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Mummy Guilt

Impassioned Plea To All Working Mums – Can We Please Stop Beating Ourselves Up?

This Monday I dropped J off at his first ever all-day holiday camp experience. He was set to enjoy a week full of adventures surrounded by children from his class at school, and lots more besides. Bouncy castles, sack races in the field and lots more fun and games. There’s no way that I would have been able to have laid on the same level of entertainment. So why did I feel so dreadful after I’d dropped him off? It didn’t help that he started stroking my hand as we had to queue in line to get him registered. It was after all, unfamiliar surroundings and although he acts differently, I have to remember he is still only four.

Working Mum Association founder Nicola J Rowley

Once the paperwork was all taken care of, he went off with one of the members of staff who showed him to his class, where he spent the day with his friends and as far as I know everything passed off fine. He was delighted to see me at the end of the day and it sounded as if he’d had a great time.

So why then when I got home did I sit down to work and feel rotten? I spent much of the day on Monday beating myself up about him being there for the whole week. But the decision for him to be at the holiday camp was to help him gain confidence, have lots of fun and also for me to get my work done. It also means the more I have got through this week, the likelihood is I can have next week off to fully dedicate to him.

As I write this, we are on the final day of the week and I can tell that he’s reached his peak, and keeps asking does he still have to go to that school any more. This morning I told him it’s just one more day and then he gets to be with a combination of both me and his Dad for the next seven days. At the first mention of this, his little face lit up. He was genuinely so excited. So cue yet again me beating myself up about the decision for him to be at camp all week. In fairness, I did try to find an alternative play date solution for this final day of the week, but it just didn’t quite pan out.

I have absolutely no idea how we’re going to cope with the summer holidays at all!

What I do know though is that I need to stop doing this to myself, and I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in doing this either. Have you ever felt like it’s wrong to leave them somewhere? You know they will be fine when they’re settled but you can’t help but feel bad all the same. I’m sure there’s a way to counter it, but it’s made harder when you know that for the time being at least, they just want to be with you as much as possible.

Of course, I should just be super happy that he feels this way and leave the guilt mixed with separation anxiety at the gate. There will be many years ahead when he won’t want either of us around and will just be content with locking himself away in his room.

So my plea to you all is to not beat yourself up on any level. We’re helping them to grow up to be independent, full of confidence and resourceful. It is often the pressure we place on ourselves that means we end up as our own worst enemy.

I know that I’m going to at least try and park this feeling of ‘have I done the right thing’ as much as I possibly can. It doesn’t do me any good and let’s face it, by next week everything will all be forgotten; by both of us.

If you’re doing the juggle with the Easter holidays, it would be great to hear how you’re managing. And how on earth do you manage the six weeks at summer?

Whether you’re holiday juggling or otherwise, this post is written to send lots of love and support your way… x

PS If you haven’t already joined our closed Facebook group please head on over now – some exciting things are being planned for the weeks ahead and I’d love for you not to miss out… x

International Women’s Day – Stress And The Impact On You As a Working Mum

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I’d like to focus on a topic that resonates with working mums on a daily basis; stress and the impact it can have on both you, and those closest to you.

Researchers across the world have found that the stress levels of working mums are much higher compared to those women who dedicate all their time to either parenting or working.

Is it any wonder – with the long hours, lack of sleep and plate juggling that we do on a daily basis?

So what can we do to try and make the situation a bit better for ourselves?

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association on International Womens Day and Stress
Nicola J Rowley, Founder of the Working Mum Association

I know I say this all the time but your health and your well-being are just as important if not more so than those around you because who will help them if you’re not there?

So if everything feels like it’s getting too much, please step away from the situation that’s stressing you out the most. Sometimes just a five minute walk around the block to breathe in some fresh air and try to re-frame how you’re feeling can really help.

Sometimes just sharing a problem can also really help so if you have a fellow mum that you can confide in, then all the better. Of course, feel free to share away in the Working Mum Association Facebook group too – that’s why it’s a Closed group and we’re there to support you.

Please also take a look at what can be done in terms of outsourcing. Is there someone else such as a colleague that can help you? And if the issue that’s causing you the most concern is to do with family life, then please lean on those nearest to you.

Suffering in silence as you try and get everything done is never a good thing.

You will only become more stressed and it will become a vicious circle, from which you will find it harder to escape.

Outsourcing is a great idea especially if you’re feeling like you can’t stay on top of everything in the way that you would like to. Get a cleaner, so you have more time to spend with your family. Use your journey to and from work to maximise the precious little time you have and complete a weekly internet grocery shop. And breathe.

The reason that yoga is so good for us is not just about the stretching, but it is about allowing yourself to breathe deeply and positively and to concentrate only on your breaths. In the time that you practice this, or any form of meditation, it will help you to declutter your thoughts and leave at least some of the stress behind. Please try it, even if it’s just a grabbed 10 minutes every few days.

Honestly, it will help you feel more centred.

And if yoga isn’t your thing, then try some form of exercise. I’m a big fan of running – but even if you go on a long walk – you will find that you feel so much better afterwards.

Time blocking is also a great way to fight any stress you might be feeling. It allows you to assign certain tasks for set times in the day and not to veer from what you need to get done. It means you will also be super productive in your day as you will be able to avoid any distractions – social media notifications anyone?

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association on International Womens Day 2019
Above all else, please look after yourself

The most important thing about stress is to give yourself time and space to not focus on the thing that’s causing all the problems. Easier said than done, but even if you manage it by concentrating on something else that the children are doing, it has to be better than getting upset about the issue at hand.

This time, should hopefully also allow you to look at any given situation with a fresh pair of eyes.

Above all else, please look after yourself. Sometimes as working mums we’re so busy looking after others that our needs fall to the bottom of the pile. Make yourself a priority and hopefully you will soon start to feel more like your old self once more.

And on this International Women’s Day please take time out to recognise the amazing things that you do on a daily basis. You really are incredible… x

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