Today I want to talk about a topic that hits close to home for many of you, myself included - mom guilt. If you are anything like me, you know what it is like to juggle ALL THE THINGS - career, family, and the constant feeling like you aren’t doing either justice.
But there is the thing - you are not alone, and there are ways to overcome this feeling and be the best version of yourself at work and at home.
Trust me, as someone who constantly felt that pressure of working like I didn’t have kids, and being a mom like I didn’t have a job, I get it. I’m right there with you. And if you leave here with nothing else - let it be solidarity, sister.
First off, let's talk about the statistics.
According to a survey by Bright Horizons, 87% of working mothers feel guilty about their job's impact on their children, and 50% feel guilty about the time spent away from their children.
And it's not just about children - moms also feel guilty about their relationships with their partners, their own self-care, and their ability to balance work and home.
We often will put all our needs on the back burner so that we can do as much as possible for our partners and children, which you know leads us to burnout.
So, why do we feel this way?
Well, there are a lot of societal and cultural factors at play. As women, we're often told that we have to "have it all" - a successful career, a happy family, and a perfect home. But the reality is, that's a lot of pressure to put on ourselves. And unfortunately, there's still a stigma attached to working mothers, as if we are somehow less committed or less loving than stay-at-home moms.
Now I know you know that's BS - I am committed to my role as a leader, as an executive, and as the CEO of my own business, and I’m committed to being the best parent that I can. I know you are too! Even when you have those days when you want to just say: F-IT ALL - what that really shows you, is that you care - deeply.
It's important to remember that these are societal constructs, they are not truths, and that we're all doing the best we can with the resources we have.
Now, let's address the elephant in the room - why is it called "mom guilt" and not "dad guilt"? Well, the truth is, dads often don't feel the same level of guilt because they're not held to the same standard. DUUUUH. They're not expected to be the primary caregivers, the ones who always have to leave work early for a school function, or those who have to sacrifice their career goals for the family's sake. And while there are certainly exceptions, the majority of the burden still falls on women.
But that doesn't mean we have to accept it - we can challenge these expectations and make it work for us too! Because it also isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. I want to dig in here. I personally feel the mom guilt and all the associated stressors. I feel the mental workload and it only gets heavier the older these kids get with all their activities and friends' birthday parties. And where I struggle is in this statement: I want to be that mom that does it all. I want to be the primary parent the school calls when they get sick. The one that helps with homework and carpooling, and the one that tucks them into bed each night.
But what I must realize is that I cannot always be that parent. And I don’t always need to be that parent.
Part of that is a process for me. Learning to let go just a little bit. Learning to ask for help. Learning to accept that help.
So, what can we do about mom guilt? First, recognize that it's a normal feeling, but it doesn't have to control you. SHIFT the way you think about it - instead of feeling guilty, think about how your work is benefiting your family and setting an example for your children.
When I’m feeling rather guilty about my husband taking them to bed at night, or when I’m not available for carpool, I shift the way I am thinking. Instead of “I’m not there - I’m a bad mom.” I shift that thought to “Now they are getting to spend time with their dad, which is so important.”
The other thing I want you to do is to make a list with your partner if you have one and list out every single thing that has to be done in the home and with the kids. Not what YOU do, or what HE or SHE does, but a list of everything that has to be done. From paying the electricity bill to doing the laundry, write it all out. Then figure out a way to dibby up those responsibilities. I don’t want this to turn into a competition of “who does more” (shhhh we all know it's you) but when you list it all out and go through it, you might find that there is a reallocation of responsibility. Maybe you shake it up a bit. I recommend doing this at each new season of life.
Then I want you to figure out what you can outsource. What you can streamline. If you have the privilege and the means, hire a cleaning service, and have your groceries delivered. I’ve heard amazing stories about “mothers helpers” who are around with small kids but also help with things like picking up around the house and cleaning up after arts and crafts projects.
And remember, it's okay to ask for help - whether it's hiring a babysitter, delegating tasks at work, or leaning on your support system. (I’ve said it once, my biggest parenting flex is having my mom live 5 minutes around the corner.)
Finally, be kind to yourself. You're doing the best you can, and that's all anyone can ask for. Give yourself permission to let go of perfectionism, and focus on progress instead. Celebrate your wins, no matter how small, and remember that you're not alone in this journey.
I’m right here with ya.
(If you liked this blog - check out the podcast episode where I talk about "Doing It All!"). Spoiler alert - I DON'T!