Striking a Balance: Stay-at-Home and Working Moms – Part II
Posted on November 13, 2017
In Part 1 of this blog, we addressed moms who have to work and the emotional challenges of guilt, doubt, and worry that they face. When it comes to time with the kids, the mom who chooses to work—because of a passion or commitment to her profession—deals with the same inner dialogue:
“Am I spending enough time with my child?”
“There aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.”
“I didn’t even see my child today.”
“Will I screw up my child?”
“Am I a good mom?”
Besides these questions, however, there are a few more layers of guilt that the mom who chooses to work faces: “Am I being selfish? Am I a ‘bad’ mom for following my passion at the cost of my children?”
No matter how passionate or committed you are when it comes to your profession, this mind-chatter emerges every time you are confronted with a challenge with your child. Here are a few tips that can help you manage these guilt-loaded eruptions.
- Get comfortable with your decision: If the decision that you have made is firm and unchangeable, own it. By that I mean, see it as it is and embrace it. Here is a helpful analogy. What happens when you’re on a plane and your child is screaming or throwing a tantrum while the rude passenger next to you is getting annoyed and asking why you can’t shut your child up? Of course, at first you try to calm the child, but at some point, you say to yourself, “Oh, well, my child is uncomfortable (from not feeling good or being tired or afraid or whatever). This is how children behave sometimes. Everyone will just have to deal with it.”
The minute you realize that everyone else’s discomfort no longer bothers you, you can drop the “guilt” of disturbing other passengers and embrace the situation as it is. Instead of focusing your energy on everyone else, you can direct it only to your child. This helps you calm down and handle your child better. Similarly, when you embrace your choice to work with passion and dedication in your profession, you discard guilt and use that energy to make better connections with your child during the time that you do spend with them.
Beyond that, like moms who have to work, as I said in Part I of this blog, you should also:
- Make the best use of the time you have with your child; and
- Know when to stop and smell the roses.
What about the mom who consciously and willingly decides to stay at home, the “homemaker” mom? Interestingly enough, she has her own inner dialogue (along with feeling a lot of physical exhaustion):
“I’m sick of having my life revolve around kids and home responsibilities.”
“I’m taken for granted.”
“Since I’m home, I’m expected to pick up everyone’s slack and do things they couldn’t get to.”
“I hate it when my husband says, “But you are home all day, how come you couldn’t get to this or that?”
“I need some real-world stimulation!”
This mom is not complaining about not having enough time with her kids but just the opposite: She wants more time off without the kids and home responsibilities! If you are a homemaker mom, here are a few tips:
- Count your blessings and tap into the power behind “I choose to” versus “I have to.” Since complaint is your constant companion, move inward, and reflect for a moment on how lucky you are to be able to choose to make this decision. On days that you feel bogged down, take a step back and write down the reason for your choice. Perhaps your decision was based on wanting to be home for the kids while they were young and the importance of that. Stepping back to reflect on why you made that choice is a great balm for any temporary emotional outbreaks. If your kids are old enough and going to school, and you’re feeling like “I need to work,” then find a part-time job, get involved in school, or find a volunteering position that touches your heart. This could surely give you the best of both worlds.
- As for others expecting the world of you or taking you for granted, that’s part of being a homemaker mom. You can either complain continuously or roll up your sleeves and in a kind way remind the family that your plate is full with home and child responsibilities, and you can’t get to everything they want when they want it. Let them know that you are happy to be accommodating when you can, and when you can’t, they have to honor and respect your time.
As I mention in my book, The “Perfect” Parent, honor yourself! If you didn’t get to something, don’t drown in guilt. Remind yourself of #1 above.
Motherhood is a gift, not a burden. It is difficult but rewarding. Don’t waste your life on a hamster wheel of complaints; science tells us that neurons that fire together wire together. That means the more we repeat an action, the more we deepen the habit. As we all know, complaining is exhausting mentally, draining physically, and, worst of all, contagious. Don’t put this detrimental habit in the air that your children breathe. If you do, I promise you this will be a habit you will regret passing along – for you, the children and your relationship with them.
Put positive energy into the responsibility that you have taken on, and you will be able to build a strong connection to and relationship with your kids. That is the reason that you chose this stay-at-home role. You certainly don’t want to end up with broken connections and a damaged relationship! What’s the point of that? And know when to stop and smell the roses. A mother who can manage her own emotions can masterfully manage those of her children.
We can always find research that will make us second-guess our decisions and try to tell us what we should and shouldn’t do for our kids. But everything comes down to the life-attitude with which we parent. Whether we have to work, choose to work, or decide to stay at home, that will guide the connection and relationship with our kids.