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Working parent guilt and how to manage it

This is a topic that comes up regularly when I am consulting or presenting a workshop to families with young children. Firstly as Elsa from Frozen would say “Let it go”, yes let the guilt go, you are doing the best you can with the time, resources and support you already have and the guilt is just weighing you down. I read somewhere recently that children (and partners for that matter) do not notice the dirty floor or dishes or the pile of laundry that needs doing, they notice the time, love and attention they get from you and the availability to them in your schedule.

The first thing I would recommend is be organised and have a routine. If everyone knows what the expectations are in your household they will get on with what needs to be achieved and help. For example from the age of three children can dress themselves with little assistance, brush their teeth, help pack their bag for kindy and feed themselves breakfast. By the time they get to school they should be able to do all the above plus make their bed, help younger siblings along, prepare their own breakfast and perform the magical task of putting their dishes in the dishwasher and tidy up after themselves.

“A Sunday well spent creates a week of content” that’s right prepare kindy and school bags for the week ahead. As you fold the clean washing put aside the uniforms, kindy outfits or clothes needed during the week for extracurricular actives. Encourage children to put way their own clothes even if it is only their socks and underpants (this also means they know where to find them too) Prepare your own clothes for the week so there is no time wasted on looking for that blouse or shirt.

Bake up a storm and involve the kids. Mince made into bolognaise can become so many different meals for the week ahead. Freeze dinners in portion sizes ready for a quick reheat. Remember if your children are attending childcare that provides hot meals for lunch, do they need another hot meal for dinner, why not offer crackers, cheese yoghurt and sliced up fruit. Or a sandwich with a cold meat filling with salad and grated cheese or leftovers… “Let it go”

Here’s the big one Ask for help…..we do not need to be super mum every day. Hire a cleaner or a nanny, outsource the ironing, get a few meals delivered, there are businesses out there that cook and deliver food that can be stored in the freezer for when you have “one of those days” Make friends with your local chicken shop and buy a chook and salad on the way home.

Sit down and have a family meeting on the weekend and divide and agree with your partner and children who can do what for the week ahead. Make a plan and stick with it. Something I have learnt as a working Mum is to drop my standards and expectations and come to peace with what can and cannot get done. My husband often says to me “I’m not a mind reader” as I am huffing and puffing while doing what feels like everything. I’m still learning to “let it go”

Overscheduling is also another thing I see in many busy and frantic families. The question I ask is does your child need to do tennis, gymnastics, dancing, pony club, soccer and swimming? Why not just choose 1 or 2 at a time, especially if you have more than one child and you are working. This will create more harmony in your home and everyone will be more relaxed and have more time for family time and down time, not to mention the financial gain.

These days it is very common to have both parents in the workforce and most families I work with the division of household tasks and childcare appears to fall onto the Mothers. If we want this to change we need to be honest with our partners and agree to a compromise and a plan what works for your family. And as I said at the beginning “let it go” our children will not remember the clean house and done dishes, but they will remember the time you spent with them and the happy fun times spent together as a family.

5 tips for letting the parent guilt go

  • Get organised and establish a routine

  • Get prepared on the weekend

  • Fill the freezer with meals and snacks

  • Ask for help and share the domestic load

  • Don’t over schedule yourself or your children

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