Tips For Eliminating Working Mom Guilt

As a working mom, there are days that I can barely keep my head above water. And I know there isn’t a mom out there who hasn’t felt the same way. We juggle conference calls with car pools, doctor’s appointments with client meetings and swim meets with business trips. Not to mention the myriad of daily tasks that are laid squarely at our feet. We are constantly being pulled in multiple directions, expected to perform miracles that few can accomplish, and take care of everyone around us – all without dropping a single ball and keeping a smile on our face. And somehow, we manage to pull it off, day after day. Not always with a smile and occasionally a ball or two drops, but the ship stays afloat.

However, the biggest threat to our carefully orchestrated balancing act, is mom guilt. Every day, we have to weigh the needs of our families against our professional aspirations and second guessing our decisions can send it all crashing to the ground. I’ll let you in on a secret – you can’t have it all. Every choice comes with sacrifices; some big, some insignificant. What most moms have trouble accepting is that it is okay to make a choice; to prioritize one part of your life over another without feeling guilty. In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, all working moms should give themselves the gift of living guilt-free. To get you started, follow these tips:

  1. Prioritize. What comes first, right now? Our priorities will shift throughout our lives. When kids are young, they may need the most attention. Or you may have dedicated help that allows you to focus on your career until they get older. Knowing what’s most important right now will make it easier to decide if you should take the promotion that will move your family across the country or if you should put your career on the back burner for the time being.
  2. Set reasonable expectations. When I was a stay at home mom, I was homeroom parent, I chaired committees, volunteered at the high school, and prepared elaborate and healthy meals for my family every night. Since returning to work, it’s not reasonable to think that I can continue in the same vein. I quickly learned the art of saying “no” and realized that sometimes getting take-out and making a charitable donation is enough.
  3. Surround yourself with a supportive community and resources. No one can, or should, try to do it alone. Having professional and personal contacts who can pick up where you leave off can mean attending a career boosting conference and having someone live stream your son’s performance in the school play so you don’t have to miss it.
  4. Own your decisions. You are deciding what is best for you right now, not forever. If you can’t confidently declare your choices, you aren’t owning them. Most days, I want to run the world but until my kids are older, a flexible work arrangement is best for me. In the meantime, I’m happy to celebrate the successes of my friends knowing that one day, they will have the chance to do the same for me.

As a working mom, I have too much on my plate to waste time feeling guilty and so do you. Practice saying no, learn when good enough really is good enough, and remember, a store bought birthday cake doesn’t mean you love your kids any less.

Jill Frank is the Director of Technical Recruiting For Consultants 2 Go.