How I Overcame Mom Guilt
Okay, I admit it – the title is a bit misleading. As I write this article I’m preparing for a work trip and wrestling with mom guilt. I wish I could say – yeah, it’s no problem being a working, entrepreneur mom who often has to travel. I got this covered.
I don’t. But I am working on overcoming my mom guilt.
Here’s the thing. As working moms we have a lot of pressure on us. From our careers, our family and, mostly, from ourselves.
I know we aren’t the first generation of women to balance career and family. Many of us had moms who worked outside of the home.
But it doesn’t matter how many women have gone before you, mom guilt, and how we carry it, is unique to each of us.
For me, I absolutely love the work I do. Being self-employed, I am in control of my schedule (for the most part) and get to choose the projects and organizations I work with.
I also get to choose how much mom guilt I carry with me – both when I’m away for work or in my office with the door closed working on a deadline. I also get to choose what type of role model I want to be for my children.
My choice is embracing the many hats I wear and the gift of being self-employed.
This weekend, as I packed my suitcases for an upcoming trip, I did so with my kids sitting on the bed chatting away.
When my daughter started to complain about me being away, I stopped packing and focused on her. I explained that yes, the work I do involves travel. But it also allows me to have an office in the house – which means most days I am able to get her on the bus and hear about her day when she gets home.
It also means I’m able to schedule my work around when she needs me – a benefit my mother never had working as a nurse.
And most importantly, it allows me to follow my passions. My passion as a speaker, trainer, public relations professional, advocator and educator. I get to work with amazing people and help make a difference through the work I do and the people I meet.
It also makes me a better mom as I am more present and value the time I have with my kids.
I’m not sure how much of what I said she understood. But I wanted to make sure she knows that being a mom and being a professional can coexist.
Community of support
I’m also all about having honest conversations. I was never that mom who bragged about her baby sleeping through the night (never happened), or how my kid toilet trained themselves (seriously?). Rather I’m the mom who will share my struggles, frustrations as well as celebrate milestones.
I’m all about keeping it real.
Part of overcoming mom guilt is finding people with whom you can be your true self – admitting when you’re struggling and asking for help when needed.
It’s also about setting boundaries.
At the beginning of the month I spend an hour organizing my calendar. I sit down with my husband reviewing our work commitments, kids’ activities and appointments and who can juggle what.
We also realistic about what we can accomplish. This means when I’m away for work for an extended trip, limiting unnecessary extracurricular activities (so my husband isn’t run ragged running kids around while solo parenting).
We shape our reality
I am also clear on how often I will be able to talk to my kids when I’m away. Early on, I would call every night, squeezing in calls between meetings or trying to read bedtime stories by FaceTime when I was exhausted.
I soon realized that only made my mom guilt worse, as my kids would whine about me being away and I would feel torn about not being at home.
Now I call in when I have the energy and time to be present. Otherwise I wait until everyone is in bed to call my husband and get the rundown of the day. If I don’t call, he knows it’s because I’m busy or simply curled up with takeout.
As I get ready to embark on a one-week work trip, I do so with excitement not dread. I’m excited about the people I’ll be working with and speaking engagements ahead of me.
In my packing I choose to leave the mom guilt at home. It won’t be coming with me on this trip as I had a full weekend of spending time with my kids. I know my time away allows me to spend more time with them when I’m home. I also know they will be well looked after by my husband.
Trip by trip my mom guilt diminishes as I embrace my role as a working mom and entrepreneur.
For those working moms reading this, how do you deal with mom guilt? Do you wear it with you everyday or only on special occasions? What support do you need to leave your mom guilt at home?
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