Women breadwinners do A LOT. They work hard at work and they work hard at home. No matter how the roles and responsibilities are split, there’s always some level of guilt that comes along with being away from your spouse and children for extended hours due to work. But guilt is a useless and wasted emotion because A) You can’t undo the past, B) It is what it is and C) Feeling worse about the situation will never make it better. Although some would say that mommy guilt comes part and parcel with labor and delivery, you don’t have to go into 2013 feeling guilty for being the financial provider of your family.
There are two things that can help you get rid of the mommy guilt:
1) Reframe how you’re looking at your role as breadwinner. How you see your role has everything to do with how you feel in that role. Are you the one doing all the work? That’s a perception? Are you the one missing out on all the key moments? Guess what? That’s a perception. Is this a take-take relationship and you’re the only one giving? That’s a perception. At the end of the day, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Until you are willing to see the blessing of your role and the gift of your spouse’s role, there will always be a back-and-forth game of “What have you done for me lately?” and that spells disaster for a marriage.
2) Redesign how you create quality time with your family. Redesigning your time is easier than you think. Pull out a calendar. What BIG days are coming up for your spouse and children (recitals, soccer games, sports to join, graduations, sporting events, ceremonies, cub scout/girl scout camping trips)? Mark those on your 2013 calendar (or type them into your Google calendar or your smart phone) and, right now, request the amount of time or flex time you need so you can ensure that you’re at those events. If you’ve got at least 2 weeks of vacation time a year, you have time to factor in a recital here and a game there. It might not be the soccer mom schedule but your child will forever remember that you took out the time to attend… and it’s something you’ll never forget… or get back if you miss it. Another way to redesign your life would be to change your work hours. Do four ten hour days so you have one day a week off and designate that one day off as family time. Work when your kids are sleeping if you can. Create a family game night and consistently participate in it EVERY week.
There are so many ways to play a major role in family time without being a stay-at-home-mom that there’s no reason for you to feel as if your job is costing you your family. You can choose differently. If, at the end of the day, you’re in a work situation that truly is a my-job-or-my-family choice and you aren’t willing to lose your family over a job, then you need to plan an exit strategy and work your exit plan. No job is worth the precious moments with your family.