I’m a mom with two kids and a full-time job, and I’m here to tell you what you probably already know: working parent guilt is very REAL.
No matter how you frame it, it’s nearly guaranteed that one or both parents in a family will be working. In 2014, 97 percent of married-couple families sent at least one parent to work, and more than 60 percent of families sent both parents to work. What’s the result? A whole lot of working parent guilt.
Whether you’re leaving your kids with your spouse, your parents, a day care center or a nanny– there’s always that feeling that you might miss something big in your child’s life.
From first words and first steps to doctors appointments, classroom parties and sporting events, the truth is, as a working parent you absolutely will miss some of it.
In my household, my four-year-old asks almost every morning, “Mom, is it a work day today?” And of course, my answer is typically yes. But on the weekends, I make a point to tell him that it’s family day, and we try our best to plan fun things for the weekends for our family to enjoy.
Even though it’s hard, there are a few positive things I’ve experienced as a working mom. For one, because I don’t get to spend all day with my boys, from the minute I get home from work until bedtime, I’m completely present with them. I don’t pick up my phone, watch TV or jump on my laptop and work from home (unless they’re asleep) because my time with them is extremely important to me.
From one working parent to another, here are a few words of wisdom that have helped me adjust to being a working parent:
- Remember, you’re doing the best you can. So don’t let other people who do it differently make you feel guilty. Coworkers, family, friends and even strangers may build on your guilt, telling you that you’re doing something wrong by being a working parent, but that’s not true. You are making the choice to be responsible and to provide for your family.
- Find a network of working parents. Having friends and coworkers who are experiencing the same feelings about leaving their families for the workplace will give you an outlet and a resource for support.
- Search for flexibility, and be more purposeful with your time. Be open and honest with your employer about your desire for flexibility. Can you leave the office a little early if you jump online after the kids are in bed? Can you come in a little later and work a little late so that you can drop your kids off at school? If it would help you to improve your work-life balance, just ask. Additionally, think about ways you can be more purposeful with your time at work so that you can get things done and get home to your family. While you probably still need to put in a full day at the office, this could help you limit after-hours and weekend work.