I still remember the first day I went back to work after my maternity leave eleven years ago. I had mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation but mostly guilt for leaving my baby with someone else. Conversely, I felt bad too when I took a bit more time in the nursing room to keep up with my milk supply. I immediately grew a newfound respect for my other mommy colleagues especially those with young children because it is tough work and sadly, if your colleagues haven’t been in your shoes, they may not be able to empathise with your struggles. It can be a lonely and roller coaster journey especially for first-time moms.
Author and journalist, Amy Westervelt sums up the working mom dilemma perfectly:
“We expect women to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work.”
Sad but true. The dilemma and guilt that mothers have to deal with can be overwhelming. We get guilt-stricken whenever we feel like we are not doing enough for our family.
Be that as it may, a bit of guilt from time to time I reckon, is actually healthy as that is our conscience telling us to get back on track.
What we want to tackle though is the kind of guilt that eats you up and causes you to doubt your worth as a mom and as a good employee.
So how can we put a stop to unhealthy mom guilt? (Cue: Let it go, let it go🏔️🎶) Here are six hacks I have put together based on my research, own experience as well as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) coaching that will hopefully help mommies out there overcome mom guilt:
1. Know your why so that you won’t have regrets.
I have said the same thing in my previous article on ‘5 Things I Have learned as a Working Mom’. It is because when your heart and mind are aligned, you can be at peace with your decision and motivate yourself to push forward.
2. Re-frame negative thoughts and silence that self-critical voice
Ask yourself, how does having that limiting thought or belief serve you and your family? Reflect on the lessons you can take away as let go of that guilt. Affirm your worth and efforts as a mom.
3. Stop comparing yourself with other moms and your spouse. It is not a competition.
It is not about who is a better mom but how we can better ourselves not just as a mom but as a person.
4. Don’t just follow people’s rules. Set your own rules that allows you to give your best in your situation.
No one knows your situation better than you. Don’t allow other people’s judgement to affect you. Different people will have different advice and their own idea of the best way to do things. Remain open to receive feedback without being defensive as they usually mean well but use your own discernment to decide what is best for you.
5. Create your mom and career goals respectively. Celebrate little wins too.
This is important so that you are clear on your priorities.
I believe that a different season may call for different priorities.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back in your career if needed. I know I did and bounced right back soon enough, thanks in part to the recognition and favourable maternity benefit given by my employer. Also, soak in those precious moments when your child tells you they love you. Put your child’s photo or doodle at your workplace if needed, to remind you of your goal.
6. Be kind to yourself.
All mothers need a bit of me time. You don’t need to feel guilty for rewarding yourself once in a while after all the hard work. Don’t beat yourself up too hard when you think you have failed your child. Instead, channel that energy to heal, reset and renew your mind.
They say Happy Wife, Happy Life. Now let’s make that work for all mommies too with, “Happy Mommy, Happy Family” agree?
Chayenne Tan is a “momster” to a tween and toddler holding a senior management role at a bank. Having learnt to walk the tightrope of juggling young children and a demanding corporate career, she takes pride in being the voice of working moms, liberating them from the chains of guilt to seeing themselves in a whole new light.