Mother’s guilt exists: it’s a term that pretty much all working mothers will understand – but how do we eliminate mother’s guilt in order to find the illusive ‘balance’ people talk of?
Those of you who aren’t parents or don’t know what mother’s guilt means, here’s a breakdown:
- We feel that ‘our best’ just isn’t good enough.
- We struggle when work clashes with our personal lives.
- We are crushed by the sadness in our child faces when we have to prioritise work over their sports day.
- We doubt ourselves and wonder if our choices have been the best for our kids.
- We feel shame when we can’t afford to buy the latest toy that ‘every other kid at school’ has.
- We feel we spend an insufficient amount of time with our kids.
Even the best mums sometimes feel inadequate as they leave for their full-time job every morning.
But it doesn’t have to be this way; yes it’s possible to have both a career and be a great mum whose kids grow up normal and just fine!
What’s more, Harvard Business School research has proven that women who had working mothers are more likely to have jobs, more likely to hold supervisory responsibilities, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time!
I personally decided to go back to working full-time when my twins were 9 months old, they’re now 17 and I have worked ever since.
Whilst I may have shed a tear the first time I left my girls in the hands of a very capable nanny, I actually didn’t suffer from mother’s guilt – I loved being back at work and saw this time as a break.
However, I have mentored over 32,000 women who have nearly all suffered from mother’s guilt.
Mother’s guilt wasn’t just a destructive force making them feel that they don’t measure up as a parent, it was also holding them back from advancing in their careers.
So here are a few of rules for how to eliminate mother’s guilt:
- Perfection is a myth
Understand that ‘good enough’ is okay, that might mean getting takeaway tonight rather than trying to squeeze in cooking a home-cooked meal. Don’t be hard on yourself because at the end of the day, perfection is a myth and there’s no such thing as Supermum!
- Stay positive
Shift your thinking to positive every time you feel that guilt creeping in. Don’t allow your child to see the guilt, even if you’re feeling it deep down inside. Remember why you’re working and how good childcare is for your children. When your kids are older you will be able to focus on yourself again, and that’s going to be so much harder if you’ve put your career on hold for years. Think about what a good example you’re setting being a working mother, and how this will influence how your children see the world as they grow up. My attitude has always been that if there’s spilt milk, simply wipe it up and move on. A positive mindset is crucial to eliminate mother’s guilt.
- Appreciate the time you do have with your child
Don’t dilute this time by sitting glued to your phone screen. Remember it’s quality of time, not quantity, that’s really important – so make it count! Try scheduling sacred time together where you focus only on enjoying this time and don’t allow distractions. My sacred time was always driving my girls to school in the mornings, where I would listen and talk about everything and anything with them.
- Accept the feeling
In small doses, this feeling simply means that you care about your family, and your career. Try to create a supportive community by surrounding yourself with other like-minded mums who are not judgemental. Remember that social expectations aren’t always realistic! By accepting the feeling but trying your best anyway, you are working to eliminate mother’s guilt, and this is progress.
Learning how to eliminate mother’s guilt is just one of the things I have taught to the 32,000 women I’ve mentored, and it’s just a small step towards advancing women in the workplace.
It is still a step in the right direction, so get in touch today if you’d like to find out more about how we can advance the women in your organisation.