This year has been a year, hasn’t it? With everything that happened this year from a global pandemic, virtual learning, rising civil unrest, and a presidential election, this year has had its share of all types of everything. I’m hoping the negativity, heartache, and stress of this year is left behind.
As we approach a new year, I’m armed with a positive outlook and a renewed sense of optimism. One thing that helps bring about this positivity and optimistic outlook is my determination to leave one thing behind – mom guilt. With everything that happened this year, one thing that really affected me was dealing with mom guilt. Trying to maintain a work life balance between corporate America and being a mom was beyond tough.
Now I realize mom guilt may not be fully gone in 2021, but I’m ready for it to go. Over the course of this year, I’ve learned a few things to help me move past the mom guilt.
When we first stepped into this quarantine culture, I was optimistic. I figured with me and my husband working from home, we could tag team and coordinate schedules to get our work done, spend time with the kids, and maintain our everyday routine.
In retrospect, I was too optimistic. My husband and I work full-time jobs that require meetings and phone calls during the day. With a 4 and a 6-year-old, they need attention and supervision even when you are on back to back Zoom calls. It’s not so much about keeping the kids occupied, but keeping them occupied and quiet is challenging.
I learned I need to be realistic with the requirements of being a working mom. The more I moved away from this ideal image of being on top of everything 100% of the time, the more the mom guilt went away. So, yes there were times my kids didn’t go to bed at their regular bedtime or they survived off of PBJ and chicken nuggets. The important thing is despite everything this year, we all stayed safe and healthy – or as healthy as we could :).
Once I established realistic expectations, it was easier for me to set boundaries. My boundaries included reserving time on my work calendar for snack and lunchtimes. I also tried to coordinate Zoom calls in the late afternoon when possible. On the other side, my kids have had to learn to respect my job. When possible, I give advance notice to them and my husband on long phone calls or calls where I need to have my camera on. We’ve had countless conversations about being respectful by using inside voices and limiting interruptions, particularly when we are on the phone. Once I got the kids to understand boundaries, my mom guilt started to go away. I felt less guilty about being on multiple calls the more they procured respectful behavior.
Once I had realistic expectations and defined boundaries, one more thing helped me step away from the mom guilt. I accepted my feelings. Rather than trying to put on this front that everything was fine, I became truthful in acknowledging my feelings.
During those tough times when the work life balance was not in balance, I stopped trying to juggle everything. Instead, I took breaks. I stepped away from my laptop or better yet, I took a day off. Or, I would ask my husband to spend time with the kids so I could go for a walk by myself. With these breaks, I was able to quickly recharge in order to do what I needed to do.
Overall, this year I learned the importance of the word grace and how I need to extend grace to others but most importantly to me. I don’t know what the new year will bring, but I do know that I will face whatever the new year brings with less mom guilt!