Essential reading for every working mum!
So you’re ensconced in your home office, the family are at work/school/nursery, you breathe a contented sigh. However, within minutes of stating work your mind starts drifting to niggles at the back of your head:
“I wish I’d had time to do a proper fancy dress outfit for my son’s Book Day parade instead of giving him some glasses and stick and saying he looked a great Harry Potter.”
“I can’t believe I forgot to buy ham and cheese – I hope no-one sees their jam sandwiches.”
Before long your stomach sinks as you feel like you are about nominate yourself for ‘worst mum of the year’ and it’s apparent you’re not going to get through half the work you’d hoped.
As a working mum it is so easy to regularly find yourself in this negative spiral. When you are so tuned into making sure everyone else’s needs are being met it can be a real struggle to switch your focus to work. This can be especially challenging when you work from home as you don’t have the environmental trigger of leaving home to go to work.
Mastering your focus and tackling your guilt is an essential skill for a work at home mum
Try this 5 step process to tackle guilt:
1. Identify your guilt triggers: Do you feel you spend enough time with your children, do you work too much/not enough, do you compare yourself to others, do you feel guilty at people’s comments, or what you read in magazines. Spend some time making a list.
I feel guilty that/when……..
2. Identify the effect: How do these guilt triggers make you feel and behave? Do you feel frustrated, tired, cross, sad, angry? Do you end up being snappier with everyone in your family, have trouble sleeping, take double the time to get work done?
3. Consider the long-term impact: What is the long-term impact of feeling guilty on you, your family and your work? How is this going to impact on your health and wellbeing? How successful are you going to be if your productivity is consistently being impacted?
Ouch! Now we get to the nitty-gritty. Are you feeling a little uncomfortable at facing the potential consequences of carrying on like this? Don’t worry, discomfort is good and this is your motivation to change. So hang in there.
4. Identify when things go well: There will be times when you are at your desk, time just flies by and you are in the flow and guilty niggles are quashed effortlessly. So what’s happening then? Think about the big picture of what helped this happen.
For me it’s a combination of all sorts of things: Having a good sleep, doing regular (ish) exercise, having dinner planned, being strict about how often to check emails, setting aside time to help my son with his homework, knowing that we are doing something together at the weekend like a big family Sunday roast, or a long walk with the dogs.
I can concentrate on work without guilt when I have……………
If you struggle to complete this sentence then spend the next few days noticing what has happened that made work flow.
5. Make a plan: How can I do more of this? Your list might be quite big so you might find it hard to know where to start. Highlight 2 or 3 things that you think make the biggest difference.
Mine are sleep, exercise and knowing I’ve got some quality time planned with my son. So I concentrate on doing what I can to make sure they happen.
Is being a working mum a far cry from your expectations? How do you juggle all your responsibilities? And what are your ways of coping with the guilt of the working mum?