Breaking the “Working Mom” Guilt Cycle

“Are you working when you just recently had a baby?”

“Isn’t (s)he too young to be left for work?”

“Did you consider what is the hefty expense for your professional success?”

Those were a drop from the sea of judgmental questions I used to be asked when I went back to work after having both of my daughters and I am sure many of you working moms have faced more.

Unfortunately, as working mothers, we tend to be judged and pulled into a very steep guilt trip for choosing to work when we have children. It is not enough that we internally have that quarrel within us, between our need for self-establishment and accomplishments on one hand versus our self-image and self-expectations of being good moms on the other hand, external factors to us and pressure from society more often than should pull us further down into that ludicrous hole. This guilt trip commences a viscous cycle of doubt leading to uncalibrated self-perception that in turn leads to the continuous self-evaluation of not being enough which then leads to over compensating and finally agony, fatigue and unhappiness which feeds back into our feeling of guilt towards our children and believe you me this could go on for a very long time unless addressed correctly.

It is once we go back to focusing on our core and the WHO of us that we realize that we as mothers and humans count and matter and our happiness and feeling of self-fulfillment is crucial; regardless whether we are working moms or stay at home moms. When we truly allow ourselves as moms to be true to our WHO and not let external forces drag us away from our center will our ability to enjoy the journey of being working moms become gratifying. Few tips on how that could be achieved are below mentioned.

  1. Remember your children for the longest time will see you as their role model so showing growth and professional ambition sends the implicit message to your number one observer (s) that pursuing their dream is a right to be celebrated rather than something to feel guilty about.
  2. A happy wife/mother equals a happy life and if professional development and gratification is what makes you happy, then you are entitled to it. Living to attain approval of others when its not aligned with the WHO of you as a mom will only lead to resentment and suppression that will turn into a bolder of other emotional symptoms, challenges and issues.
  3. Quality does count more than quantity especially if the quantity is accompanied with resentment of not fulfilling one’s ambitions and dreams which would defy the whole purpose of staying with our children. Sharing from experience, my way of quality has always been by enjoying experiences with my daughters for those are the moments that will remain in their memories. It’s up to you how you spend the quality time with your kid(s) yet keep asking yourself, “In twenty years from now, should my kids reflect back to this moment of their childhood, what would I like my child(ren) to remember about their time with me as they were growing up?” The answer to this question is the guideline of how to spend your quality time with them.
  4. Invest sometime during your day in grounding exercises and techniques that can and most probably will support you in stopping; at least temporarily, the guilt avalanche from rolling further and growing bigger as time passes.
  5. Surround yourself with a support group that is not only physically available to support you and attend to your children when needed, but also is in alignment with your priorities and thought process. They are the people that would keep supporting you find your internal balance when other elements throw you off. Those will be the wind beneath your wings to soar high both as a mother and as a professional. Those are your emotional well-being group.
  6. Surround yourself with like minded professionals who talk to the brain and cognitive space of your WHO to allow for that space to grow and thrive. More often than not, when you connect with people who think the same and are at the same cognitive level, your ability to realize the impact you have is better refined and more fairly adjusted. Those would be your mental and cognitive well-being group.
  7. Seek professional support should you feel that you are unable to shake this guilt off on your own. There are many professional service providers available that support women on this journey and help them see themselves with clearer lenses. Mental health care practitioners, Mental health coaches, Life coaches amongst others are the best to be sought. Just ensure you partner with one that is competent, accredited and ethical to provide you with the proper service needed.

There are of course many other actions that could be deployed yet those are the high-end ones that could attend to a big portion of the challenge.

Disclaimer: The author of the article at no point of time intended to undermine stay at home moms or perceive them as any less than working moms; if anything, she looks more at them as their work requires so much more patience, self-regulation and abilities than working moms. Also, the intent of the article is not to say that stay-at-home moms don’t have their share of internal self-talks and doubts amplified with societal judgements and expectations. Yet, the author wanted to share her journey as a working mom and provide tips on what worked for her to overcome the guilt trip she found herself on for quite some time before she was able to break the cycle and enjoy the journey.

Working Mom