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If you are a working mom, you’ve probably experienced working mom guilt.  Some of us experience it more than others.  Some of us have felt it and made peace.  It’s not easy keeping all of the plates spinning, that’s for sure.  But, what do we feel so guilty about and why?

Working Mom Guilt and Societal Roles

Women are more likely than men to feel guilt over working outside of the home because, in our society, men are expected to earn an income that will support their families.  Traditionally woman have stayed home and men have left the home to earn money.

Of course, we all know that our way of looking at how a family earns income is long overdue for change. If you feel guilty for working outside of the home because your family doesn’t fit some 1960’s stereotype, you can let go of that guilt.  As it turns out, 71% of mothers work outside of the home. (source)  You are in good company.

This particular cause of working mom guilt involves “having a case of the shoulds”. Only you and your partner can decide what’s best for your family.  No one else has a voice that matters when it comes to your decision to work outside of the home.

Working Mom Guilt and Lack of Time

In my experience, the lack of time spent with our children is what has our working mom guilt going into overdrive.  My personal experience was that of a work-at-home mom who always found a way to work and be home with her children.  If I had to leave home to work, I worked during hours when my husband could be there so that we never had to leave our children in the care of others.  This set-up gave us a large quantity of time with our children, but the quality of our time with them was lacking.  We were exhausted and stressed from all of the schedule juggling and from working unconventional hours.

Remember that the quality of the time spent with your children is what matters most.  Working outside of the home has made me appreciate every single moment spent with my children.  I also thoroughly enjoy every moment I spend with them.  The reality of my life as a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom was not so sweet.

Working Mom Guilt and Child Development

Many moms are worried that their children’s development will be hindered if they don’t have a stay-at-home mom.  This worry is unfounded.  (source)  The circumstances that hinder a child’s development include poverty, lack of nutrition, parents’ poor mental health, the community in which the child is being raised and the opportunities that the child is given.  Often it requires both parents to work in order to keep these negative influences out of a child’s life.

If you are able to provide your child with better nutrition, housing, community and opportunities and keep yourself from the mentally and emotionally taxing effects of poverty, your children are better off in the long run.

Overcoming Working Mom Guilt

The first step to overcoming working mom guilt is to make sure you are spending quality time with your children daily.  You may think that this sounds like another daily project to add to the to do list, but it’s not.  This one shouldn’t be on the to do list.  It should happen spontaneously.

Spending just 10 minutes per child, listening to their stories about the day, reading a book with them, or wrestling in the floor will provide enough quality time to make memories and forge bonds.

Enlist their help with dinner and simply listen as the conversation happens naturally. This is one of my favorite ways to connect with my children after I’ve been at work all day.

Keep a workable afternoon schedule or routine so that you aren’t wasting time on electronic devices or stopping in front of the TV when you have other things to do.

Spend time outside with them at least once per month, exploring nature and giving them a safe and peaceful place to talk freely with you about any thing that is bothering them.

Stop trying to be supermom.  Learn to say no.  I don’t have girls’ night out, I don’t talk on the phone unless it’s business (and only during business hours), I don’t volunteer during the busier seasons of the year and I don’t let anyone make me feel guilty about it.  Let go of the “shoulds” and start doing what works best for your family.

If you feel guilty for working, you’re probably a good mom.  Now, release the guilt and get on with your life.  Enjoy the freedom that comes with it.  Enjoy the time you have with your family.

 How do you combat working mom guilt?


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