Working Mom Guilt: 6 Tips for When You Don’t Feel Good Enough

Work-life balance is a challenge for most people, especially for mommas who return to work just a few months after giving birth. Add to that the working mom guilt that often goes along with such a decision!

Guilt among working moms is something that people don’t really pay much attention to, and it’s kinda unfair. Imagine yourself being expected to raise kids like you don’t have work and to work like you don’t have kids. That is the perfect recipe for feeling like you don’t measure up.


What exactly is working mom guilt?

Working mom guilt is that punch-in-the-gut feeling that you get when you have to choose between doing something for your child and doing something for work. It’s also that crappy feeling you experience when you forget something you needed to do for your kid because you were so busy with your job or business.

Also, sometimes, it’s just a general feeling of letting your kid down simply because you’re at work and not with them.

Guilt can attack any momma and at any stage of mommahood. It can happen even when you’re doing everything you know you’re capable of as a mother. And, it has become even more prevalent with the homeschooling and work-from-home scenario that most of us are in right now.

Guilt can attack any momma and at any stage of mommahood.

This feeling may be temporary, or it can last even until your kids are on their way to college. It can manifest as a feeling that you’re forgetting something or as a panic attack that you’re doing everything wrong.

It can also pop up at inopportune times and in the weirdest of places (like in a Zoom meeting while you’re talking to your peers or colleagues, making you lose your train of thought mid-sentence).


RELATED: Postpartum Period & How Life Will Be Like After Pregnancy


Do dads feel parent guilt as well?

Yes! Parent guilt is a thing not just for moms but for dads, too.

Studies support that both parents can suffer from guilt when it comes to going back to work after a baby is born. However, another interesting finding is that moms generally feel this pressure and guilt (specifically work-family guilt and work-interfering-with-family guilt) a whole lot more than dads do.

Studies show that #workingmoms generally feel pressure & work-family guilt a lot more than dads do.CLICK TO TWEET


Why working moms may feel guilty or not good enough

Feeling like you don’t measure up can happen for a lot of different reasons. Mom guilt can surface simply because you had to close your doors to your kids while you’re on a conference call in your home office. It can also happen when you’re having a hard time making them understand their home lessons.

To expound on what I mean, here are some more common reasons why mom guilt and feeling inadequate happen to moms everywhere:


1. Not knowing what to do with your baby

This is a problem a lot of new moms face and can start the moment after the baby is born. Questions like “Did I do that right?” will always surface and bother you as a new mom since you don’t have any experience in what you’re doing. Doubting yourself will also emerge due to comparisons with what people say and what you do. 

This feeling of not doing anything right is even more prevalent with moms who are used to kicking it at work. They may find themselves grasping at straws when it comes to motherhood, leading to serious feelings of inadequacy. 

Some moms who are kicking it at work may find themselves grasping at straws when it comes to motherhood—leading to feelings of inadequacy.CLICK TO TWEET


2. Not getting things back to normal as quickly as you expected

Another reason why some moms tend to feel like they’re out of their element is when things aren’t going back to what they were before their baby was born.

Some moms feel a sense of failure when they don’t lose that postpartum weight as easily as they expected. Other moms may feel like they’re failing simply because their once pristine home now looks like a riot just happened in it.

Losing confidence in one’s self is common among moms who just gave birth and moms who have to go back to work while their kids are still small (or even when they’re not that small anymore). It can also happen when you don’t get back into the groove of things at work and feel like you’re no longer fit for what you used to be really good at doing.


RELATED: Postpartum Recovery & How to Not Sabotage Your Healing


3. Comparing yourself with what you see online and on TV

Ever saw the postpartum photos of Blake Lively just seven weeks after she gave birth? How about those pictures of Drew Barrymore on the red carpet just a month after she delivered her daughter? And those images of Olivia Wilde less than two weeks after her son popped out?

These celebrities and the postpartum images they have online are enough to make a mom question herself about everything. Never mind the fact that a lot of these celebrity moms have armies of people helping them get things back together fast.


4. Comparing yourself with other moms (even your own mom)

Yes, looking at how well your mom handled things while you were growing up and comparing it with whatever mess you’re dealing with right now can also trigger mom guilt. Same with how your siblings, friends, and co-workers who seem to be handling motherhood better can make you feel guilty about your own stint as a mom. 

It’s frustrating. And if you aren’t careful, your working mom guilt could easily lead you down a rabbit hole of self-pity, insecurity, stress, and even postpartum depression.

#Momguilt could easily lead you down a rabbit hole of self-pity, insecurity, stress, and even #postpartumdepression.CLICK TO TWEET


How to navigate and break through working mom guilt

The reasons I mentioned above are just a few of a very long list of possible whys and wherefores of working mom guilt and feelings of inadequacy as a mother.

Whether you’re a hard working mom in a boardroom, or a mom who runs a business from home, mom guilt can happen to you. The question now is not when or where it happens but rather how you can handle it when it does happen.

Coping with working mom guilt can be difficult for some and easy for others. But it can be done. How do you live with this feeling and how do you get rid of it? Here are some ideas worth trying:


1. Take a break from social media

Yes, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can be great entertainment at times, but not when these platforms make you question your momma skills. If you can, steer clear of these social channels after giving birth and whenever you feel the pangs of guilt arising.

If you feel like you’re not doing motherhood the right way because of the posts that you see or read, disconnect and reframe your thoughts.

Social media, and even online news platforms, can cause people to question themselves, no matter what they do or who they are in life. Working moms, single moms, teenagers, and even young kids may find themselves wondering if they’re doing things right when they compare themselves with what they see online.

If you feel like you’re not doing #motherhood the right way because of the posts that you see or read, disconnect and reframe your thoughts.CLICK TO TWEET

To avoid this, you can either stay off social media altogether, limit your screen time, or adopt a mindset that prevents you from comparing yourself to what you see and read.


2. Breathe deeply and meditate

Finding your center and breathing deeply whenever working mom guilt rears its ugly head is also something you can do to refocus your energies elsewhere.

When you feel your mind start to wonder as to whether or not you’re doing well as a mom, close your eyes and take a few long, deep breaths. If you can, find a quiet place where you can re-center yourself and silence your restless mind.

You can also create a mantra that you can chant to yourself in your quiet place.


3. Get organized

When you feel like you’re likely to miss something with everything you’re trying to do, one thing that can help is to get organized. Create reminders for tasks you need to get done on any given day. Create a schedule that you know you can stick to, and then plan your days with it.

If you’re breastfeeding your baby while working from home, keep in mind that your schedule has to be suited for your baby’s nursing and sleeping hours. It could be very, very challenging at the beginning. But trust me, you will get the hang of it!

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4. Don’t think twice about removing toxicity from your life

Anything that may cause you to think that you’re not a good mom, that you’re unworthy and lacking, remove them. Or at least limit your interactions with them.

And yes, this includes people in your circle who might be making you feel bad. If your mom or an aunt makes you feel guilty about working while being a mom, try to minimize your talks with them until you’re sure what they say will simply bounce off you.

It also helps to have more healthy relationships as you navigate your momma journey. Connect with other moms, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.


5. Learn to forgive yourself

Mistakes can be made by anyone, including a working mom. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting a task right the first time or for not being able to pump milk on schedule because of an extended Zoom call. Get over the mistake, correct it if you can, and move on. 

If the mistake cannot be corrected, let it go and forgive yourself for that impasse. You are human, after all, and are prone to mistakes. The key here is to not internalize the error into making you feel like you’ve failed at something, which can lead to mom guilt.


6. Try to compartmentalize different aspects of your life

This is easier said than done but can actually help you instill a semblance of balance in your life. Balancing work and family is a must if you want to steer clear of any working mom guilt that may arise. To do this, you need to set clear boundaries for work and for your life as a mom (and even as a wife and an individual who also needs rest and love).

Compartmentalizing these different aspects of your life and making sure that you respect the boundaries that you set are crucial to your sanity. They don’t guarantee complete freedom from working mom guilt, but they’d help you go through your journey in a much healthier way.

Set clear #boundaries for work and for your life as a #mom (and even as a wife and an individual who also needs rest and love)CLICK TO TWEET


You’ve got this, momma!

At the end of the day, what you do as a working mom is commendable, with all the hits and misses. It shows that you are capable of doing more than what you once thought you could do.

The guilt you may feel only shows that you are still human and that you can feel, so don’t beat yourself up for it. You are a mom who is earning a living, and that is truly commendable. 

Own it, embrace who you are, and revel in the thought that you are more than just a worker and more than just a momyou’re an amazing working mom!



This mom-powering piece is curated by multiple contributors: Lian Delos Reyes, founder & CEO of Milksta, and research & content specialists Rowena Taylor-Rivero and Rose Jane dela Cruz.

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