Five Ways to Work Late Without the Mom-Guilt
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Before my daughter was born I would work, volunteer, or attend community events at least a few times per week. When my time was mine, the extra hours didn’t bother me. My husband juggles a full-time job with two almost full-time passions. Therefore, when I wasn’t home sometimes it seemed like only the dogs missed me. We were both busy and that was OK.
Then came the baby, two years ago, and my time was no longer mine. Now, she is old enough to know when I work late and when I am not home. Oh, the guilt I feel when I miss putting her to bed. I hate hearing about her afternoon from someone else. I’m still the kind of mom who will rush from a meeting at 7:30 p.m. to get home before she goes to sleep instead of hanging around and talking. So, I’ve had to learn a few ways to work late without the guilt, or at least less of it.
Part of my job requires some evenings and weekends, and part of who I am requires that I volunteer some of my time and talents. So, here are five ways I take care of other parts of me without the mom guilt. But, before I jump into them, I must first say that I have a great support system and a flexible job. I know that other moms reading this may not have these privileges so, my tips and tricks may not work for you. However, they may give you some ideas and I definitely want you to share with me in the comments any tricks and tricks you have that I didn’t mention. Let’s help each other out.
1. Plan It Out.
I know, I know. I sell planners but hear me out. This is a legit part of my working late without the guilt. I try to work by the rule that I do not work late two nights in a row. While, that’s not always possible, such as the week of a big health care deadline. When I can’t help it, I move to tip number three.
However, the only way to work by this rule is to have my week planned out in advance. I sit down, on Sunday night, and look at my week and what I have going on. I also, keep a monthly calendar (paper and online) so that as I am adding responsibilities to my schedule I can see, in advance, which nights I would prefer not to be out late.
Know They Are Safe.
Again, I have a great support system. It helps me knowing that my child is safe. Safety is the minimal goal though, isn’t it? It’s the most important, but dare I say, that we also want our children to be educated, entertained, challenged? My advice here is take the time to find a provider, sitter, or family member that you really trust. Grandparents are an easy place to start, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Then clearly communicate with them your expectations (one less thing to stress about).
If you know that they are safe then you can (and should) focus on the work at hand. I remember my daughter’s first day at daycare. I took her a day before the end of my maternity leave, thinking I would need to cry all day and didn’t want to do it in front of my coworkers. So, I dropped her off in the morning and had planned to get my hair done. When I laid her down in her new crib in a brand new room with strangers, she smiled up at me. I really felt like that was God telling me she would be alright.
Since then I have worked to form, what I consider to be, good relationships with her teachers. I buy them presents for Christmas and during Teacher Appreciation Week. I volunteer for the PTO and offer support where I can. I believe in showing appreciation and saying “thank you.” I also need to do a better job of it. Here are some easy ways you can say “thank you” to those who support you.
Make Up For It.
So, my daughter has her own way of punishing me the morning after I work late. There is extra two-year-old attitude while we get dressed and do hair in the morning. It’s her way of letting me know that she noticed that someone else put her to bed.
One of the things I do is I try to make up for some of the time we lost. I can never fix all of it. I don’t put that kind of pressure on myself, yet, I might try to wake her up a little early so we can snuggle, she happens to love to snuggle, and watch Mickey Mouse. We might swing by the park on the way home or I may plan a playdate over the weekend. None of these things she realizes I am doing, I know, but it helps me with my guilt.
My teenager is a little easier. He has a Chick-fil-A obsession, so we will sometimes get up early to swing through the drive through to grab that iced something he likes.
Man do I have trouble with this one. I do not have to do everything that is asked of me, right? I can say “no” and I don’t even have to offer a reason. No is a complete sentence. I have to say “no” to some things so that I can create time to say “yes” to other things.
Didn’t I just say you should say “no” more often? Well, you should. I should. However, create room to say “yes.” For me, my entire existence isn’t surrounded around being a mom. I have career aspirations, volunteer goals, and business dreams. I want to be the best wife to my husband – which sounds odd to say since I want to be the only wife to my husband… Let’s try that again. I want to be the best wife, mom, and daughter that I can be. Part of that means taking care of my goals and dreams.
There are after work events I want to attend because I can learn something or network or because I have something to add to the conversation. I can say “yes” to those events. I do say “yes” to some of those events. I just have to prioritize. I look at my calendar and see how many nights I am working late in that week, I find a sitter, then I see where I can create space to make up for another late night, and then I get to say “yes” to my growth and education.
I recently started reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. I’m learning some lessons to help me differentiate when I should be saying “no” so that I can give my best “yes.” Have you read it?