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
As 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!