Working Mom Guilt: When Work Interferes with Life

I’ve been a mom for just over 5 years and for that entire time, I’ve been a working mom. Whether you’re a working mom, SAHM, WAHM or some combination of the above, there are pros and cons to all.

I am incredibly lucky that my current position is incredibly flexible and allows me to work from home when my kids are sick, flex my time when they have school events or doctors appointments, and allows for a healthy work/life balance. As a working mom, there is not a value you can put on these benefits. Being able to flex my time and/or work from home as needed has done wonders for relieving working mom guilt.

Working Mom Guilt When Work Interferes With Life

But, sometimes my flexible job requires me to be flexible. A couple of weeks ago, we had a gap in childcare for my 5 year old. We had been patching childcare together for the summer with a college student. She had to return to school and his younger 2 siblings started at an in-home daycare, but we had a few days to cover for him. I took the opportunity to take an actual day off work to spend with him, just doing something fun.

Lo and behold, my plans for spending a day disconnected blew up in smoke. Without getting into details, something came up that required my attention on my day off. And not my attention remotely– it was something for which I needed to go into the office.

Holy mom guilt.

As I loaded my 5 year old up, my heart hurt knowing that our fun day had now turned into him hanging out in my office with me. In my head, I could see him sitting on the therapist’s couch at age 25, talking about how his mom chose work over him when he was 5.

I tried my best to “spice up” our trip a little. We stopped to grab lunch and I got him a cookie to eat in my office. Once we got there, I bought him a root beer from the soda machine and set him up with Minecraft and Netflix in my office – even though it was not his designated “screen time” for the day. My coworkers are awesome and snuck him candy while I talked to a couple of colleagues about the current “fire”. I let him run the stairs and ride the giant escalator a couple of times before we left.

All of these things seemed so small to me and I was still beating myself up for not being able to give him my full attention as we left. But then, right as we left the building, he grabbed my hand and said “Thanks for bringing me to your work, Mom. I love coming here with you.”

I felt like the Grinch when his heart swelled up so much it barely fit in his chest.

It was a good reminder for me that my time with him (or any of my kids) doesn’t have to be a huge show. Simple gestures and actual time with you mean so much to them.

I also think there is value in him seeing me working, for him to see where mom goes every day and see what I do. I think it is good for him to see me keeping my commitments, being flexible and overcoming obstacles. It’s great for him to meet the people who get 8+ hours a day of my time.

We ended our day with a trip to Target for him to pick out a new toy. The toy was totally more for me than for him (to help ease my guilty conscious), but to also reward him for being an awesome kid. In the end, he helped to ease my mom guilt. I’m seasoned enough to know this is far from the last time I will have to deal with working mom guilt.

But next time, I have this sweet memory to remind myself I am probably being much harder on myself than I should.

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Katie is a mama of two rambunctious, sweet, cuddly and highly energetic boys. Growing up in Mount Vernon, Iowa, she briefly left the area to attend college at the University of Northern Iowa, had a brief stint living in Chicago before settling down in Lisbon with her husband Bryan. Katie has been in the marketing field for over 10 years and is currently a marketing manager for an area health care organization. When she is not balancing life as a working mom, Katie enjoys binging on Netflix/Hulu, learning about all things boy and squeezing in a workout from time to time. Her current addictions include coffee, LaCroix, and cookies.