Mom guilt: The biggest challenge for a working mother

Mom guilt: The biggest challenge for a working mother

Many working mothers are still battle with the guilt of leaving their children home as they go to work. It’s time to change the attitude  

Sapna SarfareUpdated: Saturday, January 14, 2023, 09:59 PM IST
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Several working mothers are often plagued by guilt – the guilt of leaving their child at home and the guilt of not being able to strike a work-life balance.

Questions are also raised about working mother’s priorities. The most recent example is of Radhika Gupta, CEO, Edelweiss, taking her baby to work. Some called if CEO’s privilege, some called it guilt among other things on the LinkedIn website. However, she quite calmly responded to the fact that she was balancing the duties of a CEO and a mother, and she didn’t feel guilty about being either!

No human being can ever lead a guilt-free life. There will always be trappings that lead us to make tough choices.

Rajni Daswani, Director – Digital Marketing, SoCheers, and mother of a one-year-old said guilt trips are a part of every role we play. “What matters is how you manage and balance the two significant aspects of your life. I consciously worked towards drawing some definite lines after having a baby. It helped clear up a lot of the ‘working mom guilt’ for me. The key is being fully present where I was – be it work or home,” she says. 

Support system matters

A good support system makes lives easy for mothers in managing their personal and professional lives. Aakanksha Bhargava, CEO of PM

Relocations Pvt Ltd, dismisses the notion of abandoning any part of her life. “I have been blessed with a supportive family and colleagues,” she shares. “While growing up, Samaira understood how to deal with the times when I am engaged with my work. So, I am never guilty of leaving her at home, rather I feel proud to take her along.”

For Latha Iyer, the CHRO at Zaggle and a mother of an 11-year-old son, work-life synergy are how she defines her experience. “When my kid was much younger and my career was growing at a fast pace, it was mentally taxing. Of course, it was impossible to escape guilt. Having a strong support system in place and outsourcing whatever I could helped me strike a fine balance,” Iyer adds.

Being mentally prepared for your new role helps. Just like Heeta Parikh, Founder-CEO, Silver Spun Brand Solutions. The mother of a 15-month-old daughter says she never felt guilty. “Initially, it seems difficult because as a new mom, you don’t know what to expect. But I have never felt guilty about leaving my daughter and going to work. It is because I have always been working. I was mentally prepared to embrace it when I decided to have a baby.”

Parikh goes to work three times a week and five hours a day. "For the rest of the days, I try to work from home. My suggestion to all working moms is to not feel guilty because it’s a conscious decision. If you have been working and have chosen to embrace motherhood, then you need to strike a balance. Try to build an adequate support system at home and work.”

The problem

It has been ingrained in women that they need to be a certain way after getting married or having a child. Gender-restricted roles need to be redefined with changing times.  

Dr Tarun Sehgal, the co-founder of Solh Wellness App, states the obvious. “Society presumes that mothers look after home and kids. Such misconceptions have stayed while moms have been an active part of the economics of any country. But they still struggle to get this cognitive dissonance of achieving perfection at work and home.”

Another trouble is women seeking perfection in their personal and professional life. Most choose complete devotion to homes or career opportunities that let them focus on family and children. “While most of us are serious about our careers, we still are trying to keep up with the older generation’s style of parenting. That triggers guilt or emotional stress,” explains Iyer.

Change your attitude

Be in the moment. Focus. You cannot be present for everything. But when you are, the child must have your total attention. Also, understand that okay is also good.

Kanade, a mother of a six-year-old, points to the saying – it takes a village to raise a child. “As a working mom, I still walk out of the home every morning knowing that I might not be there for her when she needs me. We need to redefine the stereotype that a woman is meant to be a homemaker.”

Daswani wants everyone to look at the positives. “I feel that kids of working parents, especially working mothers, always have an inclusive outlook towards professional, financial and household chores. My suggestion would be to remember why you decided to have a kid and how they enrich your life. So, why let the guilt of not being adequate take away from that enrichment?”

Creating a routine and dividing time between personal and professional commitments should be given importance. Sharing her personal experience, Bhargava says, “Create a routine that keeps your personal and professional lives separate. Make sure you manage your time in the most flexible way possible. Say "NO" to sacrificing quality time. Spend your time with the people who matter, including you.”

Dr Sehgal points to the Buddhist Zen principles of finding balance in life. "Living the present. Being mindful of the present moment brings peace. Investing in good planning and a structured routine helps reduce unexpected stress due to expected demands.”

There is a need for women-friendly and innovative work culture, right from flexible work hours to providing facilities for kids at the workplace and time offs when essential. The time has come that working mothers get the chance to live a guilt-free motherhood and work life. 

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