Being a working parent isn’t always a choice for many, especially when it comes to their family’s financial situation. Besides juggling work and home, which is hard even when you’re not a parent, many working parents often perceive guilt or shame when they leave their kid at home or have to leave the office early to catch their child’s baseball game.
These days, with the ubiquity of social media, parental judgment and shaming have reached new levels. A study found that 90 percent of moms and 85 percent of dads feel judged by others, and nearly half of all parents feel judged almost all the time. This constant demand to keep up appearances not only undermines a parent’s sense of self but also stifles their career aspirations.
However, guilt, shame, and regret aren’t helpful. They will only waste your time and energy and prevent you from enjoying time at home and work. As a working parent, you can often feel stuck and not know how to overcome the guilt and shame. Here are five effective ways to deal with these negative emotions.
Stop the Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
Using “I should’ve” or “I could’ve” expressions only perpetuate the belief that you’re not doing what you’re supposed to, when in fact, you’re setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. These “supermom” or “superdad” expectations are often formed due to social expectations and set by the so-called “parenting police” who offer unsolicited advice on how to be a “good” parent. Next time, you find yourself using such the “shoulda” or “coulda” expressions, replace it with “I’m doing the best I can.” This takes the judgment out and allows you permission to do what works best for you and your family.
Focus on Quality Time
Be intentional about being fully present to your children whenever you are with them by minimizing distractions and multi-tasking as much as possible. Carve out time to be with your child every day and when you are with them, be 100 percent present. Focus on creating quality experiences such as reading a story before bed, eating dinner together, or
planning a weekend activity like a nature walk or apple picking.
Remind Yourself of The Why
Many parents choose to work not just because of financial considerations but also to have a more balanced life and fulfill their career aspirations. Whenever that wave of guilt hits you, whether you outsource your child’s birthday planning or when you have to miss the bake sale at school, remind yourself of the reasons why you work — money, satisfaction, or just sanity. While you may not be able to be as involved in every aspect of your kid’s activities as you’d like to, be very clear with your kids and family that everyone is better off because you have a rewarding career.
Set Clear Expectations at Work
Take a stance about work-life balance. Communicate clearly to your team about when you will and won’t be available. If you have to leave at a particular time, be assertive and let everyone know you have a commitment for which you need to leave at 5 p.m. Let them know if you will be available to respond to any urgent requests at a particular time or if your phone will be turned off. This way, you’re choosing to be focused on your child when you’re with them, yet being accountable to your colleagues.
Don’t Let Anyone Guilt You
Remember there is no perfect parenting style. You’re doing your best to balance parenthood with a career. Be kind to yourself and don’t let anyone, including the Parenting Police, your spouse, in-laws, social media or even your kids shame, blame or guilt you. Tell them you love them and that you are doing your best to support them, but that you have other commitments, interests, and responsibilities besides them.
Remember, being a working parent is like having two full-time jobs, and most of us are doing the best we can. Recognize that and give yourself credit for all you are doing.