Dealing with working mother guilt

Dealing with working mother guilt

28 November 2012 | 7:30 am

I don’t think I have quite mastered this month’s blog topic.

Ever since my children were babies, I have been a ‘working mum’. My husband and I (before we even had children) agreed that if opportunities came up in life that would benefit our family on a financial level, we would pursue them if it didn’t disrupt our lives. Little did I know that most of the opportunities that have been presented to me have taken me interstate and away from my husband and two sons.

There isn’t one circumstance where I have not felt varying levels of guilt, and I actually think this is a good thing. I think if the day ever came where I didn’t want to come home (which will never happen), then I would definitely be asking some serious questions about the importance of my role as a wife and mother.

The only way I can deal with being a ‘working mum’ and not feel overwhelmed with guilt on an extreme level is to remind myself constantly about why I am doing things and the benefits that my family will gain – I certainly don’t work for my own benefit.

Here are some important questions that you need to ask yourself on occasion:

  1. Why are you working?
  2. Are you happy being a working mum?
  3. Is it benefiting your family?
  4. Do you feel fulfilled and motivated to be a working mum?
  5. Is the guilt affecting your relationships?

Another important thing that I always do is write down the pros and cons of an opportunity. Obviously if there are more cons then decisions need to be made. However, you must remember that even if the pros outweigh the cons tenfold, a certain level of guilt will always remain. Unfortunately, we need to deal with this in our own way.

Another aspect of feeling guilty can come from outside sources – i.e. other people who have different parenting ideas may make you feel negative for choosing to work. My advice for this is to keep these people at arm’s length. You certainly don’t need other people putting their two cents in about your life.

The biggest issue with being a working mum is the separation anxiety from your children. For myself, being away from Monday to Friday interstate for four months of the year filming The Biggest Loser  has taught me the value of having ‘rituals’ with my two sons that ease the weekly time apart. These things include nightly Skype sessions with both boys, which always involves a book being read with my nine-year-old, morning texts to my older son and, upon my return, we always have pancakes on a Sunday morning. These are only small rituals, but we all look forward to them.

So to all you working mums out there, expect the ‘guilt’ to always be there. But just remember that because you have made the decision to work, that it isn’t a negative representation of the love you have for your children – it’s a responsible one.

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