The Biggest Regrets of Working Mothers
Working mothers must be one of the most maligned groups on the planet and it often seems they just can’t win. Open any newspaper or magazine and you embark on one long guilt-trip, reminded of the emotional ‘damage’ you could be causing your children as a result of not being there for the school run, to help with homework or see them in the nativity play.
For many women, however, not working is simply not an option. Whether you return to work out of financial necessity or simply because you love your career, there will always be those days when you feel a painful pang of regret at not staying home with the kids. Here are just a few of the biggest regrets working mums share, just so you know you’re far from alone.
Reading Too Many ‘How-to’ Manuals
Open any baby or parenting advice book and you may well feel swamped by the amount of information and ‘guidance’ in there. Covering everything from bonding with baby to toddlers and picky eating, it seems every aspect of motherhood has been turned into a science and you’re never going to get it right. Put the books down and comfort yourself with the thought that the human race has managed to survive this long without parenting experts to guide us through the process of raising kids.
Many working mothers say being made to feel guilty about returning to work led them to overcompensate in other ways. If you can’t spend as much time with your kids as you would like, there’s always a temptation to turn the precious hours you do have with them into a big, special occasion. Most of the time they’ll just be pleased to have you there, but lavishing them with treats and expensive outings will only make things harder in the long run – they’ll come to expect the extra attention and you’ll always feel you need to go one step further, when you’d all be better off just keeping things simple.
Not Enforcing Rules
As with overcompensating, there’s often a temptation to let your kids get away with more rather than feel you’re the ‘bad cop’ when you are around. Many working mums regret not enforcing the ground rules they’d already set out, because if they can get away with something once then kids are bound to try it a second time. Even if you feel guilt-ridden for saying ‘no’, you have to be consistent when you do get time at home.
Not Taking Enough Breaks
You don’t have to go jetting off around the world with them, but many working mums later in their careers regret not taking more family breaks together. Even if you just take a few days here and there to enjoy family outings in your nearest city, it’s a chance to create some happy memories and spend some quality time together away from the everyday battles over homework and eating their vegetables.
Feeling Guilty About Not Feeling Guilty
Is there a little bit of you secretly enjoys getting away from the baby talk and the endless hours of feigning interest in Lego? Many working mums quietly breathe a sigh of relief that they actually get some mental stimulation in the office every day, and then feel a twinge of guilt for admitting it. Working mums are so often made to feel guilty that feeling good about going to work is made to seem unnatural. Remember you’re entitled to enjoy both career and kids.
There is no working mother alive who can admit to living a wholly guilt-free existence, so don’t feel you’re alone. Whether you’re back to work through choice or because needs must, remember how many women are in the same boat – learn to talk about it more openly with one another and juggling career and kids won’t feel like so much of a guilt-trip.
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