Working-mom guilt is one of the hardest things that one can face when they have their first child. I recently just went back to my job, and for the first week, the working-mom guilt really hit me hard. This is my third week of work, slowly both Evan and I are getting used to the new normal.
I wanted to share how I have been handling the working-mom guilt.
When I was pregnant, I made plans on how I was going to navigate my maternity leave and ready myself for work. I thought it would be so easy, that was my first understatement. When I decided to go for maternity leave, my employer asked me to perform other tasks from home, which I accepted.
From the day Evan was born, I could wait till he fell asleep before I could work. It was tough, especially during moments when he would be fussy non-stop. Unfortunately, I had datelines that I had to meet in order to still uphold the ‘good employee’ status.
However, after each update that I would post, I was reminded that my time was running out. I started cuddling him more, took some time out from blogging to make sure that I devoted the last of my days to him, just him. Pressure from work was that I return before my leave was up, to which I succumbed.
From the 20th of February, I was back to work. That started the working-mom guilt. On the very same day, I started researching how I can handle the guilt.
For those that are not moms, I want to try to explain it in a way that can be easily understood. It is obvious that when you have a baby. your whole world changes. My baby is my muse, I always want to be around him and cuddle his little body.
When I started going back to work, I felt like I was accomplishing being a good employee than I was being a good mom. With my whole being, all I want is to be a good mom and be an okay employee. I have come to realize that I serve two masters at the same time and I have to satisfy them both.
The working-mom guilt is common to all career moms. The need to be around their babies, but also to satisfy capitalism in order to survive.
The only drive I had for going back to work was because of my finances, without that, I probably would have opted to be a stay-at-home mom. However, I also knew that carrying around this working-mom guilt would make me so stressed, worse still, lead to a new wave of depression.
During my research, I found this post which has helped me so much. I used the steps as a checklist. Let me share
Handling the Working-Mom Guilt
Even before I could check the list of things that I should do, I had already established some of these things. However, let me still share:
1. Have a Plan
I started making plans on how I would return to work even before I gave birth. From the onset, I knew that since I would go back to work when Evan would be 3 months, he would not be old enough for me to trust an outsider to keep watch of him when I was away. My mum had to step up.
God bless her soul, she takes him to her salon every day except on weekends because that is when I am home. She takes him along with his nanny and acts as a supervisor.
This also has strengthened their grandmother-grandson bond. They are literally best friends now. Currently, I do not know when I am comfortable to allow the nanny to be with him at home alone yet.
The second plan was, for the first two weeks, I would visit them each lunch hour just to check on him and breastfeed. That way, I was not gone for the whole 8 hours that my job demands. Now that he is getting used to being away from me, I only go during odd days.
Planning will take you a long way.
2. Set New Boundaries
This is something that I am trying hard to do. When I had no baby and with low responsibilities at home, I cared less about the time I knocked off from work. Somehow, my superiors expected that I would be the same even after Evan was born. I have had to set new boundaries on the time I am available for work.
Best still, set boundaries on some extra responsibilities I am comfortable undertaking. And saying no to those I feel will just drain my energy.
However, I have had to set these boundaries in a more consultative way to make sure that my bosses and colleagues are in-line. That way, we all have an agreement even without any written document.
As they say, share an idea with the team and let them adopt it before you push it down their throat.
3. Look for Help
I have always been confident that my mum would be my angel when it came to helping with the baby. Along the way, I have had family and friends who have also come to my aide without me asking for it.
But while that was so, I still knew that I needed a nanny. Unfortunately for me, I have not been so lucky in that department. Small stories:
- First maid found a lover while she was with us, decided to leave a month after Evan was born
- Second just was not techeable
- Third had an affair in our area. I ended up having to appear before the chief to answer why I was housing a homewrecker
- Forth was pregnant *sigh*
The help I have now is great, I just pray she does not give me issues in the future.
4. Be Good Enough and Have Patience
Remember when I said that I felt like I was not being a good mom and employee? Well, that actually hits you the most.
Being Good Enough:
I have gotten to learn that I cannot be great at everything. I am not a bad mom because I have decided to go back to work and chase money. At the same time, I am not a bad employee because I choose not to stay longer at work or limit my tasks per day unlike when I had no child.
What I must continuously strive to do is make sure I am there for my child and all his needs. At the same time, make sure that I meet my obligations at work and not slack. I need to always find that balance.
One thing motherhood will teach you is patience. However, the working-mom guilt will make you forget all about it. I am learning to be patient with myself. Especially when it comes to catching up with work, and later on, catching up with my kid.
I have to constantly tell myself to take it easy.
One of the best things has been talking about my challenges with my friends and my mom. Just highlighting the challenges I am going through during this transition period makes it easy. Although most do not understand my frustrations, it is nice to know that I have some people in my corner listening to me.
While I am here, I just wanted to congratulate Nyachibambo for her little bundle of joy. Welcome to mommyhood.