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How to Deal with Working Mom's Guilt

By Michelle LaRowe

Just because you feel guilty, doesn't mean you are guilty. No truer words can be spoken to a working a mom. If you're struggling with working mom's guilt, let it go. The only one who is forcing you to hold onto it is yourself.

So how can you free yourself from this constant companion known as working mom's guilt?

Realize guilt is mommyversal.

Whether you're a working mom or stay-at-home mom, guilt is part of motherhood. See the mom pulling into the fast-food line? Chances are she's feeling guilty she didn't prepare a homemade meal. How about the mom next to you at the stop light? She's feeling guilty that she doesn't like to nurse her baby. Oh, and the mom who is always first in line for daycare drop off? She's feeling guilty that she can't wait for the doors to open so she can get a few extra minutes of peace and quiet. Every mom occasionally battles feelings of inadequacy. Whether you're working or not, it doesn't matter.

Evaluate your choice.

Only you know what's best for your family. Whether you work because you have to or because you want to, it's important that you're confident you're making the right choice for your family. Whether it's for your own sanity, to pay the bills or even a bit of both, if your family is best served when you're working, there's nothing to feel guilty about.

Forget what others think.

So what if your mother-in-law thinks that you should quit your job to stay home full-time with the kids? Chances are, she probably thinks you should cut your hair differently, too, but will you? Of course not! It's hard to know that you're not living up to the standards others have set for you, but in reality, the only standards that matter are the ones you have set for your family. And single moms, forget what the naysayers say. You don't have time for that.

Consider your contributions.

What do you contribute to your family by working? Does your paycheck go towards feeding your family? Paying for extracurricular activities for the kids? Covering the costs of your family vacations? Perhaps the gains aren't financial at all, but the children get to experience a fulfilled mother who loves the opportunity to make a difference in her working world. Take inventory of your contributions and consider how your family's lives would be different if they weren't there. If your reasons are financial, realize there are other choices you can make to help lighten the load, as well, for instance, choosing store-brand infant formulas that are nutritionally equivalent to brand name formulas can help you save up to $600 per year.*

Adjust your expectations.

As a working mom, you can have it all, if having it all means you fine-tune your expectations. When you're trying to balance kids, career and home, something has to give and you're going to have to settle for less than perfection. The good news is, whether you're working or not, parenting perfection is unattainable. Instead, be okay with being good enough. So what if you're child's birthday party wasn't Pinterest worthy? You still got together and celebrated the beautiful gift that they are.

Think outside the box.

So you can't be the room mom for your child's daycare class. Heck, you can't even chaperone her fieldtrip. But what can you do? Are you a graphic design whiz? Perhaps you can format the monthly newsletter? Willing to spare a few minutes at night? Offer to cut out crafts for class projects. Are you the best party planner around? Offer to organize the teacher's luncheon. Consider what time, talent and skills you can share and do what you can, when you can. And when it comes to the workplace, if you are interested in working one day a week from home, you won't know if it's a possibility until you ask.

Be a master at delegating.

When it comes to managing home life and work life, delegating is something you don't want to skimp on. Consider any routine tasks you can delegate to others and consider ways you can simplify the tasks you must tend to yourself. Instead of dropping your dry cleaning off at the local cleaners, opt for a service that picks up and drops off. Is getting to the grocery store a problem? Order your groceries online and schedule a convenient delivery time. And when it comes to your spouse, they won't know you want help if you don't ask. But to get the help you desire, you'll have to be specific. For example, give him the choice of three specific tasks and ask him to tackle one. You might just be surprised by the results.

Make moments matter.

In a world where we're always connected, work life seems to naturally blend into home life, but when you're with the kids, don't let it. There's nothing more important than being present when in your kids' presence. When you get home from work, change into your mommy clothes, put your smartphone down and focus on spending time with the kids. If you have to do work at night, wait until the kids are fast asleep before starting it.

About the Author

Michelle LaRowe is a mom, award-winning nanny and the author of several parenting books including Working Mom's 411 and Nanny to the Rescue! Michelle serves as the editor-in-chief of Longhorn Leads, parent company of where she shares parenting advice and empowers both parents and nannies to be the best caregivers they can be.

*Retail prices are from a July 2013 retail price survey of national retail stores. Actual prices and savings may vary by store and location.