Are you falling into the ‘mummy guilt’ trap?

‘Mummy guilt’ strikes a lot of us from time-to-time. What can you learn from it and how can you cope?

Every working mother suffers from ‘mummy guilt’ at some time or the other. Those who say they don’t may not want to acknowledge it or are often lying.

There are many scenarios where guilt rears its head. Your baby has a raging fever when you have an important presentation at work. Your child is all set for her first stage performance and your meeting with a client is just dragging on. There’s a huge opportunity to travel abroad on an assignment but no support system to look after your children. Often, you end up thinking you have only two choices – either give up your job or wallow in the guilt. But not many can afford to do the former because of economic constraints. That leaves behind feelings like confusion, depression, and dejection.

The fact is, parenting doesn’t come out of a rule book. You learn and grow as your children grow. But once you’re a mother, it’s as if the whole world has an opinion on how you should be a good one. Which again leads us to guilt… not rising to our own expectations and the expectations of others.

Work-life is a difficult juggling act, and it’s not always that you can strike that balance. But you can do a lot to feel at ease and less worried. First of all, you need to stop judging yourself. It’s important to remember that every area of life comes with its own set of challenges.

Here’s how you can mitigate those feelings of guilt to a large extent.

Assess your guilt

Sometimes a lot of guilt can be a warning signal. Maybe something’s really wrong with your job that you’re feeling guilty all the time. List out the reasons. Time management will help or better planning will ensure that things at home run smoothly. Perhaps, you can also speak to your boss and explain what’s troubling you. A frank discussion with your spouse may also help sort things out.

Welcome changes

Life’s not the same all the time. Remember that challenges and problems are not permanent. Keep in mind that family dynamics may shift. You may leave your job or deftly handle current circumstances with more help. Children will grow and need less of your time. So it makes sense to revisit your work-life balance periodically to understand whether your needs and priorities are shifting.

Steer clear of guilt-chargers

Keep away from people who make you feel guilty all the time. Like we said before, when it comes to parenting, the whole world has an opinion, from your neighbour to the woman standing next to you in the supermarket line. Ignore snide comments and don’t let adverse comments get to you. After all, no one was born a mum, you become one! Ignoring people is easier said than done, but with a little practice, you can make yourself immune to ‘unwanted advice’.

Spend quality time

It may sound like a cliché, but quality time with your children is more important than the duration. Keep some time aside every day to embrace your inner child. Let go and be a part of your children’s activities – whether it’s colouring or watching cartoons with them.

You are not alone

Yes, you are not alone in this. Most working women face challenges, but also remember that stay-at-home mums can have as much stress as you. So go ahead and relish your good moments, at home and at work!

Make the most of things

Learn to acknowledge that there are some things in your kids’ life that you are going to miss out on. It’s okay to be sad, but don’t let those feelings drown you in guilt. Always be positive and think of happy moments with them. Also, reason out what you are gaining from being a working mum. You’ll feel happy that way.

And here’s something that’s heartening! New research says that working doesn’t lower the quality of parenting. A study by researchers at University College, London, says the best scenario for children is a home in which both parents work in paid jobs, partly because mothers who work are less likely to be depressed.

While the results may not be entirely true as it depends from family to family and situation to situation, it does put us working mums at ease. Ultimately, it all comes down to happiness… if you are happy with your work-life situation, your children are definitely going to be happy too!

Also read: Out of a sheer lack of parenting information for new mums, Baby Destination was born

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