Posted on: 25 Nov 2014, admin
I have been a working mum for around 6 years now, trying to balance a working life with being the best mum I can be to my son and daughter. Over the years I have come to accept (from both my own experiences and from speaking to other mums) that feeling guilty forms a large part of life for the working mum!
Whilst I can’t wave my magic wand and make the guilt completely disappear, I have certainly found ways to ease it and manage my time so that I get quality time with my children, my employer gets 100% and I even have a little bit of that precious ‘me’ time.
Here are some things I have felt guilty about during my working life. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Guilty that I am not there to drop the kids off at school or pick them up
- Guilty when I give them a meal that is not cooked entirely from scratch
- Guilty if I ever forget to hand in a form at school
- Guilty when I have not gone on a school trip
- Guilty for buying a costume for my child for a school event rather than making it myself
- Guilty I have not read with them enough
- Guilty I don’t make enough time for my partner
- Guilty if my mind has been elsewhere once I have collected my children after work
The list is endless…
In today’s society, many families find themselves in a situation where both parents need to work so it is not just a choice but also a necessity. In my case, as well as needing to work I am one of those people who actually LIKES working and guess what? I sometimes feel guilty about that too!
As a working mother, it is likely that the hours you can spend in your office are going to be dictated by the childcare you have available. Therefore it is important to try and get into a routine where all parties (your family, employer etc) get the dedicated attention from you that they deserve.
So how can we ease our guilt and try and strike that elusive work/life balance? Here are five tips:
- Don’t be so hard on yourself: You are not superwoman, you cannot do it all. As soon as you accept that simple fact, you’ll start to feel better. For example, if you have to give your child a ready meal from time to time rather than creating something from scratch, that’s ok! In fact, my children are often more appreciative of that than they are when I cook things from scratch (doesn’t say much for my cooking!).
- Prioritise your time: This links with the point above. Once you accept you’re not superwoman, write down all the responsibilities in your life and prioritise to try and make time for the things that are most important. Set realistic targets for yourself, not impossible ones. For example, it is important to me to maintain a certain level of exercise a week, so I make this a priority over watching TV. I also make it a priority to schedule time with my children to support them with their homework and other learning activities. If you need to leave work at a fixed time each day, prioritising is especially important and it will also help you manage the expectations of those around you. Many companies now support flexible working and may be happy to let you work any additional hours from home should you wish to do so, meaning that you still have that important time for your children when you get home. If you are struggling with this then speak to your employer about your options for flexible working.
- Use your time effectively: If your hours at work are going to be limited by childcare, it’s important to use the time wisely. It can be easy to get drawn into office gossip and politics but try to avoid this – your time is better spent on other things.
- Choose quality over quantity: When you do have time with your children, try and engage with them as much as possible and really listen to them. Put your mobile phone down and make sure your time is quality time. It’s not always about the amount of time you have but about making every second count
- Share responsibilities: If you are in a relationship where you and your partner are both working, make sure you are both sharing responsibility for the household chores. If you are a single parent, don’t be afraid to accept extra help from friends or relatives if they offer!
Guilt aside, I believe being a working Mum sets a positive example to our children and hopefully will inspire them to choose and follow their own career path in life. Striking that perfect balance is never going to be easy and what works for one family won’t necessarily be right for another. However, by organising and planning your time in your work and personal life and accepting your situation, the guilt will start to ease and you can concentrate on enjoying your life at home and at work.