Working mothers face quite a few challenges both at home and the workplace. Ask any working mom what she finds most difficult and the top answer would be guilt. The time spent away from her children and the home is something that all working mothers deal with. This comes with its own share of emotions that need to be acknowledged and processed. While some may enjoy pursuing a career, others work out of necessity. In either case, the emotions that all mothers go through are the same. Here we take a look at how to work through these challenges and deal with the emotions.
You Are Not Alone
Take comfort from the fact that you are not the only one who is wracked by guilt. Sharing your feelings with other working women, some of whom are most likely your colleagues in office, will make you feel less guilty and isolated. Sharing notes with them can help you get a different perspective and venting helps as well.
Reflect on the Reasons For Work
There are many reasons why women get back to work and all of them are valid. While some love the challenges of a fulfilling career, for some there are financial constraints. Others wish to be stimulated intellectually. Whatever the reason, do remind yourself about why you decided to continue working. Put it down on paper and read it whenever you are filled with doubts. Trust that you have made the decision for the right reasons.
Make Time For the Important Occasions
Remember to make it for your child's 100 meter dash on sports day or when he is playing the tree in the school play. Your presence can mean a lot to him and this may probably be more important than running errands or taking him for karate class. Sometimes what seems like a minor event for an adult can be the most important thing for your child. So do stay connected to his inner world and validate his feelings.
Keep the Perspective
As a working mom, be prepared to accept that you may not be around to witness all your children's magical milestones. Acknowledge and mourn your sense of loss but do remember that there are tradeoffs in terms of being able to offer them better opportunities with the additional income you are earning. As they grow older and busier with academics, extracurricular activities and friends, you may find that they might not have time for you!
Choose Your Staff With Care
As you cannot be there all the time for your children, choose your caregiver, housekeeper, or creche with care and make sure that they come with the right references. If you can trust them and be assured that your children are in safe hands, you will feel less guilty about your work.
Surprise Your Child With a Day Off
If you feel that familiar gnawing guilt in the pit of your stomach, then go ahead and be impulsive. Take a day off. Reconnect with your child. If he is younger take him to the park or a swimming pool and splash around with him. For older children, let them choose the activity, whether it is a day out at the mall or catching a movie and lunch. Some weekends can be spent errand-free and you can get the children to set the agenda.
Keep Away From Negative People
There will be times when your nosy neighbor or a relative may make snide remarks about your work and parenting abilities. Stay far away from those who make you feel guilty. While you don't have to pick an argument to justify yourself, you would do well to avoid such negative influences. Sometimes people's ideas about parenting are different, so make allowances for it. Don't allow others to judge you and make sure you are not your own critical judge. If you live in a joint family or have a situation where you cannot keep away from critical people, come up with polite but firm responses to the remarks. Do not let their judgments get to you.
Be Kind to Yourself
Remember that your child has other important influences in his life apart from you - his father, grandparents, teachers, caregivers and friends. Your child will benefit from time spent with these significant others in his life as well. So learn to let go and trust that you are doing the best for your children. Accept that you will make some mistakes, learn from them and move on.
It is not always easy to juggle work and the children but remember that staying at home with them is no walk in the park either! The feeling of guilt comes probably because you want to be a better mother but that comes with a heavy price. Remember, parenting does not always play out like we expect it to and perfection is not what you are looking for here.
If you would like to discuss concerns related to parenting or any other personal or relationship issues, our counselors are available online, on the telephone or face-to-face.