Guilt is a terrible and real thing.
The truth is that often guilt is false. It’s a liar. It causes us to feel guilty for something that is neither wrong nor our faults. We just feel this sense of “I should be able to make this better or do better or fix this” even when we can’t. It’s a horrible feeling to live with.
And yet other times… other times we feel guilty because we know things aren’t going as they should. Or, put in a more flowery way that suits me as a woman…
“I felt guilty because the way I was living was not matching up with my values.”
See, my husband is a student. He works as well, but it’s part-time and I am the main breadwinner for our family in this season of life. To be honest, I do not love this scenario. Like at all. But it is what it is and everyone’s gotta eat.
However, in my heart, I am a stay-at-home-mom. I could be classed a “working mom” but that isn’t where my heart is. My heart is with my soft-skinned, adorable, excitable, and lovable children. I just like being with them. They are fun. It is exciting with 5 kids aged 5 and under.
And yet… there are bills to pay. Things to write. Projects to finish. Plans to create. There is business to be done.
And, if I’m not careful, it can bleed over into the personal. When this happens I feel guilty. I feel guilty I’m not fully present and guilty that I have to do something other than just be a mom. Then, when I sit down to work I feel guilty. Guilty that I’m having to work instead of be with the kids.
Here is a smattering of things that cause me to feel guilty. Perhaps you relate:
- Guilty when I need to answer an important email or work phone call
- Guilty when I spend long periods away from the computer because I have things that need to be done to earn income that feeds my family.
- Guilty when I send the kids outside to play for an hour and I catch up on work.
- Guilty when I take a morning away to get work done uninterrupted.
- Guilty when I’m trying to finish up something and have to tell the kids to wait.
As you can see it’s all a Big Fat Ball of Guilt. Something had to be done. Life cannot be lived this way and I do not perform well under guilt. I am not my best self nor am I the best mother I can be and that – my friends – comes long before work to me.
How to Not Feel Guilty Working (And Not Feel Guilty Not Working)
So let’s dive in. I’ve come a long way in this guilt area. I still struggle when I have big projects looming (like I do right now) but instead of stewing in the guilt I use it as a Red Flag I should do something different. Think another way. Figure it out.
Call A Spade A Spade
If you have to work to contribute to your family financially then you are not being an Absent Parent nor are you just using work to escape your children. You are working to earn needed money. If you are becoming a super distracted mom because you love working and have found this much needed creative outlet, that is okay, but recognize its truth. If you are putting in the time to build a business in hopes it’ll contribute to your family coffers in years to come, that is fine. Call it as it is.
Instead of feeling these cloudy feelings and carrying on, stop and think. Draw out the truths and facts. Facts console the heart where emotions can torment.
(Note: that’s the whole reason the book He’s Just Not That Into You was so popular, admitting something you know deep down but are denying is good for the soul.)
Around this time I found the She Works His Way membership site. It’s a membership site for Christian business owners and I dove in quickly. I even took Productivity Academy, a course they offer, and it caused me to step outside of my situation and think objectively.
What is not working here?
What is working?
What do I need?
What do I want?
How am I handling this situation badly?
Where is there room for improvement?
How can I make both mothering and working work?
By sitting back and evaluating my current life, I was able to see why I was feeling guilty. And just knowing that made me feel less guilty. For me the source of my guilt was Lack of Time To Work. Because I actually DID have work to do that was BARELY getting done, it was all I thought about.
And, because I thought about it all the time, I felt like a distracted mother. Which made me feel guilty. When I began to change the way I worked, create a different schedule, make it happen in a different way, I began to lose that guilty feeling and began to actually feel alive again.
(Note: She Works His Way has a waitlist so if it’s something that interests you, then you can get put on the list here)
Brainstorm Ways To Work
If your business is something you must do to provide for your family, or you just love it, then there has to be time to devote to it. If you have no time and zero resources to make that happen it’s emotionally better to shelve the idea for a season. If you have work that needs doing, however, you must find a way to do it.
I started having a mother’s helper watch all the kids one morning per week so I could go to my mom’s house (with the baby) and work. I feel like a Drama Queen to say this… but it has nearly changed my life. I get so much done in those few hours, I work quickly, I don’t screw around and surf Facebook. I sit down, knock out nearly a week’s worth of work that line up with my goals, and then I come back home to the kids.
Can you hire someone for one morning?
Can you go to a cafe one evening a week after the kids are in bed?
Can you wake up at 5:00 am a few days a week?
Can you block out a Saturday morning or afternoon while the kids are with your husband?
Get creative. Think of a good idea. Make a system. Stick with it.
The Key to Managing Guilt
The way to get out from under guilt is to live according to our values. Oh, and to master calling false guilt what it is: a liar. So if your values say, “I don’t want to be a mom who works in front of my kids” then find a way to work when they’re not around. If that’s not possible then re-evaluate why you think what you do.
Think about what you’re feeling. Sit with it. Journal it. Try to pull out strands of guilt and frustration and, instead of just saying “I need to get over it” or “I will do better” brainstorm actual solutions.
I did it.
You can do it too.
Virtual high five, friend.
For more mindset and motivation posts, get my bimonthly blasts straight to your inbox.
Want to save for later? Pin this!