When you have children, your list of job roles suddenly multiplies. You become a mother, a caregiver, a nurse, a protector and many more. But one title many mothers feel guilty about is one they held long before their little bundle came along; employee.
Some women will choose to step right back into their career, others will take up new challenges, perhaps working from home or setting up a business. No matter which applies to you, there is one common thread; you have nothing to feel guilty about. Science says so.
A study led by New York’s Columbia University School of Social Work found that while there are downsides to mothers returning to work during their child’s first year, there are also significant advantages, including an increase in household income and a greater likelihood that children receive a high quality of care.
Here are some things to remember when feeling guilty about returning to work:
Life is full of sacrifices
There will always be compromises and sacrifices when it comes to combining being a mother and having a career. What’s important is that you remember why you are making them in the first place.
Make a list of the reasons why you go to work – money, sanity, friends that don’t wipe their sticky fingers on your clothes (we hope!). Although there will be times you miss a dance show or a school assembly, your family and yourself are all better off with you having a rewarding and satisfying career.
Should is not a word that belongs in your vocabulary
Do you remember your mum screaming on the sidelines at every football game? How about right at the front for the Christmas production every year? No? That’s because it’s unrealistic, especially for working mums!
‘Should’ is an unhealthy way of looking at your parental responsibilities. Once you replace it with ‘could’, you’ll find yourself feeling less guilty about choosing to work late on that all important project than being at the fourth performance of Jimmy being second octopus in the school play.
‘Good enough’, is good enough
You’ve made the decision to go back to work and your career is going better than ever – but you’re working yourself into the ground by overcompensating at home to be the ‘perfect parent’. If you find what that is – do let us know!
Going to work doesn’t mean it’s more important than your children, it’s just important to you. So when you’re at home, be present, be happy and be a role model. Don’t try to be perfect.
Although being a mother is possibly the most rewarding career you will ever have, you never need to feel guilty about going to work and doing something for you.
We can't leave a blog about mums and work guilt alone without mentioning flexible working. Our team know through experience that TRUE flexibility at work makes a huge difference when it comes to work life balance. Being given the freedom to determine how, when and where you are at your most productive is incredibly empowering. The guilt will never disappear, it's part of being a parent. It's a normal human emotion. But access to flexible working can go a long way to reduce and help you feel ok about that guilt.