Finding Peace & Joy As A Working Mom
We’ve all encountered the working mom versus SAHM debate – but whether you’re a working mom by choice or by necessity, there are blessings to be found in enjoying the season you’re in. So how can you find peace and fulfillment in your career while leaving the mommy guilt behind?
As a seasoned working mom who has been both married and single, employed and self-employed, and worked from home and from the office – I’m here to offer some advice.
Working parents were working from home before it was cool! When my daughter was born, I was already working from home 2 days per week due to a long commute. My immediate supervisor was also a new mother, and when I struggled to leave my daughter and return to work, I was approved to add a 3rd day. I can still remember placing my daughter next to me in her high chair surrounded by toys or rocking her to sleep with my foot as I worked.
Because of their willingness to accommodate me, I stayed at that job until my department was ultimately shut down. Hoping for a similar arrangement? Specialty recruiting websites are a great avenue to connect with flexible employers.
Forget Work-Life Balance
I know it sounds crazy but bear with me. When I unexpectedly became a single mom, I discovered that “work-life balance” was never going to be good enough. Instead, I realized that what I really needed to shoot for was “work-life integration”.
I stumbled upon this concept in the first new job I took on after I moved out of state with my daughter on my own. I worked for several years at a local Christian radio station, where my coworkers often brought their kids with them to various concerts and events. My daughter was blessed to get to be a part of so many unique events and company celebrations (even getting a coveted front-row seat at our city’s Thanksgiving Day Parade) and we were both surrounded by a very understanding work-family who supported us and cheered us on every step of the way.
Best of all, the things I was doing at work and the things I was doing at home naturally blended together in a way that felt very organic and authentic. At home, my daughter danced to the music on the radio and laughed along with me at the banter of my coworkers on the Morning Show as I studied their words for content to share on our social media pages. At work, I turned the struggles I was going through and insights I was learning into encouragement for our listeners. As a result, my 2 worlds never quite felt like they were competing, but instead working together in a seamless dance that was equal parts messy and beautiful.
Don’t Be Afraid to Enlist Help
When my daughter was still an infant and I was working from home 3 days a week, I would often recruit my teenage brother and sister-in-law to help babysit while I worked. They would alternate shifts to come play with her so I could be more productive. On my commuting days, my mother-in-law graciously took over the parenting duties.
To this day, I am still grateful for the precious bonding time my daughter had with her extended family members. If you don’t have family nearby, cultivate relationships with other moms, neighbors, and even coworkers that can help support you. Above all, never be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help.
Why do we as mothers think that we can carry the whole world on our shoulders? We take on all sorts of extra roles and responsibilities that we would never expect our own mother, sister, or best friend to take on. Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat your dearest friend.
No matter how much we wish we could, we can’t do it all. Our minds can only juggle so many projects at once. I recommend sitting down each season and setting a limit of 4-5 main priorities for that time. If you are asked to take on another project, something must come off your plate before adding anything new.
Channel Guilt into Action
You’ve heard it said a million times before, but I’m here to affirm to you that it’s true. Having a life of your own outside of your children is not only healthier for you, but it is healthier for them. To add another cliché, you can’t pour from an empty cup. The time will fly by, and when the children have left the nest, moms who have cultivated their own passions and interests will be better for it.
That being said, sometimes feelings of guilt identify areas we need to change. Sit down and take an honest look at yourself and the situation. Is there anything on your plate that needs to go? Any bad habits you could stand to work on? Instead of sitting around feeling horrible, channel that energy into doing something positive about it.
For example, if you’re feeling guilty about missing bedtime, try to shift your commuting hours or start a morning cuddle time instead. Use your guilt to identity areas of positive growth and opportunity. And then let it go!
Remember That This Too Shall Pass
If you’re currently a working mom who spends your days at the office longing to be home, just remember – this too shall pass. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Hence how I ended up becoming a freelance writer.
After years of picking up my daughter last out of all the kids in the preschool or after school program, I cried the first time I was finally able to drive through the car rider line at dismissal. If being at home with your children is important to you, know that you will eventually find a way to make it happen.
Lean into your work as much as you can in the meantime, and you may be surprised how much it helps you achieve both your family and your career dreams later.