After 5 years of staying home with my babies (now 5 and 2), I find myself constantly struggling between continuing to stay home and going back to work. I feel selfish that I miss my career so much but I am so afraid I won’t be able to give 100% to both. How do you work, manage a home, make sure your kids know they’re cared for, keep up with housework, etc. It seems like so much! Am I selfish for wanting a career, the family…aka it all?!
Dr. Zoe Answered:
Thank you for asking the question of the century! Desiring a career does not make you a selfish person! I’m not yelling at you, but I want you to hear that loud and clear. You did not die when you had children and got married. You are a full self who is also married and also has a role as a mother. These are crucially important roles, but they are not who you are. You are who you are. Because you have taken on these roles as wife and mother, you do have obligations to be the mother and wife that your beautiful family needs you to be. But you also have an obligation to yourself to be who you need to be as well. Sometimes these two roles coincide and sometimes they diverge. Your job is to figure out how to maximize the coinciding and get over the guilt of the divergence.
And you can’t give 100% to both roles at all times. That is the dream and the lie of the century, so the first thing you need to do is not buy into that. So long, mom guilt! That will make you crazy, sad, frustrated, resentful, overextended… I think you get the picture. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work. It does mean that you have to get your priorities, goals, and family rules super in line before you add your job back to your list of to-dos. You will need to focus on finding work-life balance.
Discuss work-life balance with your spouse.
This means that before you start work, sit down with your spouse and figure out what parts of your life are non-negotiable keepers (for me, it is family dinner at least 5 days a week, being present at kid’s sporting and competition events, etc.), and what parts of your life you can delegate or let go (getting a cleaning service, hiring a nanny, quitting a mom’s club, or stepping down from your role on the PTA). Everyone’s list will look different, but you will save your sanity if you have one.
Recognize that there will be some transitional growing pains for your family if you decide to go back to work. I personally think that the best of both worlds is a part-time job if your financial situation affords it. Since your children are pretty young, this could be a great segue, keeping your feet in the pool of your career so that as they get older, you can easily transition into full-time work without the dreaded “mommy gap” on your resume.
It’s also important to recognize that for women, we live a life of seasons. You have had a season of being a stay-at-home mom. Something in your spirit is whispering that this season in motherhood may be coming to an end for you. Just because you choose to go back to work in the near future doesn’t mean that it has to be forever or that it won’t change or look different for you if the seasons change in your life. Go with it and be willing to switch it up if life demands.
It’s a tough decision that you and a million other moms and working women have to make. We all feel torn at times, but rest in the knowledge that all of your roles are good ones. You were put here on this planet to fulfill them all. Some seasons of your life will focus more on some of your roles than others, but it’s more than okay and totally doable to perform more than one role at a time.
You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace!
Don’t miss these articles on motherhood, mom guilt, and working women:
To the Mom Who Feels Guilty for Loving Her Work
Ask Dr. Zoe – Help! I Can’t Do It All!
To the Mom Who Is Starting to Doubt Herself
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Dear SAHM: I See You and Want You to Know These 8 Things
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