Mothers: It’s OK to Be Proud of Being a Working Mom
As mothers, many times we feel guilty. We feel guilty when we do too much for our families and not enough for ourselves. We also experience guilt when we feel we don’t do enough, and somehow fall short of this expectation of being a “perfect mom”. It seems we’re always walking this impossible tightrope, and this goes doubly-so for the almost 71% of women around the world who work and balance family responsibilities. Most will experience this working-mom guilt at some point, however, there’s a growing movement among female professionals to leave the guilt behind, and instead, to be proud of being a working mom. We explore a few ways women can reframe their mindset around working motherhood, with tips from the moms of itel.
The Costs and Benefits of Women Keeping Their Careers
There’s no doubt that working moms face unique challenges. Even with a partner, they are often disproportionately responsible for childcare and household duties. Working mothers are almost twice as likely as working fathers to spend up to 3 or more hours per day on housework and an earlier Pew survey revealed that 44% of working mothers felt they couldn’t give 100% at work because of parenting responsibilities.
Women face immense pressures to be an involved parent and a dedicated worker. No wonder they suffer from high levels of stress and anxiety.
There is a positive side to being a working mom. And that’s the part of the story that is often left out. In 2018, a research study and survey of over 100,000 men and women found that there were hidden benefits for children of working mothers. As adults, daughters were more likely to be employed in successful careers, earning higher wages and holding more supervisory roles. Adult sons were more dedicated caregivers for their family members and spent more time on household chores.
The “stay at home myth” was also disproved. A 2015 report showed no difference in the happiness levels of children whose mothers went to work versus those whose moms stayed at home. Working moms also report that they feel more personally fulfilled, healthier, and happier because they’ve kept their careers.
Women Should Be Proud of Being a Working Mom
Whether we choose to work or simply must work, there are many reasons why women don’t need to feel guilty about pursuing their careers after motherhood. It’s all about balancing the needs of work with the needs of family, and sometimes, that will happen imperfectly. There will be days when work will win out and days where your child’s dance recital or bout of flu must take priority.
According to Sheryl G. Ziegler, Psy.D, and author of “Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process”, there are a few ways working mothers can help alleviate any lingering guilt, and it starts by reframing your mindset.
Take ownership and pride in your life choices, says Ziegler, and “stop beating yourself up over your circumstances. Every time you think to yourself, 'I feel bad about __' replace that with, 'I made that decision because ___' and then move forward.”
More Tips for Work-Life Balance
To reduce the “mom guilt”, Zeigler recommends getting clear on what you value, and if you feel like you’re not living up to it, make a change. “For instance, if family time is at the top of your list but you don’t feel like you get enough of it, rid yourself of guilt by consciously finding ways to spend more time with your family.”
Ziegler also suggests that mothers embrace the “good enough” philosophy at home and not compare themselves to some unrealistic expectation of the perfect mom. There are days when your house will be messy, the dishes might not get done right away, or you might forget to attend that PTA meeting. But that’s ok.
Lastly, she urges women to ask for help when they need support, either at work or at home. If you need help picking your kids up from baseball practice and need to ask a neighbor or need more flexible work arrangements while your kids are young, don’t be afraid to ask. It takes vulnerability, but everyone needs help now and then.
Ziegler also wants working mothers to stop thinking of guilt as inherently bad. She explains that “feeling guilty means you have compassion, care, and concern for those around you”. It shows you care enough to care, and that’s a good thing.
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