I’ll never forget the second hand discomfort I felt when my mother criticized my sister for going back to work full-time right after her maternity leave had finished.
She had finally started a career that she found exciting and fulfilling, and was looking forward to going back to work (for the most part).
But her son was just a year old; an age that some people may deem too young for long-term day care. Despite what her friends and fellow parents were telling her – “it’s fine, I did the same with my kid” or “it’s a different time – in today’s world and economy, you can’t really expect to just have one breadwinner” – I know that she was filled with guilt for wanting to return to the workplace.
Working moms face a unique level of criticism that no other woman – or person – can truly relate to.
They’re ostracized by other women for not being fully devoted to their families, and are judged at work for not giving it their all. We’re often given the narrative that women can have it all, but are faced with hypocrisy from both sides. These challenges can put a serious limitation on the working mom’s happiness, causing the dreaded working mom guilt.
Below we’ll be sharing the impacts of this guilt and how working moms can learn to overcome it.
I think every working mom probably feels the same thing. You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible—oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.Tina Fey
People of all genders and lifestyles can experience burnout, but it’s something that working moms are especially prone to. Approximately 9.8 million of the 35 million working moms in the US admitted to suffering from workplace burnout in 2019.
Juggling your parental and household responsibilities with your employment obligations is hard. You may find yourself stretched too thin in both areas, putting you at a prime risk for burnout.
The best way to avoid this is to lighten your load whenever and wherever possible. As much as you may want to do it all, it’s not worth it when your health is at stake. There’s no shame in asking for more help whether it’s delegating amongst co-workers and family members more or sourcing external assistance. We understand that this may be a sensitive topic at work, especially if you have already made special requests, but any reasonable employer will want to help you prevent burnout.
It’s important to remember that more time at home does not mean that no parenting mistakes will ever be made. It’s easy to blame yourself for not being present enough, but the truth is that stay at home moms or moms that work part time face the same parenting issues that you do.
Some things are inevitable, like sickness or academic mishaps, regardless of what kind of a mom you are. Remove yourself from the guilt and remember that we’re all only human.
Working moms likely struggle with achieving a healthy work-life balance more than anyone. After completing all of their professional and familial obligations, there probably isn’t much time left for anything else.
You might not be able to cut your hours at work, but take a look at your routines to see if there’s anything you can streamline. Consider switching to online grocery shopping or meal kits, cut back unnecessary screen time at home, or check out ways you can do more activities with your kids so you get more quality time together.
There is a significant difference in how we view working men and women. While males have traditionally worked in the public sector, their sense of family obligation is confined to that of a breadwinner instead of women’s position as housekeepers.
As a result, whenever women enter the workforce, their devotion to their families is sometimes questioned, and their priorities must be established immediately. You may have to work a bit harder to show your commitment to your role, but never be ashamed of prioritizing your family too. Traditional perceptions can take generations to break, but know that you’re one of the trailblazers paving the way for a better future.
You might not be able to fully escape working mom guilt, especially as you’re just returning to work, but know that it’s not something you should live with on a permanent basis. You’re doing one of the most badass things a woman can do, so hats off to you!