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Once upon a time, I read an article that said people who work from home were happier than people who commuted to an office for work. Then I read several more articles on mom-guilt and how work at home mothers were more susceptible to anxiety and mom-guilt than other working mothers.
Mom-guilt is a crazy phenomenon already. Just do a few searches around the Internet and you'll see how prevalent it is. More than 90% of mothers feel guilty about the way they are raising their kids, the meals they cook, the state of their house, getting angry, being sad, feeling stressed, and more.
But having mom-guilt when you work from home adds on a whole new layer of anxiety that many people aren't prepared to handle. I know I wasn't.
What Does Mom-Guilt Sound like to you?
Does it sound like feeling guilty for being human?
Because that's exactly what it is.
Getting angry, yelling, feeling stressed and anxious -- those are all things every human feels from time to time.
Yet, as mothers, we tend to chastise ourselves for it.
Sometimes, we don't even know we're doing it. We disguise it by saying something like "my kid deserves better."
Deserves Better What, Exactly?
What we're really saying when we say this is that they deserve a better mother...
- A mother who doesn't get angry
- A mother who doesn't yell
- A mother who never gets tired
- A mother who can play and teach and smile all day
My goodness -- where can we all find a mother like that?
Nowhere, because They Don't Exist
So, what does that mean? Are we doomed to feel like this forever?
No, of course not.
Now, I could say "stop feeling guilty," but I already know that's not going to work. Even if you tell yourself over and over again that you don't need to feel guilty (as I'm sure you already have), it's probably not going to make you feel any better.
All you have to do is try to do better tomorrow. That's it.
That's all your kids need.
Did you yell today over something that didn't really deem being yelled at? Then forgive yourself and remember to try to do better tomorrow.
Try to yell less tomorrow.
Try to pick your fights a little better tomorrow. Make a commitment now that tomorrow you will take a deep breath before you yell. Tomorrow, you will count to ten.
Tomorrow, you will give yourself more patience.
It's Like they Say, Tomorrow is Only a Day Away
We talk about failure all the time, and how failure can often lead to success. Well, guess what? That's not just in business, that's in everything. Fail today, learn from it, and try to do it better tomorrow.
So, why do work at home mothers have it so bad?
Now, I'm not here to start the debate on which mother has it harder. All mothers feel mom-guilt: when they are stay at home mothers, they feel guilty for not working. When they are working mothers, they feel guilty for not being home. Work at home mothers have the worst of both worlds: they feel guilty for working and guilty for not working.
Every time they sit down at their computer to get some work done, they feel guilty for neglecting their kids.
Every time to go and sit with their kids, they feel guilty for not working, thinking about all the income they could be losing by not responding to an email or checking in with a client.
Every time the laundry piles up, they feel guilty.
And it's not like the laundry doesn't pile up on other mothers, it totally does. But work at home mothers feel it more. I believe this is partly because the laundry stares at the mother while she is working. The mother who commutes to work? She's not sitting at her desk worrying about the laundry because the laundry isn't staring at her.
No one expects her to leave the office to fold the laundry, least of all her.
Yet, for mothers who work from home, it's different. There is a different set of expectations. They are expected to take care of the house "because they are home." People, mothers included, forget that working from home is still working.
And it should be treated the same way as if you were commuting to the office every day to work.
When was the last time you were at the office and someone said "I have so much laundry to finish up," and you replied with "if you don't go home right now and get that taken care of, you're lazy and bad at parenting"?
We would never say that to someone else, yet we tell ourselves that every time we sit down to do some work.
We need a break
The worst part is when mothers feel guilty just for taking a break.
You have to give yourself a break -- both emotionally and physically. Humans were not built for the type of 24/7 stress and anxiety that mom-guilt places on us.
Not only that, but when you deserve to just relax and take a break after work, yes even if you work from home.
Work is work. Mentally and physically, there is no difference between working in an office and working from home. It's not as though working from home is any more relaxing or requires and less thought or effort.
Yet for some reason, we feel less than deserving when we want to unwind or relax after a day of working from home. But guess what? You do deserve that break. And you do need to unwind.
Say it with me... working from home is still working. It's the key component of the phrase. And you deserve all the breaks and downtime you would give to anyone working in an office without all the guilt.
About that Cure for Mom-Guilt when You Work From Home?
Okay, so I'll fess up: there is no cure for mom-guilt when you work from home (or any mom-guilt, for that matter). Not really. The only thing you can really do is forgive yourself when you don't live up to your standards and try to do better tomorrow.
That said, I would like to leave you with one final thought:
Imagine you were sitting down with your best friend who just confessed to you that she was the worst mother because she yelled at her kid yesterday for something she shouldn't have. Or because she ordered take out instead of cooking. Or because her house is in shambles because she just can't seem to get it all under control.
What would you say to her?
Now, say it to you. Because you're that person -- you're that best friend who needs the love right now.
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