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13Nov 13

Should working mums feel guilty?

As a working mum, you trade hours with your children for hours at the office. Whether we are working for financial reasons, for the love of the job, or both, we working mums feel guilty from time to time for our choice. I know I do!

As long as we remain loving, hands-on mothers to our children, we shouldn’t feel guilty. After all, our work ethic sets a good example for our kids! But simply telling ourselves not to feel guilty doesn’t always get rid of the negativity. So how can we deal with this nagging feeling?

Should working mums feel guilty?

Should working mums feel guilty?


A bit of self-reflection can help you put things into perspective. Make a list of reasons why you work, and carefully read them over while asking yourself, “Is this best for my family?” Is it for the money? Clearly, you are doing the right thing. Is it for your happiness? You are also doing the right thing – believe me, your children prefer to have a happy, working mum instead of a resentful stay-at-home mum later on. Whatever the reason, if working benefits your family, let go of your guilt.

Next, make a list of ways that you are active in your children’s lives. Try to include concrete examples, such as “I help them with their homework” or “We take swimming lessons together on Saturdays”. There is always room for improvement, but seeing on paper the many ways you love and care for your children can also help you deal with your guilt.

Listen to your instincts

Sometimes, our guilt is actually our instinct telling us that something isn’t right. It could be that your partner isn’t pulling his or her own weight around the house, or perhaps your boss is making your work-life balance difficult.

When my boys Jack and Rodger were younger, I left them with a nanny while I was at work. I felt guilty, but much more than I expected. I realized that if I were at home with my kids, I would be taking them to the park, the store or the library, or I would be arranging play dates for them with other children. These things weren’t happening with the nanny, so instead I put my boys in a crèche that a friend had recommended, where they could play with others their own age and take advantage of the nursery’s toys, books and organized outings. The guilt I had been feeling turned out to be a red flag that something was wrong.

Avoid negative people

It is also important to stop spending time with people who make you feel guilty. People who make you feel bad for doing what is best for your family have no right to do so, so avoid them. If they are family members such as your mother-in-law, try to spend as little time as possible with them. Stay confident that you know your family best, not them.

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