Before I was a mother I knew exactly how I was going to raise my children. I would stay home with them until they were five and plan daily educational activities for us to do together. The problem is that after my second son was born, our blissful days turned into a struggle where the baby wasn’t sleeping, the house was a disaster, and I would alternate between yelling at my three year old and turning on the television just to keep him occupied. I quickly realized that in order to preserve my mental health I needed to go back to work. I know that it was the right thing to do but I’m still plagued with guilt each time I drop my son off at daycare and each night that I don’t make it home in time to put them to bed. Why do we do this? Why do we put everything we have into taking care of our family only to berate ourselves for not doing enough? Rest assured that your children are not worse off because you work. Here are some strategies that might help you make peace with being a working mother:
One hour of quality time together is more valuable to your relationship than a whole day when your mind is elsewhere.
Focus on spending quality time with your children. Instead of feeling bad about the time that you spend away from your children, make an effort to be present when you are together. Turn off the television, put away your phone and give them your full attention. One hour of quality time together is more valuable to your relationship than a whole day when your mind is elsewhere.
Allow your children to develop independence. It’s hard to admit it but the reality is that our children don’t need us to be there all of the time. As long as they know that you’re there for them when they need you, they will benefit from having the opportunity to figure things out on their own.
Do what’s best for you and your family. What do you get out of working? Financial security? Personal fulfillment? Adult interaction? Remember that you are a big part of this equation. If working makes you happy then that alone is a good reason to do it.
Ignore your critics. There is no shortage of “experts” when it comes to parenting. Their intentions may be good, but the reality is that only you know what is best for your family. Don’t kill yourself trying to live up to somebody else’s expectations. Politely ignore them and do what works for you.
It can’t be said enough: you are an amazing mother and you are doing a great job taking care of your children. You’re not perfect, but if you were you would be setting a standard that they could never live up to. The best gift that you can give your children is to be a mother who is both happy and personally fulfilled. Do what you have to do to make that happen.