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Temi Olajide: How to Handle Mum-Guilt as a Working Parent

As parents, we have to continue to look for strategies to integrate family and work to achieve success in both areas of our lives.

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There has never been more working women in the world than we have today. In fact, according to a World Bank research in 2011, more than half (57%) of Nigerian women between the ages of 15 – 64 years old are in some form of employment.

So, the truth is that most women have to work to either support their partners, or to provide for their kids as a single parent.

As a result of this, many mums have no choice but to spend long hours away from their little ones. Most mums are often consumed with guilt, because they have to leave their children early in life to the care of either family, daycare/creche, nannies or after school programmes.

The truth is your reality requires you to work, so the earlier you embrace your decision, the faster you will find ways to deal with your mummy guilt. If you really had a choice, you’d probably take your little one everywhere with you. But the truth is you don’t; the next best thing is to manage the situation in the best possible way.

Now, if you realise that as a woman, you have no choice but to work, there are practical ways to handle the guilt that may plague you as a mum. Below are some examples of mummy guilt, and how they can easily be resolved.

If you realise that you don’t have the time to assist in your child’s academics
This can be a major problem if, due to a lack of supervision, the child isn’t doing well in school. I advise parents to find time to supervise when they get back home. But if you realise that you get back home too late, then it is advisable to get a trusted person to help with this.

However, even if you get a trusted person, you should still look through school work with your child when you get back home. Your child will appreciate the fact that you care about her academics and not just your job, and will most likely begin to excel in their school work.

If you have to hand them to the care of a nanny
It is best that you hire a nanny who is great with children, not just good with chores and cooking. Most mums hire based on cleaning and cooking skills, which is good, but it is important that your nanny can talk and play with your children . Hiring a nanny who loves to take care of kids will give you more peace of mind and comfort as a mum. You can go a step further to install CCTV equipment in your home (if you can afford it), to check them. Also, make impromptu check-ins when no one is expecting you to keep tabs on your child.

If you realise that your child clings to her nanny more than she does to you
Take out time to bond with your little one. You could give the nanny a day off at the weekend, or some hours off, so you can spend quality time with your child. You may be concerned about who will perform the nanny’s duties in her absence, but look at it as a way to bond with your child – you can even bond over house chores.

Whatever you decide, be rest assured that the house will not fall apart in the nanny’s absence. In addition, you’ll be creating unforgettable memories as you spend precious time with your little one.

If you’re not patient with them
Yes, you want the best for your child, but nagging constantly about mistakes they have made will not make things better. You are already hardly at home; you don’t want them happy mum isn’t home often, because all she does when she is is shout and nag all day.

In addition, learn to be patient and forgiving. Set consequences in place for repetitive bad behaviour. Also, teach your child it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as they learn to stop repeating the same mistake.

Help them understand that they are functions of the decisions they make – good or bad. Take time to talk to them and explain why you make certain decisions, rather than staying on the edge many times due to stress.

If you’re calling them names or abusing them
Hurling insults and abusive words make children feel bad and emotionally unbalanced. Learn to define them with what you expect from them, replacing abusive words with more positive words. For example, rather than call your child a naughty or foolish child, you can say I know you’re not a naughty or foolish child, so why did you do that? Also, instead of labelling your child an outright thief or a liar, you can ask, Why did you steal or lie?

It is okay to give age appropriate consequences for outright disobedience. Most importantly, learn to control your temper and emotions. This will make you overcome this guilt in no time.

If you do not spend enough time
This is a major issue that many of us parents struggle with. But I always tell parents to aim for quality time over quantity. Some mums are guilty of being in the same space with their child all day, yet they won’t take out time to play or bond with the child.

My advise: start with 15/30 minutes quality time every day with each child, and increase it as it suits your schedule, rather than no time together at all. This will go a long way in creating a bond with your little one, as kids do not care about how many hours you spend with them, but the quality of undivided time and attention you spent to play, talk or listen to them.

Finally, let’s learn to worry less and focus on what matters while we raise happier children. As parents, we have to continue to look for strategies to integrate family and work to achieve success in both areas of our lives.

Have any tips for dealing with mummy guilt? Please share with us in the comment section below.

Temi Olajide is a certified child sleep consultant & child psychologist , member of International association of child sleep consultants, the Co-founder of association of child sleep consultants of Nigeria and founder of Mummyclinicc,the No1 sleep training platform for children in Nigeria,also a platform where she teaches how mums can overcome daily mummy challenges. www.mummyclinicc.com,@mummyclinicc

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