When I was pregnant with Penelope, I worked in an office full time doing project management/marketing type stuff and I really enjoyed my job. The pay was not great because it was a non-profit, but the benefits were good , I loved my co-workers and I had flexible hours. The plan was to bring Penelope to work when she was a baby and work from home.
But when Penelope arrived my whole world flipped upside down and I changed my mind immediately. There was no way I was going to be able to work from home and have to pump every two hours and be able to take her to all her appointments to help heal all her health issues she had going on as baby. So I quit.
The first 18 months were rough without my income. My husband and I constantly fought over money. Every penny needed to be accounted for and negotiated with him about whether or not we really needed it this second and if we could afford it. It was not fun.
I had blogged about my pregnancy at my office job and then when Penelope was about 4 months old, I started MamaAndBabyLove.com. At first it was just fun; a creative outlet for me and something productive to do while I was pumping my brains out for her. Then later I realized that there were bloggers making money from their websites and since I had some entrepreneurial experience I thought I would give it a try. I thought it would be the perfect way to work from home sharing all the info I used to share when I owned my yoga studio.
It took me three years to start making money from this website, but I finally got the website to a point that it was an actual business, making me a reliable income. I had built my online business up to a point where working during nap time and bedtime wasn’t cutting it anymore. I needed a babysitter and some actual scheduled work time.
Enter the guilt. The working mama guilt.
I have come to terms with the guilt since that first drop off at a babysitter when Penelope was about 20 months old. And thankfully Penelope has always felt very secure with whatever child care I set up for her. She has either been with my husband, best friends of mine who have similar aged children, or at preschool and never for more than 4 hours at a time. But while there were no screaming meltdowns as I walked away, I still felt guilty. I honestly think I felt the most guilty because I enjoyed being away from her.
Now that we live in South Florida and I have no friends, family, or trusted babysitters to rely on, I work on the weekends and one afternoon during the week. My husband works late one night and then takes off half the day the next day so I can head down to the local public library and get some work done.
The move has been hard on Penelope and she has been very clingy to me, to the point a couple of times she begged me not to go to work. She will cry and tell me that I am her best friend and that Papa is not her best friend and I am her only best friend and please, puh-leeeeezzzeee, don’t go to work!
Breaks. my. heart.
But then I crouch down and scoop her for a big hug and tell her that I need to go to work. She always asks me why and this is what I tell her:
“I want to go to work because I love what I do. It makes me happy to be creative and make products and services that help heal people. I like working towards the goal of being financially free. I work because Papa needs help so we can afford to travel the world with you, send you to private school, pay for your dance lessons and to feed you real food and keep you healthy. I work because Mama needs to follow her heart and her passions and live my life to my absolute fullest. Because if I hold back on my dreams, on what I am able to accomplish and experience in my life, I would be doing you a disservice. The brighter I shine my light, the better able I am to hold the space for you to do that one day too.”
And when I am home with her, I am home with her. Sure I may snap a few pictures on my phone of our cooking adventures for a later blog post, but only if it fits in smoothly with what we are doing, I am not setting up elaborate photo sessions. I work hard at giving her genuine engagement, being truly present, giving her my full attention, and fostering our deep connection. To truly be able to do that, I have had to separate work and home.
I realize that because I am a work at home mom, and my “job” is something that I created and I have no boss, that I am of the lucky group of working moms. I know there are many, many working moms who are busting their butts, sometimes at jobs they hate, to provide for their families. I am so beyond thankful that I can earn a living doing something that I love, that is helpful to the world, and is flexible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this blog, participating in the M+BL community, and buying my products and services to make that dream a reality.
I am not alone with struggling with guilt but also feeling great about working. I asked the awesome M+BL Facebook community their thoughts and they had some beautiful words of wisdom that I wanted to share. And if you have to go out of town a lot for work, I love using Skype to stay connected with my family while I am away.
*I am a better mother because I am a working mother! Each person my kids see each day (teachers, day care providers, grandparents) provide my kids with lessons and develop their character in a way that I can’t. I am a believer that it takes a village to raise a child and I am forever grateful for my village!
*I work PT and was feeling guilty at first, but her preschool family has been excellent! I went this morning to drop her off and the Director stopped to tell me how much they enjoy having her full time vs part time…I am truly a fan of “It takes a village to raise a child!
*I quit, lol!
*I dedicate about 85% of my weekend to my little guy (part of my photography business needs me on the weekend)… I agree with Angie above, my child is better from his daily experiences. I love my little guy to pieces, but I was made to be a career woman, not an at home mom, so I cherish every extra snuggle I can get!
*I work PT night shift so I can stay home with the kids and not feel as guilty. I believe that they need to learn values and lessons from others as well as their parents. I enjoy working, it gives me my “adult conversation” time and chance to be with other people that are not children.
*I show my child that his mommy is a super hero. She can work, take care of the house and be loving and supportive to him. It is so hard somedays but I am glad he sees we have to work hard to have nice things and do fun stuff.
*I am happy to work because I want to buy Emry nice things and take him places when we want. We have amazing opportunities that we are able to do because of the gift that I can give our family by working. When I think of it that way, I don’t feel guilty. Now, shopping by myself or “mommy day”…. THOSE things I struggle with guilt over!
*Feelings of guilt take away from the task at hand. Whether it be work or family time, I need to be focused. I am lucky to have a great husband who loves spending time with his children when I travel.
*I, too, quit…2 months after having my daughter. I went from being an excellent employee to be a checked out, always worrying about my daughter, no longer valuable, employee! I do send my daughter to preschool 3 days a week.
*I’m a stay-at-home Mom. The one difference I find between my friends who work & me staying at home is… They feel guilty taking a date night or having some time to themselves, where I do not. I enjoy every second of alone time by wondering about the kids constantly. Lol.
*I look at it as working FOR my babies… so all the time I invest away from them is FOR them and their FUTURE. So it helps ease the guilt…
*I work from home. I used to send my girls to day care, but really didn’t like some of the things that they were learning from other kids. And I hated the constant runny noses. So, I hired a nanny. I can still work from home, I feel better about what they are learning and less germs. I also am happily forced into breaks when they come visit me in my office throughout the day to “check on mama”.
*Cash your first paycheck. To realize in this economy there sometimes is a necessity for two incomes. Make memories. Plan events & special times together. Think it through. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
*I don’t feel guilty. I’m proud to be a working mom. my job provides the bulk of our income and our health insurance. My husband works the evening shift and I work early morning. We sacrifice our time together, not because we’re against daycare, but because we couldn’t afford it. Our daughter was in daycare for a few months part time and absolutely loved it. I’m proud to be a working mom!
*I am a SAHM No more guilt.
*I quit! We live pretty meagerly, but do pretty well all things considered. I didn’t quit out of guilt, just simply realized that in this season of life, it was the right thing to do. I’m sure when my son is in school all day (when he starts kindergarten) I’ll be ready to get back into the work place, but for now I am enjoying being able to stay on top of home and family.
*Working not only provides, but teaches. In the end, the message your sending is worth the tiers you see when you leave, and the smiles when you return. :-)
*Some days the only thing that keeps me from crying is knowing that my son is home with his father while I’m working. I’m the main bread winner in my family so there never was and probably never will be an option where I get to stay home.
*I needed this! I am sitting waiting for an interview and I’ve been home for two months with the babies.
*I make sure that when I’m not working, I’m 100% attentive.
*I have found that whatever I’m doing is contributory not just to my family’s financial health, but my mental health as well. I don’t feel that I’m effective as a parent if I have the kids consume every waking moment of my life.
*Never had working Mama guilt. It’s what’s best for my family and I. I want the best education for my son, and I want to provide everything he needs. To do that, I must work. Because I work my son attends a really great daycare center and has a chance to interact with other children, and make some really amazing developmental links. For my family, my working has worked out for the best. No guilt this way :)
*I had WAY more guilt being a stay-at-home mom than I have as a working mom. I recognize that my children are better stimulated and educated by day care and preschool than by me. Quality time is great, yes, but education and independence are too. My being a working mom makes affording day care possible. I don’t feel remotely bad about it.
*I feel horrible for my guilt as well as my personal pain of feeling like I never see my family and when I am getting to spend time with my kids, I’m so tired. I’m not making meals or cleaning my house because I’m working 38 hours a week. I used to be a Sahm and loved it. I would love for it to go back but things have changed and I’m trying to help provide for our family. Some days I’m ok others I feel so depressed and feel so horrible.
*Never felt guilty it. I loved my job as a teacher and my children had so much fun at their babysitter’s house playing with other children. We like to eat and live in a house so therefore I had to work.
*I work 2 jobs and bring my kiddo along! I lucked out, I’m a long time pet sitter and I also work at an afterschool program so we spend mornings caring for pets and afternoons he takes art and dance classes with friends at the afterschool facility while I do admin stuff. :-)
*I struggle everyday. I like my job and my coworkers (though it barely pays enough to cover childcare). And I really like the daycare providers that care for my daughter and do a wonderful job. I’ve cut back on my hours slightly but still feel like I’m not able to be great at any one thing, being a mother, wife, employee; without being horrible in another area. My daughter is only five months old and I’m still trying to figure things out, but man is it nice to pick her up and see her smile at the end of the day.
*We try to make the time we do have together quality time. And honestly, I am pretty good at compartmentalizing, so wherever I am, I am fully there at that time. My kids also have an awesome daycare and if I quit my job, I would be concerned about what they would be missing by not going there anymore!
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Skype via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Skype.