Being a working mom is not easy. For most of us, there is a stigma – even now, in the 21st Century – there is this idea that the best person to be with your children all day is you and if you are not able to (or don’t want to) be that person, then you are not being the best mom. There are all sorts of studies and opinions on this subject, and if you Google it you will find a plethora of varying information on what’s best for a child.
The bottom line is that there is no one right answer. There is no magical opinion that works best for every mom. If you choose to work, or choose to stay-at-home, the most important thing is that you choose the option that works best for you and makes your family work.
For those of us who do work, here is my best advice on how to permanently banish working mom guilt:
Make a decision, and be confident – Once you choose your path, be confident in it. Do not spend time wondering if you’ve made the right choice or wishing you could have done something different. This will only cause unnecessary anxiety, which is no good for you or for your children.
Don’t compare; never judge – Do not spend even one minute comparing your life to that of another mom. You do not know her true situation. You can never assume what it would be like to live a day in her shoes. Do not judge other moms. Whether they work or stay-at-home, you must take the approach that every mom is doing what is best for her family and treat her accordingly.
Set reasonable expectations for yourself – Accept that you may not be able to make it to every school event, or every back-to-school night, or participate in every fundraiser – and that is OK. Don’t set unreasonable expectations because if you are unable to meet them, you will feel disappointment with yourself and your choice to work.
Be present when you are home – When you are home with your family, be present. Leave work at the office (or in the home office) and just be with your kids. Make the most of the time that you have together and build positive memories that can help to sustain the children when you are absent, i.e. at work. Talk to your child, listen to stories about their day, ask them about their dreams, and make plans to spend time together when you are off from work.
Lean on your village – It truly takes a village so lean on yours. Call upon your child’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, Godparents, and trusted neighbors to assist when needed. I can’t tell you how many times my mom or sister has picked up my son from aftercare while I was running late from a long meeting. It is not something I want to do often, but it’s something I have learned to be OK with doing when I really have to.