You spend about 70% of the 168 hours you have available to you each week to attend to work, your side business and home management. The remaining 30 percent is tossed between resting and being wholly present with the family especially the computer kids of today. This is what is famously referred to as having a work-life balance when in reality there is really no balance.
Join me as we take a quick walk through a similar scenario
Imagine this………………………..Your boss needs a report and the deadline like a timebomb is fast ticking but you promised your kids that you would come home early to hang out with them. Now that worry transfers to your work. You begin to feel mentally drained mid-way into the task and a task that was to take 5 hours takes 8 hours meaning you have to close later than planned.
You are exhausted, you begin to hate the work, but the problem is that is what brings in the money to support the family. You finally clear your desk and rush home to them but guilt is still painted all over you so instead of being in the moment with them you are focused on compensating them for your absence or worse engaging with them in an absent-minded way which is worse than being absent.
If you feel this way, I (on your behalf) pronounce you guilty of mom guilt. In my opinion, in the imaginary court of parenting there are no convicts but just a moot court for us to reassess ourselves to make us better parents.
What is the solution to overcome this guilt?
Personally I have worked in different situations from being a full-time stay at home mom, to working a full 8-5 job to working a part-time consulting and finally to working fully remote. These experiences have given me an advantage to understand how it works for different mothers- the stay at home mother, the career woman and the mompreneur. I understand what every mother goes through regardless of the circumstance.
Now to the solutions
1. Focus on one thing at a time and be present in the moment
Don’t overstretch yourself by wearing the deadly multi-tasking and “I can do it all” badge of honour if it doesn’t work for you. If you can’t multi-task don’t try to be like others and guilt yourself further. At work, focus on getting work done and after work focus on being present with the family.
I run my own gig
The funny aspect is that parents who are in full time work wish they had a full time gig that will give them to spend with their family but the truth is those in this category require a lot of discipline. Long hours are spent to grow one’s business and without a conscious effort to aside time for yourself separately and for family you may never create that time like you thought you would. Also we know kids copy what they see their parents do so if you are extremely busy, why not involve the kids in your activities, that way you get to teach them some kidpreneur skills, spend time with them and get work done too!
I work a full-time job
For this group, it is important to make up your mind that Mondays to Fridays are work days (although once in a while there might be the need to work on weekends) and accept the fact that you might not get a lot of time to hang out with the family on weekdays. Involve the kids even if they might not understand. Let them know that you need to work to support the home on weekdays but weekends will be fully dedicated to them (agree on set days and hours with them). They will look forward to this and there will be no need to be feeling guilty when you have to work plus you get to focus on what needs to get done at the time.
I work remotely
This group has the flexibility but if care is not taken, they can be physically present with the kids yet mentally absent. It is important to take breaks and although you are working from home assume you are working from a physical office with set working hours. If space is available, clearly segregate your working area from your family hang out space. This will help create a physical separation between work and family time. Don’t forget to ask for help from family and friends if you have too much to handle.
2. Identify your tribe of parents
Build a close of niche of friends and family who are supportive of your decisions and ready to support you regardless of your differences. Having a group of friends who judge you for working late, or being a stay at home mother who has no time for the family exacerbates the feeling of mom guilt. Find a tribe that is realistic, candid and non-judgemental of each other. A tribe that brings out the best out of each other and steps in when one parent has his or her hands full.
3. God is never wrong!
God knows you down to the last hair follicle on your head. He knew why he brought you these specific kids to you to take care of and not another set of kids. He knows your strengths and talents he has blessed you with. Second guessing yourself which is a downside of mom guilt is you indirectly saying, “Is God sure I can do this?” or telling yourself, “I am a bad mother” He knows your imperfections and whatever you do he knows you do it with love even if its not what the masses term as good parenting.
Whilst working on this post, I came across this instagram post from Dzigbordi Kwaku which provides another angle to dealing with mom guilt. I sought permission to share this in a blog post and she willingly obliged.
In summary, once there is love and good intentions there is no right or wrong answer associated with being a parent. The computer kids of today end up emulating their parents and love to engage with their parents even in the simplest of settings like taking a walk together or cooking or cleaning together at home.
Cheers! to a new start to forgiving yourself and to putting a stop to guilting yourself from today onwards.
What are some of the solutions I missed in my post? Share them in the comments!
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