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How to handle working mom guilt

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Working moms have made great strides in recent years in the workplace, especially in regards to opportunity, equality, and pay. In fact, 40 percent of working moms provide the only or primary source of income in their families, according to the Pew Research Center.

Yet with all the progress that’s been made in the office, dealing with guilt on the home front is where more work needs to be done.

“Motherhood has been professionalized by our generation,” said Hollee Schwartz Temple, a law professor and co-author of Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood.  

“The reason that there’s so much guilt is that we have turned motherhood into the ‘be-all’ and ‘end-all’ of jobs,” she added. “(We) essentially have created a motherhood Olympics where we are all competing for gold medals.”  

And when we inevitably fall short of those expectations, we’re bound to feel inadequate. So what’s a working mom to do? Here, find out with nine simple solutions.

Don’t compare

Log off of Pinterest, put down the parenting magazines, and stop chatting with the PTA moms, because what you think is an ideal mom just doesn’t exist. “So many of us are comparing ourselves to a fictional composite of the perfect parent, and no one can achieve that,” Temple said.

See the benefits

According to a recent Pew Research Center report, moms spend more time with their kids than moms did in the 1960s, yet any time that you take away from your family can make it seem like your kids are still getting the short end of the stick, Temple said.

So instead of feeling guilty about your hectic schedule, realize that your family is not only benefitting financially, but you’re also setting an example for your kids. They are ultimately proud of your accomplishments.

Don’t stress

Got young kids? A recent study from Heather Joshi of the University of London's Centre for Longitudinal Studies found that children whose moms worked did just as well at school than kids with stay-at-home moms.

Be kind to yourself

“You’re probably doing better than you think you are,” Temple said, who noted that kids don’t need a perfect mom. They just need unconditional love.

Don’t separate work and family

According to Emma Johnson, a journalist and creator of the blog wealthysinglemommy.com, if you’re passionate about what you do, share it with your kids.  Johnson argues it’s a way to teach them important life skills. “It’s just good parenting,” she said.

Own it

Think about three meaningful times you and your children spent together and take note of how you bond with your kids. By realizing that your family, your career, and how you enjoy your time together is unique, you can stop focusing on what your family should be, and instead design your own happiness, Johnson said.

Be present

It’s hard not to check your email when you’re at home, but setting limits can ensure you’ll be fully engaged when you’re with your kids.

Make me time

Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you have to devote every second to your child. What’s more, if you’re multitasking when you are with your kids, you’ll not only feel guilty, but you’ll also feel depleted. So take just 15 minutes to exercise, meditate, or watch TV to re-charge.

Find support

Instead of feeling like you don’t stack up to other moms, “find people that are positive, that will support you, and are talking your talk, and it’s going to build you up,” Johnson said.  

Julie Revelant is a freelance writer and copywriter specializing in parenting, health, healthcare, nutrition, food and women's issues. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.