I’m a Works Outside the Home Mother. For most of my career, I was a rarity here in the south because women chose to stay home and raise their family. Sure, originally, I didn’t have that choice, but now that I’m a bit more stable, I don’t know that I’d choose any other way.
The one thing I’d choose to be different? The Mom Guilt. OH, THE MOM GUILT.
Mom Guilt applies to, obviously, any woman who has children. (I am undecided if there is a Dad Guilt.) If you stay at home, there is the Mom Guilt that you’re depriving your family of a second-income. If you work, the Mom Guilt is there that someone else watches your kid eight or ten hours a day. Mom Guilt is a vicious, awful beast and it often wins me over.
One place I’ve conquered Mom Guilt is in the evenings.
I used to be overwhelmed with Mom Guilt at pick-up from daycare and the rest of the evening. I thought – incorrectly – that I needed to cram the missing full day of family fun into the few hours we’re home together, all centered around a freshly prepared dinner (from scratch, of course). I know you’ll be shocked when I admit that THIS LINE OF THINKING IS UNREALISTIC. It left all of us screaming and cranky and tired and resentful by bedtime. (… and yes, there is Bedtime Mom Guilt, so that’s an entirely different animal.)
So I finally came to a few realizations based on, you know, reality:
- I’m tired after work. I’m sure this doesn’t need explaining.
- So are the kids. At the very least, they’ve had eight hours of STUFF crammed in their face.
- We both need some time to defrag. This was the crucial point. And while the Mom Guilt would go ALL THE WAY TO ELEVEN when I turned on the tv when we walked in, in reality, the kids needed that wind-down time. (We’re talking half an hour, not endless hours vegged out.)
- “Freshly prepared, from scratch” isn’t going to happen. I now rely HEAVILY on slow-cooker meals or one-pot wonders, so that I can have dinner ready (and without homicidal tendencies) by the time my husband, our last straggler, walks in the door.
- It doesn’t have to be Disneyland every night. The kids are just looking for something to do. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be a board game, or a family video game (we can all enjoy Little Big Planet on PS3), or even walking the dogs around the neighborhood. It’s pretty much a standard that we’ll eat dinner, the kids will help clean up, and then we head out for something. Even if it’s just a trip to Target, we do it all together.
Don’t get me wrong: the Mom Guilt is still strong with this one. But I know that me working is an incredibly important facet to my family .. and me. But figuring out what works – and understanding that it may not be the Norman Rockwell standard – has saved the Witching Hours for us. (Which is kind of sad – I can really rock a pointy hat.)
Any Working Moms have any other hints I should try? Have any questions about dealing as a Working Mom? List in the comments below, or email me and I’ll answer in an upcoming post!