I find I feel overwhelmingly guilty at work since I think I am neglecting my baby. Then I feel guilty at home because I feel I am neglecting my work. How can I cope with this guilt?
It is the misfortune of working mothers that they must always feel overwhelmingly guilty. The day you go back to work is the day you sign up to lead a life consumed with guilt. When you go to work, leaving your child home you feel bad. When you leave your work early to be with your child, you are full of self reproach. The cause of this guilt is partly, yourself.
Try Accept the Reality to Overcome the Guilt
You feel the need to give yourself wholly to your child and be there for him through all the little illnesses, accidents, trials and successes. You also want to give your job all you have got whether it means travelling out of town or working late to finish your projects. You must first and foremost recognise this: that your life will always be one of compromise. You simply cannot be at two places at once. Only when you accept this can you try to alleviate some guilt for the compromises you have made.
Be Strong about Your Decision
Another reason for this guilt is the attitude of other people. Everyone you know, and even strangers sometimes, will have an opinion on whether you made the right choice and whether your child is being well brought up. Each child in the neighbourhood may run through your neighbour’s flower beds, but YOUR child is doing so only because you are at work. You need to develop a thick skin to withstand the criticism of some judgemental people whilst retaining the counsel of those whose opinions you can trust.
All Mothers Feel Guilty at Some Point of Time
All mothers, working or not, believe that they are at fault when something goes wrong with their children. It is almost as if we feel so omnipresent and omniscient that any bad thing can only have happened due to our neglect. This is ridiculous and just because you feel guilty does not mean that you are guilty.
Develop a Support Group
It is a good idea to befriend other mothers who work. You may not only develop a wonderful support group, but you will also realise that you are not alone. Every mother has, at some time, gone to work leaving a sick child at home.
Dwell On the Positives
As a working mother, you are providing your children with greater economic security. You are a great role model for your little girls and your little boys will grow up to be much more supportive of women who work.
Time Spent with Older Child is Comparatively Less
If you have older children, recognise that the amount of time you spend with them is not too much different from the time spent with a stay at home mother. Take the number of waking hours a child has in a day. Minus the time the child spends in school. Take away the time spent with friends and in activities. The child is really not available for very long in the day. You will find that there is not an overwhelming difference. In any case, the key to happy parenting is not to compare yourself with any other mother and never to compare children with one another.