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Use the Mummy Guilt to Help Not Hinder You…

The one thing that no one mentioned when you became a Mum for the first time and decided to return to work was the Mummy Guilt.

Each and every one of us will experience this at some time as a Mum. It goes part and parcel with taking on the parenting mantel. But it seems to be far worse for Working Mums, who have to juggle competing demands and priorities around the clock.

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association on the Mummy Guilt

But the thing is you don’t need to see the guilt as a negative thing that has to be overcome. It can actually be quite positive and here’s why.

You can use how you’re feeling to spur you on to achieve more in your day.

Parking the guilt at the office door is a good thing. Remember, you’re setting the best example ever; you’re helping your children to become independent and resourceful.

Instead of feeling like you’re handing them over for someone else to look after, re-frame it so you make the most of the time that you do have together. And that time becomes even more precious.

It means you will feel more motivated to plan fun activities and days out for when you’re not in work.

You will be the fun Mummy when you’re around, not the Mummy who’s knee deep in chores (outsource everything at any given opportunity for your own preservation).

And you will be the best version of yourself because you will also feel more fulfilled and still have your own identity.

There are so many times when the Mummy Guilt will, of course, make you feel like rubbish. But if you re-frame it and carry on, then at least you will have made the best of it.

There is no magic formula or wand to wave as the Mummy Guilt creeps up on the best of us. It’s at its worst when your child is too ill to go to nursery or school but well enough to be up and about and you have to juggle working from home and looking after them at the same time. But it’s nothing that a small dose of television won’t solve and there’s some great educational content available nowadays which can help you get through any key meetings.

There will no doubt be those who will scoff at such an idea – but then they haven’t had a four-year-old walk up to them, shut the lid of their laptop whilst they’re typing and say, “enough Mummy, it’s my time now.”

Or the other spectacular one I once had, which was “Mummy I don’t love you anymore,” because I dared to be working.

I’ll admit it, that one really got to me and I’m not sure how productive I was after that.

The thing to remember with the Mummy Guilt is that it’s ever present.

But until employers start realising that we don’t need to be chained to our desks from the hours of 9am-5pm and if we work from stupid o’clock in the morning, take a breather and then again until stupid o’clock at night so we can make it all work, it is what it is.

It is though forever a juggle. I’ve switched to working on a freelance basis so I’m able to make the school run, and be there as much as possible for J. But with it comes the uncertainty of earning enough from month to month, and all those things that never bothered me when I was in a pre-child phase.

Whichever path you go down, there is always a trade-off. I have to get up crazily early to be able to fit everything in during the day and to stay on top of what I have to do. Yes I’m tired, but I keep going because he needs me to and hopefully somewhere down the line I’m helping you too as a Working Mum. At least hopefully you will realise that you’re not alone in your journey. And you’re certainly not alone in feeling the Mummy Guilt, day in day out.  Just use it to become even stronger, more resilient and even more fabulous than you already are… x

PS If you would like to feel more support, inspiration and motivation as a working mum, come and join us in our Facebook group. Together, we’re stronger

Being Confident As A Working Mum…

Being confident in any given situation is seen as the key to living a successful, happy life. But there are so many times that as a working mum, our confidence can elude us.

If you think back to those first sleepless nights and the moment when it dawned on you, that little person was reliant on you to survive; it was a big thing right?

Being a mum doesn’t come with a guide book. The first time around, let’s face it you wing it, until you get into a routine of how things should be done. Most of that is led by your child, and them letting you know how they feel; usually by screaming in public. Red faces anyone?

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association PR Strategist and Author

At the start you’re surrounded by people wishing you their best, making the effort to visit and generally being hands on, which is very gratefully received. But what happens when the door shuts and they have all disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived?

For me, J had bad colic and used to scream the house down, sometimes for hours. He refused to sleep during the day, and was up every two hours at night. Here I was, a new mum – alone for the most part of a day, trying to entertain him.

So when it came to returning to work, having spent 12 months nurturing and caring for him, I think it’s fair to say my confidence wasn’t where it once was.

For a start I’d had a loss of identity. My priorities had also changed significantly; I was no longer the career-focused girl I once was. I’d forgotten lots of what I’d previously done, and whilst trying to get back up to speed the technology had also changed. When you spend time at home, you also get little in the way of feedback as to what a great job you’re doing. You’re just expected to carry on as that’s what you do.

As a result, you can become more self-critical, feel like your life lacks as much focus, and without meaning to, you take things more personally. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

It didn’t take me long to realise that I could turn all of this around by looking at things in a completely different way, which is exactly what I did.

Being Confident as a Working Mum by Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association
Nicola J Rowley, Founder of the Working Mum Association

For you as a working mum, no matter what stage of your journey you’re on, if you’re feeling that your confidence could do with a boost – here are some things that might help:

  1. Take on any situation with a can-do positive attitude. Remember, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is a good thing its how you will learn more.
  • Ignore that critical voice that can appear. You have so got this. Listen to your gut instinct it will guide you to do what’s best for you.
  • Write down all of the things that you feel confident about. Think about these things daily to remind yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to.
  • Carve out some space for you to do the things you enjoy. Go for a run, take an exercise class or treat yourself to a massage. Whatever will make you feel good about yourself will really help boost your confidence?
  • Put yourself in the position of someone who believes in you. And if they do, then why shouldn’t you?

And above all else smile. Even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing. You may well need to trick yourself into appearing happy initially, but colleagues will respond far better to it than if you’re miserable.

If you’re feeling that you need additional training to get used to new tech on your return to work, ask for it.

And if you’re asked to stand up in front of everyone and give a presentation and you’re dreading it, channel your inner Angelina Jolie. Give your best performance, not as you, but as you wearing a mask – no one need know how you’re really feeling.

Hopefully the above tips will help you as you navigate any tricky moments as a working mum, but if you have any others that have worked for you, please get in touch as we’d love to hear from you.

And if you would like to join our community of working mums, supporting, inspiring and motivating each other – please head on over to our Facebook group here.

Why Working Mums Need to Know They’re Not Alone

Nicola J Rowley the Founder of the Working Mum Association on Loneliness and Working Five years ago J was born and just like most first time mums experience, my world was turned upside down and inside out. It was far more than just the lack of sleep or that initial lack of routine. Something in me literally shifted. I had so much love for this little person that I immersed myself so fully in his well-being and care that I lost my own identity.

And then there were the tears.

At first, everyone assumed it was the so-called ‘baby blues’ but there is never really a one-stop explanation as to why you feel this way. Why something so seemingly innocent can set you off.

I remember the day that I was waiting in line in the Apple store as my iPad had seemingly given up the ghost. J could only have been about five weeks old at the time. I’d taken my number and had sat patiently for 45 minutes waiting to be seen. Thankfully, this was also the longest time that J had ever slept during the day. But as a new mum still finding her way in the world, after an hour I knew he wasn’t going to last much longer. So when I went to the counter to ask about my number, which hadn’t been called – and was told “Oh that was called half an hour ago, and when no one came forward, we moved on. We’re on to seeing other customers now,” I spontaneously dissolved into tears in front of everyone.

That poor sales assistant probably didn’t know what had hit him and I’ll admit it wasn’t my finest moment but the iPad had come to symbolise, in a very short space of time, a way to stay in touch with the outside world. The world with no spit up, no smelly nappies, no endless walks around the block to ensure there might be some rest from the crying of which there was a lot.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course, but the truth was, despite having so much love for this little person, I had never felt so alone.

The mental health charity, Mind says that people usually feel lonely for one of two reasons:

  • They simply don’t see or talk to anyone very often
  • Even though they’re surrounded by people, they don’t feel understood or cared for

During my maternity leave, knowing what I know now – I can identify with both of those.

We’d joined an NCT group, though because I’d wanted to do a specific maternity keep fit class, which was only held on a Tuesday night, I’d had to look at classes outside of the village where we live. I naively thought it wouldn’t matter.

In reality what it means was that each member of the group although not far away was more scattered.

We used to meet regularly on a Wednesday afternoon, the same time when all the local mums to me were going along to the nearby children’s centre and forging those early friendships.

But it didn’t take long before I felt like an outsider.

It didn’t start that way of course, but it became apparent that there was a lack of understanding if I was tearful about something and after the sleep training (which had to happen to safeguard our sanity), myself and J were always the last ones to arrive. Then on any rare nights out, I couldn’t afford to spend as much, and would always be the one bowing out early, mainly because I had work commitments the next day.

I was lucky in that I had a lovely friend who was introduced to me not long after J was born whose daughter was the same age. We used to meet and go for long walks to catch up. But outside of those times, it was very much just myself and J.

And then of course after a year I went back to work.Working Mum Association Supporting Inspiring and Motivating Working Mums Everywhere

Now, this is the point for most mums where they start to feel more isolated. They are no longer able to hang out and have playdates or meet by the swings because they have now swapped mid-week nappy changing for meetings and achieving a decent ROI for their companies, whilst they focus on their KPI’s.

I was talking to a fellow working mum just last week and she mentioned how when she did have a day off, she would go along to the toddler groups and just feel like she was completely by herself. There were the mums who all knew each other, and then there was her, sat on the sidelines with her daughter.

And that’s why I launched the Working Mum Association in July 2017, because I never wanted any other mum to go through what I had done. The massive shift in returning to work, feeling that I was doing a daily juggle whilst missing my son terribly was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.

And that is why no working mum should feel she is alone. The Working Mum Association provides an online community of like-minded women and mums, who do what you do – the daily juggle. The mums who balance work life and family life and miss their children so much, and some days it really sucks.

But there is also so much to be grateful for. The fact that we’re setting an example by showing our children we’re strong, independent women who work hard for a living. And the fact they will grow up knowing their mum did all she could to give them a better future.

Together as a community of working mums, we’re stronger.

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