by Kerry Hart, LLMFT
A working mother may experience conflicting emotions and challenges. Among these challenges may be the constant feeling of finding a balance between your career and innate motherly duties. It’s not uncommon for working mothers to feel they can improve their dual roles; only 10 percent of working moms give themselves a “10” when it comes to rating their parenting behavior. To restore a woman’s confidence in both her parenting and career success it is important to identify and address any feelings of guilt or dissatisfaction. Doing so will help a woman with dual roles properly move forward with positive emotional health.
Understand your Personal Challenges
The confliction a mother may feel as she leaves her home to go to work each day to fulfill her professional goals can be almost enough to keep her from walking out the door, as it can feel like she is walking away from her child. Being a woman with dual roles isn’t easy, but recalling why both working and mothering is important to you is critical. Some women enjoy their work and are choosing to work outside the home to bring fulfillment to their lives professionally. Some women started working as soon as they were legally able, went to school for years to develop themselves professionally and now see their career as a part of who they are. Those titles earned through education and experience do not disappear when a woman becomes a mother. Understanding why you chose to be a working mom and why you feel conflicted about your decision is the first part of dealing with any rising emotions.
Identify the Source
Ask yourself where the guilt or dissatisfaction originates. Do you have a neighbor who homeschools her children and regales you with tales of how her days are so fulfilling by not missing a single moment? Is your mother-in-law disappointed you decided not to stay home as a full-time mother? Do you have an inner voice that makes you question whether you truly enjoy your job outside of the home? Whether it’s someone else springing guilt on you or your inner dissatisfaction with your current life situation, identify the source that is causing stress and consider taking action to remove that particular pressure. Perhaps it is removing friendships that aren’t supportive of your dual roles, switching careers, or maybe it’s identifying the genuine desire to be a full-time mother. Discovering where negativity stems from can help you squash it. You could end up making a significant life change!
When women aren’t properly balancing their home and work lifestyles, feeling like a part-time mom can cause stress. Often, women think about their children at work and vice versa. Only giving half of yourself at both work and home will indeed create stress; try to compartmentalize your day by working only at work, and being with your family when you are at home. Separating these roles is easier said than done, but with commitment and practice, it will become easier. Ensure you share household chores with your partner and your kids, so you are not spending all your time cleaning house when you are home. Make sure to schedule time with your children to fully achieve a work-home balance. Check in when they finish school for the day, commit to family dinner every night or make bedtime routine your specialty. Whatever you need to do to make it work, ensure sure you are getting your needs fulfilled as a parent, as well as your child’s needs from a parent. Once you learn to compartmentalize your day and leave work at the office, you will be able to give all of yourself in both roles.
Kerry Hart, LLMFT is a couple and family therapist in private practice. She is located in both East Lansing and Grand Rapids. www.kerryhartcounseling.com