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Ideas for dealing with the ever-present working mom guilt.

by Karol Nechushtan, Psy.D.  |  4850 views  |  1 comment  |        Rate this now! 

Dear Dr. Karol,

As a professional mom, I am constantly plagued by guilt--when I am at work, I feel guilty about not spending enough time with my daughter, when I am leaving work early to see her, I am feeling guilty that I am not doing as great of a job as I can. Also, I am completely exhausted on weekends and feel guilty that I am not devoting as much energy to her as I should. Anything I can do to change this?

First of all, know that you are not alone. All working mothers feel guilty to some degree. Heck, all mothers feel guilty regardless of whether they are working or not!! Your concern is a very legitimate one as your life now as a mother has changed forever. Unfortunately, with the pressure of the workforce, women feel as though they have to be perfect at work (we have to act as if we don't have kids to take care of), and at home we have to be supermoms. It is not realistic to think that we can live life as if nothing has changed. Instead, you need to learn to make peace with the fact that you now are wearing different hats and you do have many restrictions at home and at work. Instead of trying to be 100 percent at work or at home, you will have to see yourself as a new woman with some limitations and stop judging yourself for not being the perfect worker or mom.

It is very important to make peace with your decision. Note that children are very sensitive for parents' feelings and they can pick up on your guilt and act as though what you are doing is wrong!

Having said that, here are some simple things you can do to make things better for you.

  • You said you are not spending enough time with your daughter. Believe it or not, in this case, the quality of time you spend with your daughter is much more important than the quantity of it. Make sure that when you get home, you devote at least the first 30 minutes to being fully with your child. Tell your child this is “special mommy time.” By fully, I mean emotionally as well as physically. Don't think of your work, your husband, your hunger, etc. Just be with her. Children feel it when your mind wanders off. For instance, prepare dinner after 30 minutes is over (unless your child is starving, then change your plan), or have dinner ready in the freezer, so all you need to do is microwave it.
  • If you can, ask a family member to help you, or if you can afford it, hire help to do the cleaning/cooking, so that when you do come from work you have less stress and more patience and time for your child.

About the Author

Karol Nechushtan, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist with a focus on family therapy.

Read more by Karol Nechushtan, Psy.D.

1 comment so far...

  • I love what Karol said about encouraging your child to help with household chores. From the time he could walk, my older son was really into helping me with whatever I was doing. He loves to vacuum and help me cook. Yes, sometimes it slows me down in completing the chore and sometimes he creates more work then there was originally. But we have fun doing it together and he enjoys doing what the grown-up does. He actually developed great eating habits by watching me cut vegetables, he would want to eat them - so now he knows how to make veggie lasagna and loves eating raw vegies.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by boysmommy on 10th April 2007