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Working Mom Guilt is Real: How to Handle It

tracey montford

By Tracey Montford

Jul 17, 2019

In a modern world where women are told we can have it all; a fabulous career, a happy family, health and wellness. Nowhere are we told that having it all means that we often feel rushed, overwhelmed and sometimes anxious. This is particularly evident for new moms, who are trying to come to terms with motherhood and the increasing demand on their time.

With only 24 hours in a day we are only physically capable of doing so much! Sometimes the things that are most important to us get less attention, which leaves us with feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

We are literally being set up for failure as the media continues to spread false expectations of what a good mom is supposed to be. No one’s life is as perfectly scripted, as a lot of Instagram influencers would like us to think it is.

Mom guilt is real; if you are experiencing it you are not alone.

Source: JordanWhitt (Unsplash)

How do I know if I have mom guilt?


You constantly worry about the well-being of your child and if your decisions are right for him or her.

Irrational behavior

Sudden bursts of anger and or tears may be experienced. Your usual calm personality gives in to a sometimes-irrational person.

Sleepless nights

Experiencing difficulty sleeping. Your mind is racing constantly and is unable to settle.

Hard on yourself

You focus more on your shortcomings, rather than celebrating the successes.


You feel overwhelmed by the simplest of tasks. You constantly question yourself!

Learn more: Listening to & Nourishing Your Body After Baby


You feel a sense of loss, loneliness or abandonment.


A loss of appetite.

mom kissing baby
Source: Derek Thomson (Unsplash)

Why are women experiencing ‘guilt’?

The first thing we need to consider is the age in which women are now having children compared to 50 years ago. Women are generally waiting longer before embarking on motherhood with the average women in 2016 having children at the age of approx. 27 years of age compared with in 1970, 21 years old.

By the time she falls pregnant she is likely to have a well-established career, travelled the world, has an abundance of nice things, owns a home and has a great social life.

When we become mothers the life that we had become accustomed to changes dramatically. Our need for the same independence stays and when we do take time out for ourselves, we feel guilty and an urge to spend every waking moment with our children.

The second thing and already mentioned is that women are now establishing themselves with viable careers. These careers are interrupted when she falls pregnant and starts a family.

A lot of women in past generations did not have careers. Their role within the family unit was to stay at home, raise the children and run the household. She did not experience the guilt of leaving her children in daycare or the care of others when she leaves for work each day.

The decision to work is often not a decision taken likely. For some women they need the separation and stimulation that a working environment offers to have fulfillment. For others the decision to go back to work is driven by finances. The family unit needs the extra income to cover living expenses.

Whatever your reason is for returning back to the workforce. Mom guilt is often experienced.

How can I set realistic expectations for myself when it comes to my role as a parent? So that I don’t feel guilty.

Be kind to you

Allow yourself to be imperfect & don’t judge it. Social media only shows you a snap shot of these people’s lives. They too have imperfections!

Stop comparing yourself to others

We are all unique and our life journeys are different. Do the best you can do with what you have.

Create a balance in your life

Understand that you cannot do everything. Let a few things go. I.e. Work part time and or get help around the home.

It takes a village to raise a child.

Family support

Men are now more involved than they ever were in raising their children. Parenting is a partnership. Share the load.

It is Ok to make mistakes

Don’t punish yourself when you make mistakes. Every parent will make them. The key is to learn from them, your children will forgive you.

Set expectations

Switch off external distractions that make you feel lesser than. Understand your limitations and run with it.


Get yourself into a routine. Children respond very well to routines. You will find that your daily life feels a little less hectic.

Family time in weekends

Set aside the weekends for quality family time. Weather you go away or stay home, devote your attention to your families needs.


Spend a few minutes of each day by yourself. This will help you to re-center and restore some much-needed calm into your life.

Related: The Joys and Challenges of Motherhood

mom playing with baby
Source: Jordan Rowland (Unsplash)

Can I have it all?

The short answer is yes. However, it is important to understand that every body’s idea of having it all is different.

Changes in your life will need to take place.

Start with small changes. Go back to work part time to start with. Ask for job flexibility and see if working from home is an option a few days a week. This way there is less disruption to family life and your need to be at home is met.

Job sharing can work remarkably well for some people. It spreads the load and takes the pressure of an individual’s performance.

Eventually as your children get older and more independent, full time work may be an option. At this time routines and the family unit is more established. You are also more likely to cope with the demands of both a full time job and family life.

Plan your family’s life a little more than you would normally. Cook in bulk and freeze meal size portions so that cooking every night is not necessary. Divide chores amongst the family to help ensure they get done.

Surround yourself with good people who are prepared to help out once in a while.

Friends who are in similar situations are likely to need help once in a while too. Give each other a break and babysit or host a playdate for the afternoon, to help give mom some breathing space.

If your finances enable it, employ a nanny or opear to help out. He or she can help with basic household chores and caring for your child at home.

Lastly, communication is key. Talk to your partner, family and children if they are old enough. Set expectations and your need for work, life balance. A happy mom is a great mom!

Don’t miss: Mother’s Group: Why You Should Join & How To Find One

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