12 Mistakes Every Working Mom Will Make (And Why It's OK)
Being a mom is tough, no matter how you slice it. When you're a mother who also happens to be employed outside of the home, that attention and focus that it takes to take care of your kids is split to accommodate your work. It's a constant balancing act, and a monumental struggle, to say the least. The life of a working mother is a chaotic one and, inevitably, sometimes the wheels fall off. There are mistakes every working mom will make, and though they undoubtedly sting, they aren't indicitive of our overall parenting abilities and definitely don't deduct from our strengths.
As a working mother, I feel like I am being pulled in 17 different directions at once. To say that I'm busy would be an incredible understatement, and to say that I always handle it like a boss would be, well, a lie. I'm sleep deprived and stressed and distracted, and so many days I go to bed wondering how another day of just "getting by" has already passed. I don't want the stress of earning a paycheck to seep into my time with my kids, but it does. I don't want the stress of taking care of my two boys to interfere with my focus on work, but it does. I don't want my frustrations with struggling to balance my time between my jobs and my kids to bleed into my relationship with my spouse, but, you guessed it, they do.
I love my job and contributing to my family is not only necessary, it's important to me. Being a working mother is hard but, for the most part, I love it, and I'm well aware that if I didn't work and devoted all of my time to my children, motherhood will still be hard. That's why, even on the days when I wish I wasn't a working mom, I try to remember that making the following 12 mistakes don't make me a bad mom, they make me human.
Missing An Event
I missed my first son's first Easter Egg Hunt at daycare because I had to be at work. Sure, it might not seem like a big deal but, to me, it was. His teacher sent me pictures of him sprinting across her yard in hot pursuit of an egg, and it made me melt. It also broke my heart that I couldn't be there to see it or to hold his hand or to help him. It might have been the first thing that I missed and, unfortunately, it probably won't be the last either.
Getting Home Late
When my first son was born, I went back to work full-time when he was nine weeks old. I worked over an hour away at a busy orthopedic clinic. Usually, I wouldn't be able to leave clinic until after 6:00, and my long drive home would consist of me sitting in heavy traffic. By the time I got home, my son was asleep and my husband was down for the count. It made me feel terrible, even though I was doing all I could do to be there on time. If you're a working mom, you're going to get home late at some point. When you do, try not to beat yourself up over it.
Getting To Work Late
Being a mother isn't an excuse for being late, but I've definitely been late to work because of my kids. I make a valiant effort to be punctual, but kids are unpredictable. You never know when someone is going to lose their shoes or have a mental breakdown, or when an explosive diaper is going to demolish your militant routine. It happens.
Losing Your Temper
Exhaustion is just a part of parenthood. It's something we were all made very aware of as soon as we brought our babies home, but sometimes that exhaustion culminates to a point where parents lose the ability to remain mellow. Essentially, every parent is going to lose their temper. I don't like to yell, but I've definitely done it and I'm sure that I'll do it again. I'm human, and I can only withstand so much before I reach a boiling point and, well, sometimes my kids are standing too close to the pot.
Not Focusing On The Kids Enough
It's a good thing that kids are basically born "parent-proof," because man, do they require a lot of attention. It doesn't take more than two seconds for them to get into something they shouldn't or climb something dangerous or just find themselves in a moment of total mischief.
Sometimes, after a day of working I just want to sit on the couch and close my eyes for five seconds. When I do, however, I always end up regretting it because my kids have most definitely destroyed something as a result. This not only makes my kids feel sad that I'm not paying enough attention to them, but it also makes me sad when I see them feeling neglected.
Not Focusing On Work Enough
There's a lot that goes into raising human beings. From doctors appointments, to preschool, to play dates and beyond, being a mother requires the ability to focus on multiple things at once. Guys, that's just when it comes to kids. Being a mother who also works outside of the home requires us to be able to shift our focus from taking care of our kids, to taking care of our business at work and, well, sometimes we lose focus and fall short.
Not Focusing On Your Partner Enough
By the time the work day is over and supper is cooked and the kids are bathed and in bed, it feels like my husband and I don't get more than just a few minutes alone with each other. By that time, we're so tired that we sometimes fall asleep on the couch without so much as acknowledging each other's presence. This isn't good for me or him or our kids, but sometimes (not all the time, thankfully) it just happens.
Not Focusing On Yourself Enough
Are you seeing a pattern here? If you're a mother who works in addition to taking care of her children (which is a huge job in the first place), you probably feel like you're spread too thin to even think about "me time." Trying to focus on what seems like a thousand different things at once seems like a contradictory goal, but you have to find some time in your life to take care of yourself, too.
Abandoning Schedules And Routines
Kids need routines, and adults need schedules, but when you're constantly on the go, maintaining those routines and schedules can be tricky. I try to give my boys as much structure as I can, but sometimes I fail. Having somewhat of a schedule helps to keep us all relatively sane, so when the balance gets thrown off, our house pretty much looks like a circus.
By no means does my husband expect me to be the sole provider of our family's meals, but when I have said that I'll take care of supper, and then I don't, well, it makes me feel like a jerk. Not that the kids don't love ordering pizza (duh), but it's probably not a great indication of our nutritional well-being when the pizza place down the road knows you by name.
Calling Out Because You Just Can't Even Anymore
I don't like admitting that I've called out of work before because I was just too overwhelmed to deal anymore, but I have. I doubt that I'm alone. Sometimes, trying to find a balance between work and family feels like a an uphill battle. It's hard to prioritize things, when there are too many things that are a top priority. When there are so many things to do, yet such small windows of time to do them all in, it's easy to shut down and do nothing at all. I'm not saying I'm proud, but I'm saying I'm human and, yes, sometimes I shut down.
Being Too Hard On Yourself
Being a mother, regardless of whether or not you're a stay-at-home mom or a work-from-home mom or a working mom, is exhausting. It's also frustrating and incredibly difficult to feel like you're succeeding every day.
Women who work from home or outside of the home are especially vulnerable to feeling guilty, because we feel like we aren't succeeding at anything. We feel like we're not being a good enough mother or employee or partner, like no one is getting 100 percent of our efforts or attention, and like everyone is being short changed because of it. However, we can't allow those feelings to consume us. When we spend even a moment second guessing ourselves, or feeling guilty, or doubting our abilities to be the best of anything, whether that's a mother or an employee or a partner, we're wasting precious time that would be better spent enjoying our families. We all make mistakes, and that's okay, but we can't allow our mistakes to define us.