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1 year ago · · 1 comment

Stressed Out – 3 Steps To Help Mums To Cope With Stress & Guilt

Feeling guilty and stressed out are the biggest factors for many mums returning to work

A 2014 study conducted by Care.com, found that of the 991 working mothers they studied many were highly stressed out and emotional after returning from maternity leave. Here are some of the results they found:

  • 1 in 4 mothers cry at least once per week
  • 1/3 fight with their families at least once per week
  • more than 50% fear they will miss everyday moments
  • over 50% do not feel they spend enough quality time with family
  • most spent an average of 6 hours or less alone with their partner
  • 80% felt stressed about getting everything done

Returning to work is a highly emotional time

Working mother after long day stressed outAs a mother you want the best for your child. When you are pregnant with your first child, you don’t know exactly how you are going to feel about retuning to work. Unfortunately the research clearly shows that many mothers return to work out of financial necessity, rather than desire. This is the case especially when their children are younger. This leads to a lot of the guilt and feeling stressed. Mothers often don’t really want to leave their child to go to work, but have to. This pressure leads to mothers HAVING to find ways to cope with this inner turmoil.

No-one really prepares you for how to cope with feeling stressed out in motherhood once you are retuning to work.

If you are lucky enough to love your job, or you feel like you need an emotional and physical break (very normal by the way), it releases some of the pressure and guilt of leaving your child in someone else’s care. However, as just noted, this is not the norm for many mothers. Many mothers might enjoy working, but would like to either have a more balanced job or to not have to work at all. Modern society and the higher cost of living has made this option of staying at home to care for children untenable.

So how can you make returning to work a more pleasurable experience?

As a working mother, the first thing to recognise is that you have power. Research shows that mothers make some of the best employees, because when they are at work that are focussed on getting the job done. Working mothers don’t have time any more to go out for long lunches. They don’t have time to dawdle in the kitchen chatting to colleagues, to check out the latest news or gossip on the internet when bored etc. Mothers are focussed on doing their best to provide for their families and advance their careers. So, use this leverage.

Step 1. Ask for what you really want

A mother can get done more in 4 days than many staff get through stretching out 5 days. If you would like to spend one day a week home with your child, just ASK and negotiate this. Deal with the facts. If there is still a pushback you can ask for a trial period to see how things go. Often mums are scared to ask for flexible working arrangements for fear of being fired. However, if you negotiate in a professional manner, you will create a more balanced arrangement that reduces guilt and stress for everyone in the family in the long run.

Step 2. Seek help so you can spend more time doing things you love

Most mothers do not ask for help for 3 reasons:

  • fear they will look like a failure, or feel like a failure
  • they believe it is too expensive
  • they feel guilty about asking for help

If a lot of daily stressed out feelings result from returning to work to start the second ‘housework’ job. If you can relate to this it’s important to research options for getting some more help. If you are still finding it too expensive, ask family members to help out if possible. Think about the things that make you feel the most stressed in the home and ask for regular support in these areas. For instance, ask your partner to do the vaccumming once per week, or the bathrooms or windows. However, whatever you ask your partner to help with – DO NOT COMMENT ON THE JOB. Even if you think the job has not been done to your liking, accept it and move on. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s still better than not being done at all.

Step 3. Ask for regular updates

Regardless of who you leave your child with, ask for regular updates and photos throughout the day so you see how your child is coping once you leave. This is particularly important when you have to leave your child in tears. Often, just seeing your child is happy, is enough to reduce your guilt and help you to continue to work with a clearer mindset.

You don’t have to be Supermum

9 out of 10 Australian mums are damaging their health trying to be Supermum. As a mother, you can often feel like YOU have to be the one doing EVERYTHING to look after your child, but this is NOT the case. The key to happiness and reduced guilt in motherhood is to work out what balance works best for you, your partnership and your child/ren. Then, you will feel so much more relaxed and comfortable in the moments when you are engaged with your child and you can be focussed and ‘in the zone’ at work when you need to be aswell. If external pressures, such as housework, are getting you down, seek help (paid or unpaid). If not exercising is getting you down, find a way to incorporate fitness with your child/ren, or ask for help so you can go to the gym, a class, run etc.

A healthy and happy mum is the best gift you can give your child, so don’t struggle alone. Pushing yourself to the edge to be Supermum and constantly feeling stressed out never helps anyone!

lizzie o'halloran stressed out

 

 

 

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2 years ago · · 0 comments

How To Stop Feeling Guilty – Coping With Mother Guilt

How To Stop Feeling Guilty – Working Mother Guilt

As a working mother, one of the most challenging emotions to deal with is guilt. This negative feeling permeates through most of working mother’s lives, leaving mums feeling exhausted, anxious and with loads of self-doubt. However, no-one teaches mothers about how to stop feeling guilty. If guilt is not dealt with early in motherhood, it only gets worse and can significantly impact both personal and professional relationships.

Why is guilt such a big part of motherhood

How To Stop Feeling GuiltyOne of the biggest changes that occurs when you become a mother is this immediate sense of protection and responsibility for your child and his/her development. This instinct is seen in all cultures across the globe. Along with this instinct in human beings, comes judgement as mothers take responsibility for every aspect of their child’s life – from friendships, to academic performance and physical and mental wellbeing.

The problem with this sense of responsibility is that there is no perfect outcome, or a manual to guide mothers towards the perfect way to parent in order the assist her child to achieve the best outcomes.

There is no ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL. So mothers are left to judge themselves based on the opinions of others in their lives, social expectations, media portrayals of the perfect parent and on the ever changing landscape of research. The latter is often contradictory and very confusing and thus leaves many mothers stressed about whether or not their chosen parenting method is the ‘right’ one for their child. These feelings lead to constant guilt over whether or not they are doing the ‘right’ thing for their child. Further, mums are often too embarrassed to even begin to ask how to learn to stop feeling guilty in motherhood, for fear of admitting they are not perfect.

Is it possible to learn how to stop feeling guilty when there are so many conflicting guides on parenting?

Research into parenting is often at polar opposites. For instance, one researcher will find that babies should not be left alone for one moment. They should be carried all the time and co-sleep safely with parents. Another, equally respected researcher will find that babies are best placed in a routine, should be sleeping safely in a cot and this cot should be in a separate room. These researchers and popular opinion lead parents to have particular views on best parenting.

These views often result in criticism of other parents for not adhering to perceived best parenting styles. For instance, stay at home mothers may assume working mothers are not providing the best care for their child, whereas working mothers may believe they are providing the best example for their child. So you can see why it’s so easy for mothers to feel stressed, depressed and full of guilt and self doubt. However, the reason for these feelings is that parents are focussed on the wrong aspect of parenting – the method, rather than the outcome.

Low self-esteem: the culprit and the savour

Research shows that women in general have low self-esteem (low levels of confidence, self worth and self belief). In motherhood, this level of self-esteem is tested even further. Mothers often find it very difficult to trust they are doing the right thing for their child. There is often self-doubt and worry over their chosen parenting styles. There is also a huge amount of self-criticism when things do not go according to plan or expectation (e.g. a child acting out in public, or achieving poor grades).

However, those mothers that have invested in themselves to boost self-esteem and self-confidence find parenting much easier. They research the best parenting methods to suit their lives and their child’s best interests. Mothers with high confidence can block-out the opinions of ‘well-wishers’ and criticisers trying to tell them their way is the best parenting method. These mothers know that one of the biggest mistakes the population in general makes is assuming there is a ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL approach to parenting.

Mothers with a higher self esteem know that children differ significantly due to their temperament, personality type, family customs and cultural and religious norms. Most importantly they know that the best way to measure a parenting style success is in their child’s level of health, happiness, safety and security. These are the key elements of parenting success.

The key to good parenting and thus learning how to stop feeling guilty

The key to good parenting is not whether or not you are using a particular method – it’s in regularly evaluating your method to assess the outcomes. For instance, regardless of whether you are co-sleeping or using controlled crying with your baby, if he/she is safe, secure, healthy and happy that’s all that matters.

If any of these four elements are compromised, then yes it’s time to re-evaluate and modify your parenting style accordingly. Similarly, if you are working full-time and feeling highly stressed on a regular basis and you can see this is having a negative impact on your children, then it’s time to change something. If you’re working full time, but managing your stress well and have a positive and healthy relationship with your children and they are healthy, happy, safe and secure – you do not need to feel guilty and you do not need to change anything! The core element here is NOT working full-time, it’s the outcome for your child and for your personal health too.

Good parenting comes from creating a lifestyle that best suits your needs and those of your family. That’s what really matters. What hold most mums back from trusting they can ‘have it all’ is lack of self-belief and an expectation that they need to live up to other people’s expectations of good parenting. In order to trust that in yourself, it’s imperative that you invest in yourself to build your self-confidence and self esteem.

Begin building your self-esteem in motherhood now

Download these two free books

  1. How to understand your child’s temperament from birth
  2. 5 everyday ways to add serious self-confidence to your life

 

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Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums