Juggling work and guilt

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2172893/Working-late-nights-holidays–deux-How-time-away-child-leave-insecure-life.html

 

An interesting article – what do you think? It is an issue I constantly feel guilty about. I will always feel guilty about going back to work full time after baby number one but becoming a stay at home mum after baby number two; I feel guilty for growing my business and sometimes being away from my children three evenings a week and at weekends. To enable me to ease my guilt and spend time with my children, my business works around them – I take my children to school and I collect them and I often work late into the night to write and complete my admin after they have gone to bed.

I schedule my classes and meetings around as many school performances and sports days as I can – I need them to know they are loved and valued, that they are a glorious part of my life, not an inconvenience and just something else I need to juggle.

I agree with the sentiment of the article – our children do need us, I believe it is our job to raise them, to look after them and to keep them safe, happy and healthy. But, for me, I want to work – I love my job, I have built a small business I am proud of, I want my children to see the pride I take in my work and how important it is to me – and I also want to contribute to the family financial pot.

We are all different, with varying priorities and needs, and most of us just want to do our best for our families, so we’ll carry on juggling, feeling exhausted and guilty but taking comfort and enjoyment from the cuddles, chats and time with our children. There is nothing better than being silly, than putting work and responsibility to one side to focus on our children, to really listen to them, to play, to read, to snuggle.

About Janine 556 Articles
I am an antenatal teacher, doula, baby massage instructor, postnatal educator, life coach, writer, mum, wife, friend and, sometimes, just me. As an experienced and qualified practitioner, I specialise in pregnancy, birth and early parenting - my aim is to listen, inform, support and reassure when needed. I have worked with parents since 2002 and I set up Birth, Baby & Family in 2011 to provide good information, a different perspective and links to the best products and services for families. I set up the Birth, Baby & Family Centre in 2014 to provide a welcoming, friendly and supportive space for parents across Tyneside.

22 Comments

  1. Why is it always about working mum and not working parents or working dads? Do children suffer more or less if dad works away or long hours? If one parent needs to be around more does it have to be mum?
    I strongly believe children need parents or(it’s a no brained really) but whilst these artist are aimed at women rather than both parents I’ll continue to get on my soapbox

  2. I’m sure they do but I guess it’s an expectation of our society that dad can put in the long hours and be away from their children. When I am at work, my girls are with their dad yet I still feel guilty for being away from the because I see them as my responsibility, my job I guess.

  3. tbh, there’s a part of me that discounts that article purely because it’s published by a paper that is constantly attacking mothers for one thing or another. I’m lucky enough to be able to mostly work from home and schedule it around family life. But I’m aware of how lucky I am to be able to do that and many others can’t and it angers me that articles like this will simply make those mothers feel even more guilty for working to pay the mortgage/bills, etc.

    And, yes, why is it always mothers? You never see this sort of stuff about working dads.

  4. playing devil’s advocate – has society got it wrong though? we are all about work and money and material belongings, are our kids coming second place to that?

  5. playing devil’s advocate – has society got it wrong though? we are all about work and money and material belongings, are our kids coming second place to that?

  6. It’s the expectation of society that I’m questioning – why are mums more important than dads when it comes to parenting. Sure – in the early days, mum is more important, especially if breastfeeding – that’s why decent maternity leave rights are so important. But after that, surely dads are just as important? We need to see far more dads asking for flexible working/part time or family friendly hours, so it’s not all about mums.

    I hear you with regard to material ‘stuff’ vs. time/experiences. But most people I know work to pay mortgages and eat – not to run posh cars or go on foreign holidays or have loads of consumer goods. The BBC article saying a family of four (2+2) needs ~ £38k to live well, was interesting. Interestingly they considered internet access and a mobile phone as standard, which I can see these days….

    Of course, you could question what’s really a necessity – I know plenty of women who spend £75 at a hairdressers every three months for example. I could never justify that, much as I’d like to (it’s the local college for me!).

    I’ve worked in marketing for years and it’s made me extremely cynical – I *hate* the way we are manipulated to feel we ‘deserve’ certain things or that certain things will make us feel better/be better people.

    Oh – it’s interesting indeed!

  7. It’s the expectation of society that I’m questioning – why are mums more important than dads when it comes to parenting. Sure – in the early days, mum is more important, especially if breastfeeding – that’s why decent maternity leave rights are so important. But after that, surely dads are just as important? We need to see far more dads asking for flexible working/part time or family friendly hours, so it’s not all about mums.

    I hear you with regard to material ‘stuff’ vs. time/experiences. But most people I know work to pay mortgages and eat – not to run posh cars or go on foreign holidays or have loads of consumer goods. The BBC article saying a family of four (2+2) needs ~ £38k to live well, was interesting. Interestingly they considered internet access and a mobile phone as standard, which I can see these days….

    Of course, you could question what’s really a necessity – I know plenty of women who spend £75 at a hairdressers every three months for example. I could never justify that, much as I’d like to (it’s the local college for me!).

    I’ve worked in marketing for years and it’s made me extremely cynical – I *hate* the way we are manipulated to feel we ‘deserve’ certain things or that certain things will make us feel better/be better people.

    Oh – it’s interesting indeed!

  8. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think children should be coming second place to work at all and I do think society can very much be about material goods at times, which is sad and has consequences in the end. The sentiment that our children need us is something I agree with, but that doesn’t mean that every mother should never work again.

    Mums who I meet very often don’t want to work long days or be away from their kids but they have no choice right now – not because they want 2 holidays a year or the latest accessory but because the alternative is losing their home. Instead they’re trying to focus on quality time rather than quantity and sometimes I think that’s what I should have done, because I’m not always a great mum. And, anecdotally, my mum was a sahm, and I still suffer from depression and occasional panic attacks.

    I’m not sure I’m articulating all that well, and I could write an essay on the way society views motherhood but I won’t here. If nothing else, the article provokes debate.

  9. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think children should be coming second place to work at all and I do think society can very much be about material goods at times, which is sad and has consequences in the end. The sentiment that our children need us is something I agree with, but that doesn’t mean that every mother should never work again.

    Mums who I meet very often don’t want to work long days or be away from their kids but they have no choice right now – not because they want 2 holidays a year or the latest accessory but because the alternative is losing their home. Instead they’re trying to focus on quality time rather than quantity and sometimes I think that’s what I should have done, because I’m not always a great mum. And, anecdotally, my mum was a sahm, and I still suffer from depression and occasional panic attacks.

    I’m not sure I’m articulating all that well, and I could write an essay on the way society views motherhood but I won’t here. If nothing else, the article provokes debate.

  10. I am definitely a big fan of quality time with children over quantity. Just because a parent stays at home it doesn’t necessarily mean they spend anymore quality time with their child. Some days I only get an hour with my girls because of work and because of their growing social lives but I try to make that hour count by putting the phone and laptop away and focusing on them, listening, asking about their day, trying to pick up on any issues. So far so good and I have children who talk to me, they confide in me and share any problems and I really hope this continues as they grow.

    I am sure some dads wish they could spend more time with their children but I am unsure about the guilt thing – I asked the husband and he looked at me like I was nuts. As far as he is concerned he goes out and earns the majority of our money, he is putting his family first by providing for them, what’s to feel guilty about?

  11. I am definitely a big fan of quality time with children over quantity. Just because a parent stays at home it doesn’t necessarily mean they spend anymore quality time with their child. Some days I only get an hour with my girls because of work and because of their growing social lives but I try to make that hour count by putting the phone and laptop away and focusing on them, listening, asking about their day, trying to pick up on any issues. So far so good and I have children who talk to me, they confide in me and share any problems and I really hope this continues as they grow.

    I am sure some dads wish they could spend more time with their children but I am unsure about the guilt thing – I asked the husband and he looked at me like I was nuts. As far as he is concerned he goes out and earns the majority of our money, he is putting his family first by providing for them, what’s to feel guilty about?

  12. I am definitely a big fan of quality time with children over quantity. Just because a parent stays at home it doesn’t necessarily mean they spend anymore quality time with their child. Some days I only get an hour with my girls because of work and because of their growing social lives but I try to make that hour count by putting the phone and laptop away and focusing on them, listening, asking about their day, trying to pick up on any issues. So far so good and I have children who talk to me, they confide in me and share any problems and I really hope this continues as they grow.

    I am sure some dads wish they could spend more time with their children but I am unsure about the guilt thing – I asked the husband and he looked at me like I was nuts. As far as he is concerned he goes out and earns the majority of our money, he is putting his family first by providing for them, what’s to feel guilty about?

  13. That’s my point about dads exactly! They don’t feel guilt (generally). So why do mums? Partly because we are constantly told how to handle that guilt and how to juggle etc. It’s subtly telling us we should feel guilty…

    For us, the perfect balance would be us both doing a four day week I reckon.

    Michele – I agree with everything you’ve said 🙂

  14. That’s my point about dads exactly! They don’t feel guilt (generally). So why do mums? Partly because we are constantly told how to handle that guilt and how to juggle etc. It’s subtly telling us we should feel guilty…

    For us, the perfect balance would be us both doing a four day week I reckon.

    Michele – I agree with everything you’ve said 🙂

  15. That’s my point about dads exactly! They don’t feel guilt (generally). So why do mums? Partly because we are constantly told how to handle that guilt and how to juggle etc. It’s subtly telling us we should feel guilty…

    For us, the perfect balance would be us both doing a four day week I reckon.

    Michele – I agree with everything you’ve said 🙂

  16. at the beginning of the article about parents being away the key word was for an “unusually” long time – the child was not expecting it, so of course that’s likely to cause problems. I always felt it critical to factor in adult time, not just nights out, but holidays, and weekends away. Lucky enough to arrange ‘swaps’, with close family and grandparents’ help, we had a week away without toddlers several years in a row, many weekends and lots of days. Children were accustomed to and happy to be with others they loved and trusted, so it was not an issue, and we gained important time together to maintain a happy coupledom, and more recently having time on my own or with friends has been a godsend, whether for work or play. We can look after our own needs if there is extended family/friends support, and it’s healthy for children to be happy apart from their parents. Helps them part for school, cub camp, wedding events etc, Happy parents are the key to happy children, so yes it’s getting the balance, and sometimes we get it right, sometimes not. A twelve year gap before child number three, meant my career and business was in a different gear when he arrived and so a fabulous child-minder, who was definitely a co-parent, made it work for us. And two spells of unemployment for his dad also dramatically changed the balance of mum/dad responsibility – a strange thing to recommend! Self employment and free lance work is great if you can sort it out, but juggling never stops, and guilt about not being at the nativity/first day at school is parent’s daily bread.
    Guilt is always there – but like a rocking chair – gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere 🙂 Anna

  17. at the beginning of the article about parents being away the key word was for an “unusually” long time – the child was not expecting it, so of course that’s likely to cause problems. I always felt it critical to factor in adult time, not just nights out, but holidays, and weekends away. Lucky enough to arrange ‘swaps’, with close family and grandparents’ help, we had a week away without toddlers several years in a row, many weekends and lots of days. Children were accustomed to and happy to be with others they loved and trusted, so it was not an issue, and we gained important time together to maintain a happy coupledom, and more recently having time on my own or with friends has been a godsend, whether for work or play. We can look after our own needs if there is extended family/friends support, and it’s healthy for children to be happy apart from their parents. Helps them part for school, cub camp, wedding events etc, Happy parents are the key to happy children, so yes it’s getting the balance, and sometimes we get it right, sometimes not. A twelve year gap before child number three, meant my career and business was in a different gear when he arrived and so a fabulous child-minder, who was definitely a co-parent, made it work for us. And two spells of unemployment for his dad also dramatically changed the balance of mum/dad responsibility – a strange thing to recommend! Self employment and free lance work is great if you can sort it out, but juggling never stops, and guilt about not being at the nativity/first day at school is parent’s daily bread.
    Guilt is always there – but like a rocking chair – gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere 🙂 Anna

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