It’s easy to guilt trip yourself when you’re a mother and you work for a living

If you’re a working mother, then you know the guilt that comes from not being there for your kids all the time.

Parenting is a tough job, and no matter your parenting style, you’re going to feel guilty at some point over how you reacted to your children, or the effect of your choices on your family.

It’s easy to guilt trip yourself when you’re a mother and you work for a living, but there are ways you can learn how to deal with the guilt when you’ve actually messed up, and how to get rid of the guilt that you shouldn’t have, like for working to provide for your family.

No matter the cause of your ‘working mom’ guilt, it can be overcome. As a working mother who once felt guilt about just about everything, I know it’s true.

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If you want to stop the guilty feelings, then you need to understand where guilt comes from and what it is, otherwise it’s impossible to deal with effectively.

It’s important to first recognise that not all guilt is bad. Guilty feelings can lead to:

  • being more sympathetic towards others (because you’re better able to put yourself in their shoes)
  • willingness to apologise when you’ve done something wrong
  • changing bad behaviour
  • working harder

Guilt helps to police your behaviour.

Unfortunately, guilt can also take over and overwhelm you. There’s a tipping point at which too much guilt leads to self-criticism, decreased motivation, and more guilt.

Even worse, sometimes guilt isn’t warranted because there’s nothing to feel guilty about. That’s where a lot of ‘mom-guilt’ originates.

Here are three reasons you feel ‘working mom guilt’ that is totally unnecessary:

1. You’ve fallen prey to ‘perfect mom’ syndrome

This is the ‘perfect mom’ standard. You see what others post on Instagram (or listen to their experiences) and recall memories of seemingly perfect moments that occurred during your childhood… and you don’t measure up.

You’ve created an unrealistic standard to measure yourself against. People talk about and show only what they want you to see, which means that you’re not seeing reality at all. And those memories of your childhood? They’re from a child’s point of view.

Not only does guilt rob you of your joy as a mom, but it hurts your ability to be your best and therefore hurts your relationship with your child

You’re remembering the best moments (not the worst) and you’re not seeing the full picture. Kids see things very differently from adults (which is something to take comfort in as a mom).

Everyone struggles as a parent – even your mom or the other mothers you remember and feel were ‘perfect’.

It’s time to allow your rational mind to come out. Remember, everyone messes up and no one is perfect, including you.

2. You’re living according to the ‘shoulds’

Do you feel as though you’re not doing everything you should as a mother (especially since you work)? You have deep-seated beliefs about what you’re ‘supposed’ to be doing and how you should be acting as a mom – even how you should feel.

These beliefs likely come from so-called societal norms and/or family expectations:

  • Believing that you should spend every non-work moment with your kids (which is, of course, going to cause guilt. You need time for yourself, with your spouse, and with friends)
  • Feeling like you should be cooking a fresh meal for your kids every night, despite a heavy work schedule
  • Believing you should enjoy every single moment with your child (and if you don’t you must be a terrible mom)

You’re not required to do it all, and your kids don’t expect it of you anyway. Honestly, it’s unrealistic to believe you can!

Instead of worrying about all the things you’re ‘supposed’ to be doing, identify what you do well and double down on those.

3. You’re living according to other people’s opinions

Other people’s opinions also cause a lot of the guilt you’re feeling. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those little hints and near-constant digs that come from family members and (not-so-great) stay-at-home mom friends about how:

  • You’re missing out on your kids childhood by working
  • Your kids are being raised by someone other than you
  • You’re an inferior mom for working

These slights aren’t really about you. They’re about the inadequacies of the people saying these to you. Who cares what they think? Even if the opinion is coming from someone you care about, it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is your kids, and studies show that your kids benefit from you working.

They’re more likely to grow up into happy, successful adults because kids with working moms (and dads) are forced into situations at an earlier age that develop their independence, problem-solving, and social skills.

Instead of focusing on all the supposed negative side-effects of you working, how about paying more attention to how it’s helping your kids? They’re being given opportunities for growth and development.

It’s time to feel proud about the positives.

Most people feel a little better after reminding themselves of reality, yet it’s often not enough. That’s because there are real-life things to feel guilty for. You’re human, so sometimes you’ll lose it with your kids and go overboard and sometimes you’ll disappoint them.

When you’ve done something wrong, how can you let go of the guilt? You do that through intentional, consistent practices that are aimed at changing your mentality, thoughts, and self-confidence levels so you can stop obsessing over past mistakes, separate your behaviour from your identity, and accept yourself fully.

Click through to the next page for three science-backed strategies for helping you overcome mom guilt when you actually messed up…