Feeling Mom Guilt vs. Feeling Mom Pride
If it’s hard to even imagine what “mom pride” would feel like instead of “mom guilt”, think about this example.
You just bought your first car and you are so stoked about it. You’ve been saving up for this car and working hard toward being able to buy it, so you feel so proud of your new car. Then, someone comes up to you and says, “Are you feeling sad that you aren’t riding your bike as much?”
Are you going to start feeling guilty about not riding your bike as much? Probably not.
You might even respond back and tell that person why you love driving your car. You wouldn’t dwell on the question, and you wouldn’t let it bother you.
That’s kind of like “mom pride”. It seems silly to think about feeling back for driving a car you just bought, right?
You worked hard for that car.
You enjoy the car.
You feel like the car gives you a sense of purpose… okay, I may be stretching my analogy here, but you can see what I mean.
Cutting out Mom Guilt as a Working Mom
So how can you start feeling mom pride over mom guilt when it comes to being a working mom?
First and foremost, you have to decide how YOU feel about going back to work. Are you excited? Are you nervous?
Once you’ve decided on how you feel about going back to work, stick with that, and don’t let others’ opinions or passive-aggressive comments change your opinion.
If you don’t love the idea of going back to work, it’s a great time to dig into why that might be the case. Do you feel a lack of purpose in your job? Is your boss unsupportive? The reality is that you spend the majority of your time at work, so making sure you feel fulfilled and valued while you are there is hugely important.
Three Causes of Mom Guilt for Working Moms
When I’ve talked to moms about heading back to work after having a baby, there are 3 main reasons why moms feel “mom guilt” about going back to work:
- Someone is saying something that is making them feel that way.
- They were raised in a family were the mom stayed at home and now they are venturing in a new direction.
- They seriously dislike their job.
1. Someone is saying something that is making you feel mom guilt.
It might be a well-meaning relative, or a friend who stays at home with their kids and secretly wishes she worked – either way, if you’re feeling mom guilt about going back to work because someone else said something to you, just know that they probably didn’t mean it that way, or it says more about them than about you.
So, if you’re feeling like everyone around you are dropping little “mom guilt” bombs on you, whether by accident or on purpose, here’s what you can do about it.
- Talk about how awesome your job is and how much purpose it brings to your life
- Talk about all the benefits you get from being at work.
- Talk about your favorite project at work that you loved working on
- Talk about all the benefits your baby will have from being in daycare
- Talk about your importance and value to your company and how they would collapse without you there
- Tell them how excited you are to go back to work and you’d love their encouragement and support
- Talk about the thing that makes you feel the proudest about going to work (you get to provide for your family, you are putting your college degree to great use, you are working at your dream job, you just took on a huge project that is so cool, etc.)
- Talk about how awesome your daycare is and how your kiddo loves it there.
- Talk about your bestie work friend who also is a working mom and is also killing it at her job.
- Talk about the best compliment you got at work once.
2. Experiencing Mom Guilt and Creating New Norms
Let’s say that your mom and your grandma and your aunt were all stay at home moms. The reality is that you’ve been surrounded by examples where you’re breaking out and doing something different and that might be causing you to feel guilty about it, as if you’re doing something wrong.
But let’s go back to that car example. Say your whole family rode their bike to the store and you bought a car. Are you going to feel guilty that you have a car to drive even though your family likes to ride bikes? Heck no!
Breaking free from the norm, especially in a family situation, can be incredibly difficult, and if you’re experiencing other symptoms along with mom guilt, like anxiety or depression, working with a licensed therapist would be a great person to talk to.
In this situation, I often talk to clients about their kids (specifically, daughters), and what they would want for them when they are grown up. Would you want them to know they have a world of possibility out there and to see that they can pursue their dreams? If so, they will learn best by example in this case, which is you.
Think about making the decision to be a working mom as a way to pave the path for future generations to come and help them feel pride and empowered to do what they want to do, whether that’s to stay at home with their kids, or become the CEO of a major corporation.
Here are some things to consider when paving a new path for your family when it comes to a career:
- The example of empowerment that you are setting for your children
- You are demonstrating leadership and personal development values to your children through your work
- Talk to your kids about your work and what you do. Let them have pride in what you do, too!
- Make plans to connect with your baby or kids through quality time.
- Know the benefits of your child going to daycare – socialization skills, building independence, skills development, immune-building benefits – there are so many!
- Display the artwork your child makes at daycare in your home and send it to family members so they can see the fun they are having.
- Find a community of other working moms where you can connect and get to know others going through a similar situation.
3. Mom Guilt When You Hate Your Job
When I talk to moms about going back to work and the guilt is coming from the dread of returning to work more than anything else, it’s a pretty good signal that something needs to change.
This is the perfect time to reflect on what you would want your ideal career or job to look like, and then start putting a plan into place to make it happen.
Consider your personal values, your long-term personal goals, and what brings you fulfillment. Taking time to re-assess your work/life balance and other factors when going back to work after baby will be an important piece to overcoming the mom guilt you’re feeling.
Maybe it simply means putting more boundaries into place at work and having some courageous conversations with your boss about your workload or the type of projects you’re taking on.
Here are some ideas that will help ease mom guilt because you don’t like your current job situation:
- Make a list of the benefits you get from your job.
- Take advantage of the things you do like about your job. Do you have a friend you love getting lunch with? Does your job have special interest groups or special speakers that come? Make sure you block out time to take advantage of the extracurricular options offered.
- Is there a way you could find fulfillment utilizing your skills in your job? Maybe it’s volunteering for a special project at work, or in your community.
- Collect all the positive feedback you get and keep it in a folder on your desktop or at your desk. Go back and look at these positive comments when you’re having a rough day.
- Make long-term goals for your career and connect it directly to your family values. Is there a promotion you want to get in the future? Is there a different type of job you want. How will these things help your family? Do some planning now to know what you need to do to achieve that goal and leverage your current job to get there. Maybe that’s asking for a project to learn new skills to help you be qualified for a future role.
- Find ways to spend quality time with your baby after work and on the weekends.
- Make a plan for improving work/life balance
- Stay focused and be as productive as possible while at work, so you can reward yourself with family time later on. Know that the to-do list will always be there when you get to work the next day and take steps to mentally disconnect from work when you’re at home so you can feel a sense of balance.
You Can be a Working Mom and An Amazing Mom at the Same Time
In the end, it’s important to know that you can be an amazing mom while being a working mom. There can be so many benefits to being a working mom and feeling a sense of pride in your career as well as personal fulfillment will go a long way in cutting out any guilt.
It’s also important to know that feeling sad or missing your baby while you’re at work is totally normal, and not a sign of guilt, but a sign of being a caring and loving mom.
If mom guilt is something you’re dealing with, working with a wellness coach who specialized in helping moms conquer the challenges of parenthood through personal well-being may be able to help you. Creating a plan to create your ideal work/life balance, set long-term goals for ultimate fulfillment, and prioritize your well-being to be able to feel productive at work and present at home can make a huge difference in the amount of mom guilt you’re feeling.