Working-Mum Guilt: How to Overcome It

Being a working mum is hard work. Balancing your career, your family, and your own needs is a demanding task. They don’t exactly teach you how to do this at school and suddenly you’re trying to do it. It can be so easy to feel guilty about not being able to do it all. But working-mum guilt is a normal emotion, and there are ways to overcome it. And if not overcome it, then at least find some ways to help cope and maybe come to terms with it. 

Here are some tips for overcoming working-mum guilt:

  • Don’t be sucked in by the carefully curated Instagram feeds – no-one is that immaculately perfect all the time. Comparing yourself to staged perfection is a deadly recipe. A liberal sprinkling of reality and honesty wouldn’t go astray there. 
  • Let go of perfection. Working-mum guilt often stems from feeling like you’re not doing enough or not meeting unrealistic expectations. Release the need for perfection and embrace the idea that you are doing your best. Accept that balance is a process and prioritise self-compassion and self-care along the way. 
  • Make a date with an Italian. Not just any Italian, Vilfredo Pareto, economist and sociologist. He figured out the now legendary 80/20 principle. You don’t have to tidy 100% of the house, the key 20% will give you 80% of the impact. Focus on the key 20% that’ll bring you the big results – at home and at work.
  • Forgive yourself. It’s important to remember that you’re not perfect, and you’re not going to be able to do everything perfectly. Forgive yourself for the times when you have to miss a soccer game or can’t help your child with their homework. Super-mom doesn’t mean you do everything. It means you’re authentic. 
  • Revisit your values. What’s most important to you in life? Is it spending time with your kids, having a successful career, or something else? Once you know what your values are, you can start to make decisions that align with them.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner, family, or friends. They can help you with childcare, housework, or just give you a break. It’s more than ok to ask your partner (if you have one) to pull their weight as well, so that you can all participate in the wins. You can help yourself too – if the container can’t be microwaved or can’t go in the dishwasher, get rid of it. Put the smart back in smartphones. If it doesn’t save you time, make life easier, or make you money, delete it. Check out what services your workplace might offer in terms of holiday or after school programmes – or creche and childcare options.
  • Involve your children in your creative journey. Share your creative passions with your children. Involve them in creative activities, encouraging their curiosity and fostering a love for art and self-expression. This way, you can combine your roles as a creative and a mother, creating a supportive and inspiring environment for both yourself and your children.
  • Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising. I know – who gets enough sleep, only eats healthy food, and exercises – right? Who hasn’t got to the stage when the packet is only a month past its best-by date rates as healthy food. Or finally clicked ‘save’ for the last time at 2:00 in the morning and realised that all you’ve eaten all day was a packet of cookies? And you don’t even know where they came from. Pro-tip though (just so you know), when you take care of yourself, you’ll be better able to take care of your family and your career.
  • Set realistic expectations. It’s impossible to do everything, so don’t try. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your family, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet them all.
  • Redefine success. It’s essential to redefine what success means to you personally. Embrace the idea that being a working mum and pursuing your creative passions can coexist harmoniously. Success can be measured by the happiness and fulfilment you find in both your family life and your creative pursuits. You’re being a great role model for your kids. You’ll be proud when you see them pick up your life lessons and run with them. You’re resilient, brave, and relatable and that’s inspirational to all of us. 
  • Maximise quality time. Make the most of the time you have with your children by being present and engaged. Create meaningful moments by setting boundaries, establishing dedicated family time, and engaging in activities that nurture your connection and create lasting memories for you and them. You are a role model for your kids. They’ll be inspired by how you do and manage things.
  • Be positive. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative thoughts that come with working-mum guilt. But try to focus on the positive things in your life. Be grateful for the time you do have with your kids, and for the opportunity to have a career that you love. And love that part of you that shows up day after day. More precious than rubies. 

Working-mum guilt is a real emotion, but it doesn’t have to control you. By following these tips (even just one), you can start to overcome it and live a happy and fulfilling life. Bonus tip: If you’re struggling with working-mum guilt, talk to a friend or your coach, or, if it’s really eating you up, find a therapist or counsellor. They can help you to understand your feelings and develop strategies for coping with them.

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

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