How to Banish the Dreaded Working Mom Guilt

Mom guilt seems to be an inevitable part of life these days.  We feel guilty about the food choices we make, the activities we do or don’t put our kids in, and basically every choice we make as parents.

But working mom guilt is a whole other beast. We feel guilty for spending so much of our day away from the kiddos and then we also feel guilty about how we spend our time when we are at home. On top of that we feel guilty about spending time alone with our spouse or with our friends as it takes away from our limited time with our kiddos.

When you have enough quality interactions with the people you love, it’s a lot harder to feel guilty about working to support your family.  Find out how to make that happen.

I can remember being at a family get together and a family member picking up my baby saying “Come with me. Mommy get’s to see you all the time” and thinking “no I don’t”.

Of course they just wanted time with my little one and didn’t mean anything by it. And I truly want my kids to have a great bond with their extended family. But I still felt that twang that this was my time with them too.

Being a working mom means you spend a big chunk of your day away from home and then when you are home, you still have to take care of the home as well.  It can be hard to feel like you are getting the time you want and need with your kiddos.

Here are some things you can do to banish the working mom guilt from your life.

Choose a job that allows you to be the mom you want to be

I will grant you that this might be easier said than done, but it is important that if you are working outside of the home, to find a job that supports the kind of mom you want to be.  

This might mean a job that doesn’t make you feel guilty for taking the day off to go on the class trip. A job that doesn’t frown on you actually using your vacation and sick days. A job that allows you to occasionally work from home.

My job has the perk of summer Fridays and Catholic holidays in addition to federal holidays.  My boss is also very accommodating to taking off days for school trips or leaving early for after school events.

That’s not to say that all these things have to be important to you. But, if they are, try to find a position that works with the kind of mom you want to be.

Choose a meaningful job

In addition to having a job that supports the kind of mom you want to be as far as time away from the office, it’s also important to have a job that you find meaningful.

When you enjoy your job and the work is important to you, you find value in the time you spend away from home. It is a lot easier to accept spending time away from the family when you find fulfillment in your work.

If on the other hand you have a job that is purely a means of paying the bills, you are more likely to feel like you are wasting your time.

For example, Rachel Hollis may spend a good amount of her time traveling for work which takes her away from her kiddos, but her work is deeply fulfilling. So she might miss her kids, but she also truly believes in the importance of her work. She doesn’t feel guilty about it. She makes sure that the time she does spend with her kiddos is quality.

Date your kids

If you want to feel like you are getting quality time with your kiddos and they are getting quality time with you, date them.  This doesn’t have to be some big extravagant event. It can be a 1 on 1 trip to the ice cream shop or a walk around the neighborhood just the two of you.

Make time to hear about what is exciting to them. Talk about their goals, their favorite character or what they want to be when they grow up. Our kids want to know that we are interested in them and having great talks helps us to feel like we are in the know about what is going on in their lives.

It is important to really value this time and give our kiddos our full attention. They need to know that this time is special for them. This leads to the next tip.

Put down the phone

Time with our kiddos, as with any loved one, is not about quantity, but quality. They need to feel like they are the most important people, not the people we follow on IG or that after hours work email.

If we want to make the most of our hours when we are home with the kiddos, we have to use that time wisely.

Sometimes our kids just want us in the same room with them while they play or draw. Other times they want us to watch their play or listen to their stories. When that is the case, we need to actually give them that attention.

When we spend our time half listening and scrolling our feed or reading everyone’s comments, our kids notice. I get that their story-lines and playing may not be the most entertaining to us, but it is to them. And they will feel like they had a great time with us if we just watch and listen.

When you have enough quality interactions with the people you love, it’s a lot harder to feel guilty about working to support your family. Find out how to make that happen.

Be honest about what you are doing

That said, sometimes we do have to check our phones or do something else while we are with our kiddos.  That is totally OK. It‘s important for us to be honest about it though.

We can tell our kids, “I really want to hear what you have to say, I just have to respond to this email real quick and then I will give you my full attention.” Then we have to actually do what we say.  

It’s OK to get interrupted, in fact, it's often inevitable. I just tell my kids that I need to take care of the interruption so that I won’t be distracted and can give them my full attention.

Other times I have to multitask. The kids want to play but I have to fold laundry or I have to cook. In these cases we try to find ways to make it work.

Sometimes they help me with the laundry. Other times they use the socks as puppets while I fold the clothes. Still other times they perform or act out stories and I watch while I fold.

If I’m making food, sometimes we have dance parties in the kitchen together while I cook. Other times they help me cook or they set the table while I cook.

We try to make doing these chores fun and make it feel like quality time instead of more time where the family is together and I am stuck on my own doing chores.

Make the time away valuable

In most cases, it is necessary to work to support our families. It is also necessary to spend time alone with our spouse and with our friends.  When these activities take us away from our kiddos, it is important to make the most of it.

Use your lunch break to run errands or get a workout in or pay bills.  When you go on a date, really pay attention to your spouse. Use that time to recharge yourself and your relationship.

Just because you spent a few hours together doesn’t mean those things got accomplished.

Do something fun together, try a cooking class or take a hike. Talk about your dreams and what you want to accomplish.

Movie dates are nice, but we spend so much time zoned out side by side watching Netflix, that it’s important to actually do things where we can interact.

Same goes for time with our friends. Do activities that allow you to catch up, vent and really bond. If you can’t get sitters, do a virtual hangout where you have a glass of wine and hangout over Skype or google hangouts. Then you can do it after bedtime and not miss anytime with your kiddos but still recharge!

The point is to find a job that allows you to feel balanced not necessarily that you have exactly equal hours at home and at work, but that you feel good about.  Then make the most of your time whether you are at home or at work. Really focus on the task at hand and the people you are with.

When you have a quality interaction with the people you love, it doesn’t matter how long it took, it just matters that you allowed it to happen.