Mum guilt, does it ever go?
What is “Mum guilt”? Is it something that comes with the territory? According to a Marie Claire (https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/what-is-mum-guilt-20595) piece, guilt is something that all mums experience and it comes with the job. This guilt looks at what we feed our children, working, going out and babysitters, the amount of times they spend on technology and more. Even the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has spoken on this very matter recently too in a frank podcast with Giovanna Fletcher https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxtvWcrwFsA
So who am I? Am I someone who has got it all sussed, with the perfect life balance? No I am not and I am not sure that kind of “mum” or “women” exists. I am Nicole and I run my own marketing business and have been self employed for almost 12 years. I did work part time, employed, for around a year whilst being a mum. The guilt was/is there during both these types of careers from when they were babies and to this day. My children are 13 and 9. In case you were wondering how or why I became self-employed, I had become disenchanted with the corporate world but the main reason I set up my own business was to search for the elusive work life balance and also to try and ensure I was there for the children in terms of the school run and so on. Self-employment makes school runs, school holidays and coming in late easier for sure than being employed but it isn’t all a bed of roses. It is a constant juggling act and not always easy to please children and clients and me all at the same time. Perhaps another example of guilt.
My version of this guilt is feeling guilty about what I am doing or not doing child wise. This might mean should I be more present when the children and I are at home eg not on my laptop working as much? Should the laptop be switched off at 3.30pm sharp? Nice idea, but not always practical. Work wise, this guilt, albeit more like working mum guilt, comes in the form of wondering if I should be working 9 to 5pm not finishing at 3pm for the school run? Do I look unprofessional or not bothered if I say meetings have to finish at 3pm? I had a session once with a coach and she asked was I aware that I say the word “should” a lot! Where does that guilt come from? Not from my husband or clients or children or friends and family? Some of it may be from society or social media and from being told that as women we can have it all! But a lot of it is probably in my head and the heads of other mothers. Would you agree? It is a real thing for sure, but maybe I make more of it than I should sometimes.
I am certainly not a perfect mum and I have pretty much attended all of their assemblies, sports days, concerts and so on. The reason I can is because I chose my career route to enable me to do so. On the rare occasion I haven’t made it, my husband has gone or I have asked one of my lovely (and valued) school mum friends to be the children’s pretend parent for the morning or afternoon so they always have someone to smile at, go to see after and so on. It is sometimes assumed that because I work for myself that I can do what I want when I want and it’s the easy option. This certainly isn’t true sorry to shatter the illusion but being a self-employed marketing consultant and working mum isn’t all about watching Loose Women with the laptop on sleep mode with a cuppa on the go! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is, but there are other days when I am going from meeting to meeting, call after call and often eating a bag of crisps or some other healthy/unhealthy snack in the car waiting for the school bell to go and hoping I make it on time. I always do pretty much, but that’s because I am ridiculously organised and plan in advance.
Whereas I feel guilty a lot about my parenting/Mum skills and whether I am doing it right or not, I feel ok mostly and feel that I am doing my best. When the children are dependents, of course they come first and always will so yes there will be days when I can’t come to work as I need to stay at home and I may miss deadlines. Equally, there may be days when I need to call upon my mum or husband to help with the children because I must or (dare I say it) want to go to work.
Does this “Mum guilt” ever go? Probably not I would say and this isn’t to be negative but said more in the case of accepting it and owning it. The guilt will change as the children change eg you won’t worry so much about leaving them in a nursery so you can work when they are at school as school is compulsory so they must go and be left there. But you may feel guilty as they get older and you maybe can’t or don’t want to buy the latest brand of phone or trainers. So it varies, but probably always remains a constant.
The take home is no mother is immune to this guilt, so accept it but don’t dwell on it or overthink it from time to time. Do what you can and be the best version of you that you can whether at home or at work. If doing something for yourself makes you happy and relaxed, this will have a positive knock on effect when you are next back on (or Dad as Dad’s aren’t immune I’m sure) duty. And as someone once told me, “good is good enough!”
Working mum of 2 and female entrepreneur – https://pinpointmarketingconsultancy.co.uk/about-pinpoint-marketing/