When it comes to balancing family and career there is no more harassed adult than a parent. If you do manage to balance all the tasks you set out for yourself daily, you will still have to manage the huge emotional burden we all carry around as parents, with feelings of guilt and stress being foremost.
Most of us have wondered what it would be like to trade in the work suit for fluffy slippers and be a stay-at-home parent. The reality though is that in this economy more and more of us need to work and contribute. While work pressure makes the alternative seems so appealing, it is also a challenge being home all day with little ones. There are various reasons but the biggest of these is the need for a salary, a longing to communicate with other adults and to stay intellectually satisfied.
There are only so many daily routines one can take before feeling cabin fever when stuck at home. A stay-at-home parent has many stress factors too and many parents will tell you that your daydreams of outings and long visits to the beach usually don’t work out as planned.
Children are often more interested in the small things and tend to be realllllly preoccupied with their snack, for example, while you would love for them to be looking at the diving dolphins swimming past. Children can also be manipulative and will especially be able to dictate to a parent who is emotionally prone to feelings of guilt and anxiety. Therefore, one needs to put guilt in its correct place amongst the plethora of emotions wrought on us as parents.
Much of the guilt that we as parents feel can’t be tied to specific actions or issues, it’s just a vague sense that we’re doing everything just a little bit wrong. No matter what the situation, we feel guilty that we aren’t as perfect as the parents portrayed in the media.
According to www.psychcentral, Guilt is an emotional warning sign that lets us know when we’ve done something wrong. It prompts us to re-examine our behavior so that we don’t end up making the same mistake twice. Guilt works best to help us grow and mature when our behavior has been offensive or hurtful to others or ourselves
Unhealthy guilt’s purpose, on the other hand, is only to make us feel badly for little legitimate reason. Be aware that not every emotion, and certainly not every guilty feeling, is a rational one.
www.psychcentral suggests we remember to be skeptical the next time we feel guilty – is it trying to teach us something rational and helpful about our behavior, or is it just an emotional, irrational response?
It’s a simple fact of physics that a working parent isn’t going to witness her offspring’s entire day. It’s okay to be sad about missing out on the precious moments and milestones reached.
If you let yourself be sad for the things you’re giving up by working, it may be easier for you to enjoy the things you’re gaining, for example your salary and some financial freedom.
Copyright Georgia Argyropoulos, 2015
Write down your own motivations. Once you’ve reassured yourself that the salary and quality time you do have is worth the trade off, you may feel better about the emotional impact of guilt for not being a stay at home mom
Time management is essential. Ensure you block off time for focused attention to your children, doing things that are important to you all. Then simply let go of the guilt.
Find ways to reassure yourself that your child is in good hands during your working day. Nanny-cam and mobile connections like viber, whatsapp, live stream etc, make keeping in touch with your child’s caregiver so much easier (and free). Insist on some photos of their daily activities and you should be able to contact them during the day if need be to reassure yourself.
When you do get home and are able to spend quality time with your child, set up at least one (or all) of the following daily routines:
A fun bath-time ritual for your little ones can include things like soap-crayons and soap play-dough. You can find any manner of inexpensive toys for the bath and just go with the flow of things. Let this time of day be flexible and as relaxed as possible so that you enjoy the time as much as they do.
If your child is a bit older, please consider reading to them every night just before bedtime. Reading to your child will be an especially calm activity and may instill a love for reading in your child. Reading remains one of the most essential academic functions in this day and age.
If you have a teen and are scratching around for a novel way to spend quality time together, consider taking turns planning a dinner, setting the table and cooking a meal everyone wants to eat. Or bake! The action of preparing creates a favourable expectation and the reward isn’t just a great meal, it’s also that you spent quality time doing something fun.
If you don’t have time to cook dinner then at least eat the dinner together at a table without the TV on. It may be the only time of day you have to chat with your family where everyone is not busy with a hand-held or other device.
A really important part of managing the ultimate balancing act as a parent is this:
Spend time alone so that you can build up your emotional reserves!!!
One harassed working mom says, “I was reaching breaking point trying to manage my 2 and 3 year old toddlers, a booming business, a demanding husband and my household. I felt like I had
Copyright Georgia Argyropoulos, 2015
reached my limit. So I found a really inexpensive B&B and booked myself in for the whole day. I slept, read a book and did nothing. All day! It was just what I needed to put my life into perspective. It was the first time in probably 6 years that I have spent any time alone. It was ideal. I will do it again and I recommend you do too.”
Going into parenting we have all these ideals and high expectation. You worked so hard emotionally to get to the point where you could leave your child behind and go earn a salary, don’t allow guilt to go unchecked and cause you more stress. Trust yourself and the choices you’ve made for your family.