Let’s chat working mom guilt.
Mom guilt something that I dealt with since I became a mother. I have always worked since I had my kids. I stayed home for about 14 weeks with my first son. When I went back to work and had three different part-time jobs during the first year of his life. So I totally get the working mom guilt thing.
I’ve developed a couple of strategies because I believe that kids need us. But I also believe there is something to be learned in learning patience or maybe even a little boredom.
Today’s podcast episode helps all you mamas out there feeling like you can’t ever get anything done because the minute you start to write an email or unload the dishwasher, a tiny human starts crying that they need your attention. The tips I share help the mamas who can problem solve for the fits and tears before they happen…and who can work on a healthy mindset about what your child can learn by playing independently.
Up until now, you may have tried asking them to play quietly or told them you needed some space without actually creating a plan for spending quality time either before or after you work.
My tactics may be different from what you’ve tried in the past because they require a bit of pre-planning…both in your work schedule and in your thinking around how you will confront those guilty feelings that creep up when your kids are crying but you need to get work done.
If you implement these steps you will start to create confidence in your kid’s ability to play independently. AND your ability to work (even if it is just for short periods of time). You’ll feel much less of that mom guilt because you are actually building quality time with your kids into your schedule.
Creating a routine around when you work helps everyone know what to expect when mom needs to work. You’ll hear me say this a lot…kids and adults love structure and routine.
Another fun fact, you benefit by getting work done and spending quality time with your kids. Your kids will benefit by spending quality time with you and learning some independent play skills…what’s not to love. Here are three of my strategies for combatting working mom guilt like a pro.
Start with Quality Time
First, start out your work session with some quality time with your child before your quality time for work. This helps to assuage any mom guilt because you know you’ve spent time with your kids. If you’ve got younger kids, start out by having them pick out to short books or an easy game. You’ll read or play with them. Then say “all right, Mommy needs to work now and when we get done we can do something else.”
Spending quality time before takes the working mom guilt off the plate because, ta-da, you already have spent some time with your kids. Start with short activities that might take like 15 or 20 minutes prior to your work session. This will help to tamper those guilty feelings of taking time to do the work that you need to do.
And that “work” doesn’t need to be sitting at a computer and answering emails. That work might be putting away laundry or I’m cleaning the bathroom. You can totally use the same sort of tactic of starting out with intentional time one-on-one time with the kids. And then move into your work, whatever that looks like.
Give Them a Carrot
My next tip is offering them a carrot…Try saying “if you give me the time I need to get this work done, then we will do something you want to do.” Like we will go on a bike ride. Or we will go to the park. Or we will do something that will take a little bit more time.
This works really well if you have analog clocks in your house. As a professional organizer, I often encouraged my clients to have analog clocks. They really help for kids (and adults) to see the passage of time better. In this instance, you say to them “if you give me till a certain time, we will do something that you want to do.” Then you are able to point to the clock and say “the big hand is on the three. If you give me to work until the big hand is on the 12, we will take a bike ride.
Analog clocks give a visual way to see this passage of time. It helps to know when they’re going to get that thing you are offering them. This tactic can also buy you time for work that you’re doing in your house.
Boredom is Good for Kids
My final tip for tamping down mom guilt while you’re trying to be productive is that boredom is actually good for kids. And I know that that sounds crazy to think about but it actually encourages problem solving and creativity. The idea that you have to be 24/7 available to meet the entertainment needs of your kids just isn’t true. And there are plenty of studies to back this up.
A 2014 study from the University of Michigan observed how kids react to having more options to play with and guided play versus less options and independent play. They found when they gave kids fewer toys and allowed them to play independently, it encouraged problem solving and creativity. Because it forces them to exercise those brain muscles.
And the same is true if you are trying to be productive and get stuff done around your house. Telling kids they need to go figure out for themselves what they want to play with is a great way for them to create those neurological pathways. It allows their brain to be creative and to solve problems. Don’t feel like you have to spoon feed your kids entertainment every single day…Especially if you are trying to be productive.
How will you pre-plan to combat working mom guilt? What are your techniques for creating healthy mindset around working in front of kids? Share below to help a mama who may need your strategy. 😀
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