Mum Guilt Vs Going To Work
I have touched on mum guilt before in a previous post. However, in this one I am going to tackle the big one, work.
Whether or not you return to work can feel like an impossible choice. For many there is no choice, we have to work in order to provide for our families.
Whatever your personal situation, there can be times where it feels like whatever you decide it’ll be wrong.
So, when are you going back to work?
At some point, probably sooner than you would like, someone will ask you about your plans to return to work. This can be a tough question for some mums, as the thought of returning to work can lead to all sorts of different feelings, some of which may shock you.
I always imagined myself as someone who would want to get back to work as soon as possible. I have never really seen myself as overly maternal.
However, when my son was born I was really taken aback by how strong the instinct to keep him near me was; even though I struggled to bond with him and he terrified me I still felt this primal need to keep him close.
He is much older now, and the instinct is not quite so strong but it is still there. However, so is my need to work and I’m not just talking about financial need. I feel that working is important for my overall well-being. Therefore, obviously there is a lot of conflict.
My need to work vs. my need to keep my son with me. It is an ongoing battle that many working parents face.
Whatever the reason for your return to work, you should not feel guilty about it, regardless of whether you are returning because you want or need to.
Full time, part time, flexible working, job share
If the thought of returning to work itself was bad, enough there is also the dilemma of what your return to work will look like. Will you go back to exactly the same hours you used to? Will you increase or decrease? How about flexible working or a job share?
Alternatively, perhaps you will just go into a completely new job? A job that is more family friendly, less stress, shorter commute.
However, your return to work looks like it really is important that you focus on what is best for everyone that is including what is best for yourself as well.
If your career is important to you then you should try to maintain it. If you are working just to provide for your family then great. If you are working to keep a foot in the door and plan to focus more on yourself when the kids are older than brilliant.
Just ensure you are happy with whatever working arrangement you have. Whatever your working pattern looks like, please do not feel guilty about it, part time/ full time, just offer what you can.
What to do about childcare?
I must admit, childcare is a bit of a bitter subject for me. I have really struggled to find a job and childcare that perfectly matches up. I have however finally got it figured out but it has taken a lot of stress, tears, and juggling.
Childcare options will vary greatly depending on your area but there are options depending on the age of your child.
For babies to preschoolers you have family/ friends, childminders, nursery/ preschool, or nanny.
For the older children when they are not in school there are often breakfast/ after school clubs, childminders, family/ friend, or nanny.
I personally have used a mixture of family, childminder, and preschool. Overall I have been happy with all my choices and my son has been well looked after.
Whatever you decide ensure that you are completely happy with the arrangement. You need to leave your child with someone you completely trust.
Please do not feel guilty about your choice. Whether you have family/ friends look after your child or if you pay for childcare, you are leaving your children in a safe environment with adults who are responsible for their wellbeing.
What about not returning to work?
Sometimes, for whatever reason returning to work just is not feasible, right for your family, or what you want.
Being a stay at home parent is such a huge responsibility and I do feel that the role is largely misunderstood.
Being the person who is responsible for the overall wellbeing of a child is not an easy task, and stay at home parents have that responsibility for the majority of the time. As a stay at home parent raising your children is your job.
To me it’s the equivalent of being at work all the time without any breaks or holidays, I’m not sure I would like my job to follow me around all the time.
I’m not saying working parents have it easy, I’m not saying anyone has it easy. Both working and stay at home parents face difficulties but for different reasons.
If you are happy to stay home then that is wonderful. Just please ensure that you give yourself some time off away from your children and the responsibilities of raising children. Just because you’re at home, it does not mean you are relaxing and doing nothing.
Also, do not feel guilty for staying at home, whatever your reasons for staying at home, you made a decision that works for you and your family.
So, what is the right answer?
There is no right answer to any of this; however, you approach returning to work, staying at home, leaving kids in childcare, leaving kids with family, working full time, working part time, working at home.
Whatever choices you make, make the choice that you are happy with. The choice that works for not just your family but works for yourself.
Your happiness and wellbeing, as well as the happiness and wellbeing of your family is what is most important. What works for one family will not necessarily work for all.
Also, remember things change, what works now may not work in the future. You do not have to decide your whole life now.
It does not matter what decision you make, there are reasons to feel guilty, and there will be people who believe your decision is ‘wrong’, there will always be conflicting opinions and beliefs.
Working is hard, staying home is hard, and parenting is hard. Why make it harder by judging how someone else runs his or her life? Support each other.
Ultimately, it is the happiness and wellbeing of everyone involved which is the most important thing.