I have spent a lot of time feeling guilty for being a working mom. I have felt guilty when I missed an activity because I’m working with a client. I have felt guilty when I’m traveling for work and my daughters cry through our nightly Facetime dates. I have felt guilty for not giving more of my time and attention to my kids because my work demands those limited resources too. And I have felt guilty for choosing to work. I have felt like a bad mom for admitting that I needed to be more than a mom to feel fulfilled in my daily life.
But that was before I realized that the guilt wasn’t serving me or doing my kids or coaching business any good either. So I decided to let go of the guilt by focusing on the three big reasons I shouldn’t feel guilty for working instead.
I now know that I will always have a choice: I can feel guilty for being a high-achieving woman who wants to be more than just a mom or I can set the guilt aside and focus on all the good things that come from my working instead.
You have a choice too. So if you’re struggling to let go of the guilt, I encourage you to consider these three reasons you shouldn’t feel guilty for working, and then make sure you re-read them often because we all know mom-guilt is nothing if not persistent.
Working is good for your kids.
When I first started working as a coach for moms to help them find a better balance between family, business and self-care, I was concerned how my family would handle the demands of me returning to work. (Ironic, right?) And I felt especially guilty about taking time away from my daughters, who were just 4 and 1 at the time.
But then my oldest daughter asked me a question that changed everything. She said “Mom, it must be a lot of work to take care of our family and be a coach. Why do you want to do both jobs?”
Since she was only 4, I gave her the simple answer: I loved being a mom and I loved being a coach. But when she’s older and more mature I’ll tell her that I choose to work because I want her and her sister to see me defining myself outside of motherhood. I work because I want to show them what life looks like when you go after your dreams.
And, most importantly, I’ll tell her that I do both jobs because I dream of a future for my daughters where mothers are celebrated, not judged, for being ambitious, creative women. So if my girls decide to become mothers someday, they won’t feel like they have to choose between being a great mom and a bold woman. Because if I’ve lead by example in my own life, they will know with 100 percent certainty that they can be both.
Working is good for your community.
I used to be so wrapped up in my mom guilt that I forgot that the impact of my work stretched far beyond my immediate family. And it absolutely did.
Because here’s the honest truth: there are people out there who need what you have to offer. There are people in your community and people waiting to hear your ideas and receive your services. There are people whose lives you could change through your work. There are people you haven’t even met yet who are waiting to experience your unique gifts – and it would be a disservice to let guilt stop you from sharing them.
So the next time you feel guilty for working, I encourage you to think about how your work impacts people on the grander scale. Because I guarantee there are people waiting for you and they won’t ever get the chance to experience all you have to offer if you let guilt run the show.
Working is good for your soul.
When I first admitted I wanted to be more than a mom, I felt a lot of shame that motherhood wasn’t the end all, be all for me – especially because I knew how much I had to be grateful for. And yet, I also knew that there was more to me than the part of me that held the title of mom.
I was also a woman who found my work endlessly fulfilling. My work gave me an intellectual outlet and helped me feel creatively stimulated and accomplished. It let me tap into the things that light me up, the things that make me feel like I have a purpose beyond raising great kids. It let me use my talents and increased my sense of self worth.
So I’ve since come to realize that there’s no shame in moving past the guilt so I can fuel my soul with work that I love. Because working makes me feel like the very best version of me and it brings me joy that overflows into other areas of my life too.
The mom guilt? It’s real and it’s persistent. But if you can focus on the things that working brings to your life, instead of all that guilt, good things will come your way. Your kids will benefit, your community will benefit and you will benefit too.
BONUS: Ashley made this little workbook and it’s really helped us mamas out! Download it here.