It is natural to feel guilty about leaving your kids with a caretaker or to feel overwhelmed about keeping your boss, clients and family happy. Take action to stomp out some of that stress and manage your guilt during Stress Awareness Month (April) and all year long.
More often these days, dads are stepping in to take on parenting duties. A recent study by the Families and Work Institute found that fathers spend an hour more a day with their kids than dads did 25 years ago. Dad's participation can come in especially handy when the kids get sick or when you just cannot make that parent-teacher conference. So when it comes to parenting, don't hesitate to share the load of responsibilities with your partner.
Make your schedule flexible
If you're feeling super stressed, ask your employer about rearranging your schedule so that you work four days instead of five, or have every other Friday off. This may incur a pay cut, but it might be worth it to strike that delicate balance between your career and kids. But if a flexible schedule is not feasible, try to pick one evening or weekend day when you can focus solely on your family. That means turn off the laptop, leave your cell at home and hit the playground. In addition to being a stellar mom, this play time away from the job will recharge your batteries, and you can return to work fresh and less stressed.
If you are at work right now, you're probably wishing you were at home. But guess what? You may not be that much more satisfied if you stayed at home full time. According to Dr. Leon Hoffman, director of the Pacella Parent Child Center, many working mothers wish they were home with their children, and while at home, wish they were back at work. Bottom line? Being a mom is a tough job, no matter how you slice it. But if you gain perspective on your situation and are confident about why you're working (or staying at home — whatever the case may be), you can get through even the toughest days with less guilt.
Stress less for the kids
Here is some good news for working moms. Research shows that children who go to daycare are not destined for delinquency. A study measuring the development of more than 6,000 children found that those with moms who work outside the home experience no permanent damage because of the maternal absence. And according to Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, more kids prefer to have their parents be less stressed out and tired than actually with them 24/7.
In a recent issue of The American Psychoanalyst, Galinsky writes,"Does this finding mean that children do not care about time? No. Children care about parents being less stressed because they do care about the time spent together." So instead of worrying about the number of hours you spend at home, focus instead on having fun with your family when you are with them.
More about working moms
Maternity leave vs. FMLA leave
Working moms guide to busy mornings
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