Guilt-tripping on Mommy Lane

by Claire Minnaar


I work all day. I enjoy what I do (most of the time). I like my time away and enjoy it. I miss my son.

My regular questions and thoughts about being a working Mom

Am I a bad mother? Will he hate me for it one day? Will he lack something because I chose to work while he was awake at home with a nanny? Should I want to be with my child 24-7? What is wrong with me that I want to work? What must other Moms who do not work think of me?


I know so many Moms who possibly have the same or similar thoughts that plague me daily.

Mother’s guilt seems to be a phenomenon that just exists and there’s no escaping it – it’s there, it will possibly always be there and there’s no pill or mixture that one can take to make it go away!

I would have thought it would get easier as Ethan got older, but it doesn’t. I used to find myself calculating how many hours in a day I missed out on him. As he gets older and sleeps less in the day, I find myself wondering a little more whether I’m doing the right thing by working.

One of the reasons I started the Momtrepreneur blog was due to this “Mother’s Guilt” disease that so many of us suffer from. Having asked so many Moms to fill in the interviews and share their experiences has been one of the most amazing experiences for me as I now realise I really am NOT alone and other working Moms go through what I go through emotionally and mentally. It doesn’t necessarily make the feelings of guilt disappear, but it does help knowing that you are OK and you are doing OK and there really isn’t anything wrong with you for wanting a career and working.

I battle with this still today. I really love running a business with my husband and I really love being a Mom. I know, for me and my son, I’m doing the very best for him. I’m giving him the best care I can provide for him financially, he is well fed, he’s has everything he needs and he has more love than he could possibly ever imagine.

Suggestions on dealing with Mothers Guilt

  • Work out why you feel guilty – is there something you can possibly change that would make things a little bit easier for you? For me, right now, it’s going to a school tea or fetching him from school, phoning home and having a one-sided conversation with him and hearing his voice, picking him up from school or popping home once in a while. Sometimes, it may be me taking a morning off and taking him out somewhere. Or, going out in the evening on my own with him and just letting him hang with me and enjoy his surroundings.
  • Learn to say “NO” – I’m a yes person. I am actually quite shy until you get to know me and I come out of my so-called shell. Most people have told me they have found me quite intimidating and very closed when they first met me – I know this about myself, but behind that exterior is a softy who will, 98% of the time, say “Yes” to anything you ask of me. I like to please people, make people happier and try and make people’s lives easier where I can. I always wanted to know that I have made a difference or helped people in my lifetime and for me, that’s saying “YES”. But, since having a child, I have improved and I will say “No” far quicker than what I used to – especially for clients. I will not work past 5pm and I no longer work on weekends unless Ethan is asleep – that is me saying “NO” and making sure I’m there for my child. For you, a “NO” may be something else – you will know how that will “look” for you.
  • Accept that you can’t please everyone and you are only human – at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks of you and what you are doing. It’s what YOU think that is the most important.
  • Make the most of your time with your kids when you are around – when you are at home, make sure to give your full attention to your kids. You are entitled to some off time from both kids and work, but stick to your own rules and put the cell phone, TV, etc off. My favourite thing is to take our dogs for a walk and be outdoors with Ethan – he absolutely loves the outdoors and seeing how happy he is outside, enjoying the scenery, holding my hand and sharing his experiences in the best way he can express it is the best thing ever!
  • Be gentle on yourself – Moms can be so critical of themselves. Stay-at-home Moms do not have it easier, believe me! Do your best and know you are doing your best. Accept that you may lose out on some things, but you will gain in other aspects.
  • Give yourself time out – I have battled with this part for 2 years. If I decide I’m going to go for a manicure, for example, I feel guilty. I often have to remind myself that after having a manicure, I feel good and relaxed and even more ready to have some fun, play and be completely focussed on my son opposed to when I have had no time out from work or family and am feeling rather untidy and overwhelmed. (see Time Out Ideas)

For me, I know that I am doing the best thing for my son. I know myself and I know my weaknesses and personality as I have to deal with myself on a daily basis. By me going to work and getting the stimulation that I thrive on there, Ethan gets a Mom who is satisfied in one aspect of her life. He provides satisfaction for me in another aspect of my life.

I have had the opportunity of seeing him crawl for the first time, walk for the first time, laugh for the first time. I have been with him every step of the way – I have never been away from him for more than 1 night. In total, I have only ever left him for 2 nights since he was born. I have been there every time he has been sick, for every tooth, for all the important and special moments. I have missed nappies (good and not so good!), bumps and bruises and possibly a few gorgeous smiles or giggles that make me smile, but I know I’m doing what is great for him. It’s a constant reminder that I have to keep telling myself.

It will probably get easier, but will not go away.

Mother’s Guilt – it’s real, it’s there, but I’m OK with it until another day when I get to remind myself of everything I have written here. The positive side of Mother’s Guilt is that you are MOM and by you having this guilt, you are just being the MOM you were designed to be.

Good luck!

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Cheries Dutton February 10, 2011 - 8:01 am

I had a case of Mothers Guilt just this morning…

This week we had a full time nanny/maid start and so instead of feeding my princess breakfast like i normally i got the nanny to do it so i could work (not cause i want to, but because i have to)…

Anyways, this made me feel guilty as HELL!

claire February 10, 2011 - 8:03 am

This is so true! My big problem is patience I seem to be lacking it lately and my 2 boys are at a vary boisterous stage. We are however going away this weekend so this will surely help. Here is a question for you. Why do we add so much on our forks to try and give them EVERYTHING when they don’t need EVERYTHING. IE they don’t need 1 set of clothing for every day and 10 pairs of shoes and 40 cars… still this is what we aim for?

Main Mamma February 10, 2011 - 8:07 am

@Cheries – With you there! My LB is very clingy at the moment and I feel so guilty leaving him with his nanny and he cries for me – so heartbreaking and not good for the Mom who feels guilty! Hang in there!

@Claire – I think it’s called being a Mom really. We naturally want the best for our kids and I think we are wired to provide everything we possibly can. Don’t worry – you’re totally normal! I don’t have all the answers, but I totally understand what you are feeling (impatience wise and from the EVERYTHING aspect!) 🙂

claire February 10, 2011 - 9:06 am

Lol – tit’s just sometimes nice to hear you’re not bad just normal and human!

MissFunderella February 10, 2011 - 10:09 am

I hear you and know excatly what you’re feeling. I just want to find out something, am I a bad mom by not bathing my son in the evening. You see I have a full time nanny and when I come back from work I do spend sometime with my son but she has to bath him and feed him. Then later on I take over. He still sleep with me same bed and he’s 18 months old. Is that bad? Please be honest mommies out there…I

Main Mamma February 10, 2011 - 10:12 am

@MissFunderella – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that personally. I have a great nanny and she baths my son every day for me. I am then able to focus on him completely and take him for a walk, play with him, etc. I like one-on-one interaction and bath time (unless it’s with me in the bath) doesn’t always feel that way – I much prefer being outside, jumping on the trampoline, walking, at the park, etc – that’s my “mommy” thing. So, no – you are not a bad Mom 🙂

Kristen February 15, 2011 - 8:08 pm

As you said, I think we always will feel guilty…i work from home and i am with my son and i STILL have the guilt of “am i doing enough for my child”…wow…we really are hard on ourselves…

Settling the Working Moms vs Non-Working Moms Dilemma Once and for All | Momtrepreneur April 20, 2011 - 8:10 am

[…] choose to work and I am a good Mom. I make mistakes, I am sometimes wrong and yes, I suffer from Mother’s guilt (just as some SAHM’s who suffer from different types of Mother’s […]


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