Overcoming Mom Guilt

By Megan Bozzuto, Interim Marketing Director at IAW

One day last week as I was dropping off my son at preschool, he clung to my leg extra tight and said, “Don’t go mommy, I wanna stay with you.” I was already running late for a meeting, and this was not a great moment for a clingy child. As a working mom, I’m faced with the constant challenge of balancing motherhood and a career–what many refer to as “mom guilt.” Frankly, mom guilt sucks.

When my children were young, I was fortunate to be able to stay home with them full time. However, I often found myself feeling overwhelmed with the long days and their constant need for attention. I had walked away from a great career to stay home, and I started to miss working. In the space of almost six years, we had three kids and moved four times (two of these moves were international), so I definitely had enough to keep me busy at home. But I always felt like I had more in me career-wise.

I returned to the workplace slowly and on a path that worked for our family. I was able to offer my services as a freelancer and worked almost 100% remotely, about ten hours per week. Over the last year, my hours have increased, and though I’m still a remote employee, I now work full-time hours. Although I try to be as present for my kids as possible, I’m not able to attend every school event, field trip, or sports game. I’ve learned to find my own balance, but first I had to realize that working full time would be worth it.

Is it worth it?

For me, it came down to three things:

  • This study says, “Women whose moms worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time.” With two daughters and a son, I like to think that I’m setting a good example for them. It turns out, I’m not the only one who thinks I’m setting a good example by being a working mom.
  • On a personal level, I have found that working is good for me. Even though I am technically carrying a larger load of responsibility, I stress less overall. Working has boosted my confidence and given me a sense of independence.
  • Financially, I am able to contribute to our household budget and long-term savings needs, which is definitely a bonus.

How I find balance between working and parenting

I can’t say I’ve found perfect balance between working and parenting. However, I’ve discovered some things that help ensure balance on a daily basis.

  • Stick to a schedule. The majority of my work is done during school hours or in the evening. I’m honest about events on my calendar that cannot be missed and share these events with my team at work, my husband, my nanny, and my kids to make sure we are all on the same page. I do my best to make school events a priority.
  • Carve out bonding time. I try to find time every week to do something special with my kids, whether one-on-one or with all three together. I coach my oldest daughter’s soccer team, participate in carpools that let me interact with my kids and their friends, and plan library or playground visits that let us enjoy fun time together.
  • Nurture as needed. When my son gets extra clingy at drop off in the morning, I take a few minutes to interact with him and to remind him that I love him and will see him in the afternoon. I avoid talking about work and where I need to be and instead try to encourage him to integrate into the classroom with his friends. Sometimes I even get down on the rug and play trains with everyone! After these few extra minutes, he usually gives me a hug and kiss and says goodbye with no tears. I may be a few minutes late for a call, but leaving him happy makes me feel better.
  • Find ways to integrate work and life. I truly enjoy watching my daughter during her karate class once per week, but the timing doesn’t always fit well with my work commitments. I often bring my laptop and catch up on emails or work tasks while keeping an eye on class.
  • Be present, emotionally and physically. I try to be home for dinner and bedtime with my kids every night, but since that isn’t always possible, I make sure I’m completely present for the evenings I am there. This means absolutely no cell phones during dinner!

By returning to work and doing something that makes me feel better about myself, I have found that I’m a much better parent when I’m with my kids. I believe finding balance will be an ongoing effort for our entire family, but by focusing on the benefits, I’m able to feel a little less guilty about my decision to work.

What have you done to help relieve the amount of mom guilt you feel as a working parent? I would LOVE to hear what works for you or what you struggle with. Feel free to comment below or email me at mbozzuto@iawomen.com.

About the author
Megan Bozzuto, mom of three and a marketing expert, currently works as the Interim Marketing Director at IAW. She started her career in internal audit and then pivoted to marketing after taking time off to grow her family while living overseas. When she isn’t working, she is chasing her three kids. She also has a passion for helping small business owners establish their online presence (a side hustle!).

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