Working Mothers Don’t Have To Feel Guilty

Mothers work outside of the home for one of two reasons; they need the money or they need their career. Or maybe, they need both. It’s ridiculous to pretend that money is never an issue. The majority of mothers need to work to help support their family. But many mothers, whether they need the money or not, also work for enjoyment. They work for success or for freedom or for power. They work because they enjoy having a fulfilling occupation.

We all know that women can work outside the home. We know that they have the ability and the right. But at some point, we expect that women with children should no longer have the desire to work at anything other than raising babies. We expect mothers to moan about the shortness of their maternity leave and cry in their cars between morning drop-off and the office parking lot. When we agree to work late, someone says, ”Don’t you have kids to get home to?” If we talk to a stay-at-home friend, she throws out, ”I just don’t understand how you can trust someone else with something so precious.”

Apparently, loving our career means that we can’t love our children. Wanting to be at work means that we don’t want to spend that time with our children. And what type of mother wants time away from her children? One who wants an income, for starters.

I know this goes against conventional wisdom, but it’s possible for mothers to love both their career and their children. More and more, both parents in a family work. Having half of those parents feel guilty all the time isn’t necessary. Mothers don’t need to feel regretful just to prove that they truly love their children.

How are on earth can we manage this? How can a mother enjoy her work and feel like a successful and competent mother? Well, here are a few tips to get rid of the guilt.

  • Find a daycare that you trust.
    It’s a lot easier to feel good about leaving your child at daycare if you love the place. Find someplace where your mind can rest easy that your child is happy, healthy and nurtured.
  • Compartmentalize.

    Work stays at the office. It doesn’t do any good to get home at exactly 5:00pm if you spend half your evening checking your Blackberry or emailing your boss. Stay at work until you’ve accomplished what you need to. Then go home and focus on your little ones.

  • Acknowledge that works gives you more than a paycheck.
    Your career isn’t just about its salary. Working hard and accomplishing your goals is rewarding. Seeing your effort praised feels good. And being respected by your peers is gratifying. Admitting to all the ways your job is fulfilling can make you realize how much you would miss it.
  • Build a support system.
    This is easy if you have family living close to you. It’s a little more difficult if you’re working with friends and acquaintances. Either way, you need to have a network of people who you can turn to if things get overwhelming. If you have help that you trust, you won’t feel terrible when life gets hectic.
  • Take your vacation time.

    And spend it with your children. Even if you aren’t going anywhere, take the vacation. Stay home and have some quality bonding time.

Whether you follow this advice or not, you don’t have to feel guilty. None of us do. We can work eight hours, bring our tired butts home and snuggle our kids til they squeal with impatience. And we can love every second of it.

(Photo: Thinkstock)

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