Parenting is not a walk in the park. Whether you fall into the category of stay-at-home, working-mum, or work-from-home for that matter, there are unique challenges that await. While stay-at-home mums tend to feel stifled and unappreciated for their contribution towards the family, on top of never knowing how their career would have panned out if they were to continue working, working-mums who choose to work arising either from the need to supplement household income, or out of fervour for their jobs, face the guilt of not being there for their children enough.
Reasons behind Working-Mum guilt
Home mortgages, living expenses and medical bills of ailing parents weigh heavily on a family’s expenses. To ease the burden on their spouse, many mums supplement household income by returning to work after their maternity leave is over. If given the choice, they’ll probably much rather tend to their children full-time. However, circumstances leave them with no other options but to place their children under someone’s care. And then there is another group of mums who return to work to actualise their career goals. Even though they are tempted by the idea of being by their children’s side at all times, they find it difficult to walk away from their career aspirations altogether. These are mums who have most likely carved an enviable career over the years, with which they derive immense satisfaction from.
However, apart from feeling a sense of accomplishment, there is an underlying tinge of guilt for having missed yet another development milestone or school recital. Even though these mums dedicate a lot of time to work, children are almost always their utmost priority – it is not as if they have chosen career over children. But feelings of guilt set in when mums gather the impression that a child’s development will be adversely affected if he or she is cared for by someone other than the mother. There is also the nagging thought that the childcare giver or nanny will neglect or even abuse the child. Other than feelings of guilt, working-mums face judgement from family or friends. With the thought of shrinking from their maternal responsibilities.
How can working mums cope with the emotional guilt
As cliché as it may sound, quality is more important than quantity. Sometimes, changing the angle of our questions offers us deeper insights. Instead of asking “Am I spending enough time with my child?” mums will have better takeaways by asking “How can I spend my time more meaningfully with my child?” Instead of focusing on your lack of time to accompany your child, place your attention on ways to engage your child more purposefully after work or during the weekends. Since communication is the essence of quality time, switch off the television and put away your mobile phone when you are finally home with your child. Depending on your child’s age, sing, talk or simply play with him or her. Being fully present with your child during the little time you have together can make a big difference.
As a working mum who juggles family and career, you are in a better position to demonstrate that a woman is capable of attending to needs of the family, on top of pursuing one’s professional ideals. Through your work, you can instill good work ethics in your child from a very young age. And because it is coming from his or her mum, such lessons are priceless. Whether you work because you have to or need to, working mums need to know that guilt ultimately achieves nothing. If the saying “absence makes the heart grows fonder” is anything to go by, you’ll know that when you pick up your child at the end of the day, your hugs and kisses are probably a lot more heartfelt. And for sure your child will feel it too.