I feel like I should make myself a t-shirt to wear on every trip that bluntly reads, "Mom Guilt", so that everyone knows what I am feeling. Now imagine if all my fellow moms were to wear that shirt when they were feeling it. I could totally use the "I know what your feeling" remarks from a total stranger every now and then, or a friendly, "Welcome to the Mom Guilt Club" smile. If you are a parent, you get what I'm saying.
I know that my kids are fine. Yes, they miss me and are pretty darn good at drudging up the mom guilt quickly when they want something, but they are also incredibly understanding of my work schedule. I equate the mom guilt feeling to the adrenaline at the start of a race, when you can't sit still and you have to pee. It's instinctual. As soon as I start packing my bags, the mom guilt pang hits. It starts in my head and works its way down into my heart, and it doesn't really go away until I bust through the front door at the end of a trip.
But mom guilt is also a good thing, right? I mean, it stems from love and keeps us grounded. I'm mean, I'm writing this on an airplane while I am knee deep in feeling...So I guess that means I have learned how to deal with it, or at least manage it. For my experience as a traveling, working mom, here is my best effort at 5 Ways to Help Manage Mom Guilt:
- Talk to your kids. Tell your kids about why you work and the importance of contributing to the financial well being of the family. (To be frank, I ask them about all their activities and remind them that they cost money. Mom and dad need to help with all our bills so we can have more fun together.)
- Face Time or Skype. Be a part of bedtime from you computer or phone on the road. Once the kids get used to it, they will talk to you (or ignore you) like you are right there with them. You can even read with your kids.
- Share your schedule ahead of time. I find that my kids don't appreciate when I spring my work trips on them. They want to know if mom is going to be there in the morning or not. Don't avoid it, deal with it.
- Let them react. If you kid wants to be mad at you or sad at you for being gone, sometimes the painful truth is we need to let them and just take it. Sit back and hear them out. Tell them you understand and love them so very much. Even young kids sometimes just need to vent.
- Show them where you are going. I do this especially when I am working with my charities. If I can connect my kids to what I am doing, then it feels like I have a team of support back home, and they feel more involved.
Hope these help! If you have other tips for dealing with mom guilt, share them! We moms need all the coping mechanisms we can get :)