in an industry and career path that offers flexibility, with work/life balance (although I do have anxieties around this from time to time). I know that I do not have to sacrifice too much of my family life (in terms of remaining at the office and working late into the evening and at weekends). I can generally work office hours and if further work needs to be done I can do it from home, once the children have gone to bed. I also have the opportunity to work from home one day a week, which saves my sanity in so many ways (I will do a post about working from home, soon). With this arrangement, my children see me every morning and evening before and after school, as well as enabling me to do one pick at 3:15pm a week.
If my working situation was different or I was in an industry that required more from me in terms of working long hours and on weekends, I may not be as happy to work full time and would definitely be working to change my situation.
2. Give yourself time to adjust
When you go back to work or start a new job etc, there is a period of adjustment for yourself as well as your family. Give yourself that time, you need it. I am about to start a new job, very soon and with that change of work environment I have anxieties around it (Read my post – career or family?…I want both!). All I can do is ride the feelings and give myself this time. My new learning with meditation is teaching me not to resist negative feelings and accept them, but don’t let them fester…just take that time to adjust!
3. Make time for your children
They know that I will be at home every night to sit with them at dinner and ask them about their day. They know that I will be there to read their story as I put them to bed. They know that mummy and daddy work, during the day while they go to school or at nursery. They know that they have to stay back at after school club on certain days and grandma picks them up on other days. To them this is a normal part of everyday life. They also know that on the weekends we are all together – we can hang out at home, plan activities together, go out with friends, see family.
I try to keep up with the school calendar and ensure that I have booked the important days off work or if I can’t make it then hubby or a grandparent can fill in. And for those days that no one can attend I do explain to my children that we cannot be there and are sorry, but want to hear all about it when they get home.
To make my family and working life work for me, I am very strict with the time I leave the office and try not to stay beyond 5/5:30pm unless it is absolutely necessary. I know that when I leave work at a decent hour I can get home when the kids are still awake, eat dinner with them and see them before they go to sleep.
If I have to finish off something for work, then I will take it home and work on it after the kids have gone to bed or I will wake early in the morning and do it before my household wakes.
I am also an advocate of working efficiently and effectively when I am work, I do “to do lists”, plan my next working day, the day before and make a start and tackle projects as soon as I get it. I generally try not to procrastinate in any area of my life, At work, I run my meetings efficiently without too much wasted time just talking and if it finishes early then that is all the better. Over the years I have learnt to manage my time as effectively as possible, to ensure that my time works for me and not the other way round. (A productivity post will be coming soon).
4. Talk to other mums
As my children get older I have organically created my own mums network, made up of mums from when my kids were at nursery and their current school. This has not only helped me tremendously stay on top of current events in school/ nursery, but also given me moral support from other mums in the same boat as me. And when you find that you have more in common with a few mums than just your kids, wonderful friendships can be formed.
5. Childcare provider
I have put this as my fifth point in this post, but it is probably the most important and that is to make the right choice of childcare provider for you and your child (and obviously your budget). And as I write this I am hit by the realisation, that this may be one of the key reasons that some mothers don’t go back to work after a baby – the cost of being at work and paying for childcare (especially if you live in an expensive city like London), leaves them with very little (at times none) remaining cash from their pay. And I have been there, in the early days of having 3 little ones all at nursery and knowing that my pay cannot stretch to cover full time nursery fees for all of them. Luckily, I had a mum who didn’t live that far and was more than willing to give a helping hand…but before mum rescued us, I was reviewing many childcare options (including part-nanny/part-nursery).
Anyway back to the advice bit of the post, for those mothers who do work – you have to love, trust and get a good vibe (gut feeling) from your childcare provider. Obviously, you will look at the reported standards (Ofsted reports in UK) and where the providers are ranked in comparison with others.
My final thoughts on this are:
Don’t let guilt, rob you of your precious quality time with your children. Guilt is just a negative emotion, placed on us by our own misguided thinking, that our choice (if made for the right reasons) is not good enough, that our children are missing out, by us not being there 24/7.
What are your life priorities? Although I work, my number one priority is my family and making loving memories to treasure forever. My second priority is work and building a career. Children can sense and see where their parents priorities lie – make sure it is with them, because although you can make a change while your in “today”, there are no do overs, for “yesterday”…and “tomorrow” will never come. Make today the day you live guilt free, happy and accepting of your life choices…