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DEAR CAREER MUM, DO NOT SUCCUMB TO BEING GUILT TRIPPED

Adeola Adeyemi

Adeola Adeyemi

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Are you a Career-mum?

Do you feel guilty when it seems you don’t have enough time for your family, especially your children? But have you ever taken time to know what “enough’ really meant to you and the time you spend with your kids? Unknowing to us, we are operating on the dictates of what your mother-in-law, best friend, neighbor and the internet is saying “enough time” SHOULD be. If you can be brave enough to listen to yourself, you would most times be surprised at how well you’re doing.

As a mother of a toddler, a 9-5 job holder and also the founder of Talk Mental Health, I know what it feels like to have to juggle all of these different roles. You feel stressed, overwhelmed and yes, you might experience guilt feelings, when you decide to stay away from your family to focus on your career, passion or even to take care of yourself.

Research has shown that allowing ourselves, as women to succumb to the feelings of pressure to be a perfect mother leads to increased maternal guilt, lower self-efficacy beliefs, and higher stress level which do not serve anyone at the end of the day. You may find yourself becoming emotionally distant from your kids, short-tempered towards your spouse or even experiencing burnout as you try to become, what is termed a “maternal gatekeeper”- restricting your partner’s involvement in household and childcare by “guarding” the management of these tasks, doing tasks yourself, setting the standards of how tasks need to be done, and re-doing them to these standards after your partner performed a task.

I have an adorable 3-year old daughter who is so pleasant and loves to play. I used to sneak out of the house so she wouldn’t see me, until one day, I was told she cried, when she didn’t see me and kept asking, “where is mommy?”. I felt so guilty, because I understood what that could mean to her emotional and mental development.

Here’s what I do now – I explain to her. We sit and negotiate. She tells me what she wants and I tell her what I want in return. Whenever I am about to go to work, I usually give about 2-3 minutes to ensure I say my goodbye. (With plenty of hugs, pecks and of course, a list of the things I have to bring home..lol) .

At first, she didn’t like it, she’d say “Mommy, you are going to work again?”. Over time, she’s been able to understand that mummy goes to work, either outside (my 9-5 job) or inside (my workspace at home).

If you are a career mom, these 5 tips will help you refocus your preciously finite energy on what truly matters – raising wholesome kids:

  1. BALANCE IS KEY:Try to set aside time for your children, no gadgets, just you and them. Create a balance between your work and family life. Let them know the difference between being at work and at home. Whenever you are at home, be present and let them know it. They will appreciate you more when you decide to focus on work.
  2. SELF-CARE:Give your self-care a priority. For you to keep giving, you have to be full. So try to get enough sleep, a massage, listen to good music or simply outsource tasks. You need to be whole physically and mentally to be present with your children; else you might experience emotional outburst constantly.
  3. ASK FOR HELP:This is not the time for you to DIY, i.e do it yourself. Learn to delegate. It saves you from stress. Let your partner help around the house in the way that he can, he doesn’t have to do it your way, the most important thing is the task is accomplished. It may be a little difficult if you have perfectionist traits, but with practice, you will get better.
  4. FORGIVE: Forgive yourself for the times you couldn’t be with your children for work-related reasons. Instead of feeling bad or saying that you are a bad mom, it’s better to say; “I took this decision because…..” and then you let it go.
  5. EMPATHY:Turn your guilt to empathy. That you feel bad for not being around as much as your children would love you to be, is a sign that you care about them and you are compassionate. Show them empathy instead, teach them how to be empathetic as well. Ensure that your kids know they’re wanted, loved, and loveable, no matter what – and that they benefit from having you as a role model on how to live a rewarding life.

 

What matters most is doing what works for you, for your children and your family to stay happy, good humored and connected. Remember, “You have children to enrich your life, not enslave your conscience and feel permanently inadequate.

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