As a first-time mom, I consider working from home a gift. I can check on my one-year-old daughter any time I like and make sure that she’s happy, comfortable, and well. But on the flip side, working from home often triggers my mom-guilt. It happens when I hear her playing in the other room while I’m stuck in front of my computer. It happens when I’m in a work call and can’t attend to her when she cries. It happens when the sun starts to set and I’ve ticked so many work tasks off my list, but I haven’t spent enough time with her. I know that working is not bad and giving my child space to discover things on her own is actually healthy. But where is the feeling coming from?
The root cause of mom-guilt, whether it’s because of spending time away from your child or doing things differently, is from the fear of making a mistake. As a mom, you feel responsible for everything that happens to your child and falling short from the “standard” is unthinkable. The problem is, no mom is perfect and we are all different. There’s no one-size-fits-all type of motherhood and at some point, we will really stumble and make unpopular decisions. All we can do is our best, no matter how that looks like.
As I come into terms with the feeling of mom-guilt, here are four things that have helped me manage my work and motherhood on a daily basis:
When you’re with your kids, be 100% present with them in that moment.
This is what it means to focus on quality and not quantity. It’s a given that I need to set aside eight hours of my day to work. So, to make the most out of the limited time left, I give my daughter my full attention whenever it’s time for us to play. No phones, no gadgets, just my 100% full attention.
Set realistic work tasks you can finish on time.
Plan your week ahead of time and break down your tasks into realistic deadlines. This way, you can start at 8am and end at exactly 5pm, giving you the rest of the day to spend time with your family. I say realistic because usually, what happens is I pack my day with things to do as if I had unlimited time. When I do this, I make my day task-driven instead of time-driven, stretching my work hours beyond eight hours.
Plan activities you can look forward to in a week.
Another thing that I started doing was to plan activities we can look forward to as a family. It can be as simple as eating out at my daughter’s favorite restaurant, going to an indoor park, or going around the mall. This helps me power through a busy work week and prevents the feeling of mom-guilt to creep in because I know that I will have quality family time at the end of the week.
Remind yourself that working is a way of loving your child, too.
Mom-guilt is both emotional and psychological. Sometimes, the best way to deal with it is to improve your self-talk. I tell myself that working is my way of loving my daughter more. I get to buy her the things that she likes and I get to improve myself and my skills, in return making me a better and a more confident mom.