Working outside of my home is bittersweet. Some days I love the opportunity of interacting with other adults, but honestly most days I hate missing out on these monumental times with Kai. I remember right after returning to work, a friend of mine told me to watch out for mom guilt. I brushed it off, because I knew I felt guilty leaving my child for someone else to raise (that’s what it feels like) – but I didn’t think I had a case of it…oh denial.
There is something dangerous about mom guilt. It can easily cause you to drop your guard instead of providing necessary structure. The guilt of not being there or missing out has been my excuse for so much. Don’t get me wrong, these days are numbered. I love enjoying his spunky, adventerous, and independent soul. However, that looming guilt is tough.
Mom guilt in the daily
The feeling that you are just an observer of your child’s development and not able to actively participate because of life’s circumstances (my own definition). It doesn’t just affect the mom working outside of her home – truthfully its ALL moms. Whether I hear a story about something new, I think to myself great I missed another one. The problem with that mindset though, is that I remove myself from enjoying this journey. All of the sudden I don’t want to do too much or set too many boundaries. What I’ve done is accepted my current situation as a mom working outside of my home as my identity as a mother, which is completely wrong. That identity had also started to affect my interaction and relationship with Kai. I found myself ready for nap time or just observing him play while I sat disengaged (looking at pictures of other mothers enjoying their lives staying at home).
5 things mindsets
So a few weeks ago I had posted about taking advantage of my weekends and honor my commitment to stop letting my mom guilt identify me. Each weekend since then I’ve done something that has built up my confidence. Encouraging myself daily to do this list has been progress. I hope they help you as well:
1. Don’t Waste Time Dwelling: Whatever your situation is, it probably won’t change within the next few weeks or maybe months. That’s not meant to depress you, it’s meant to keep things realistic. I’m not leaving my job at all this year (I would love to, believe me), but financially it’s not realistic for us. So instead of dwelling on the fact that I can’t just leave my job and stay home right now, I focus on the time I do have with Kai. Switching my focus on making the first and last 2 hours of my day with Kai during the week valuable and the best hours we have keeps me from being a non participant in his life. Our weekends are already busy, but I refuse to miss out.
2. PLAN: Take the time to plan out your schedule with your little one, so when your time together comes you’re not wondering what to do or counting the minutes (sometimes seconds) until nap time. Go on Pinterest, ask friends, even check online for exciting things you can do that don’t cost a lot. When you plan your time you maximize your time.
Enjoy the journey…
3. Take Your Time: Everything feels like we’re rushing. Half my battle in the morning is getting us ready. Kai knows we are in a rush, so he throws a fit. No other way around it. He will cry and scream, refuse breakfast, not put on his coat, poop right before we need to leave… It is ridiculous somedays. I’m late most days now, but I’d rather sit and talk to Kai about his morning than fight him about ripping his coat off and opening the gate for the dogs to get out.
4. Prioritize!: This is with all things in life, but if you don’t need to do it DON’T! It’s that simple. Sure we all want time to ourselves (may I pee alone…), but if it isn’t a priority it’s out. I don’t need to blog if I can use that time to play trains and cars or name new shapes with Kai. I would love to. I’d love to relax and have some me time, but maybe I can do that after bedtime. Prioritizing puts you all in for that period of time. When you schedule or set time aside you realize how much time you waste. I often waste time when I disengage from being exhausted, being idle on my phone or wanting to sleep. Oh the time I waste when I give priority to that.
Don’t let the guilt get the best of YOU
5. Identify Yourself: We are many things as women in general and play too many roles at once often, but who you are YOU have to decide. This is where #4 will be key. Where your priorities are will show you where your identity lies. There is no judgment in this last piece, but find peace in what you focus on. As a mother who works outside of her home that does not make me a bad mom. This is a daily reminder. I can be an excellent mother when I invest into him and don’t accept my situation as my identity.
May this encourage and remind you that whatever your situation, guilt doesn’t have to define your situation. We can work together to stay connected and engaged in this amazing time we have. Motherhood is a journey, not worth spending it in guilt.