In the past, I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for trying to grow my business and raise my babies at the same time. I felt guilty when I missed a milestone in my young daughters' lives because I was working with a client. I felt guilty when I was traveling for work and my daughters cried through our nightly talks. I felt guilty for not giving them more of my time and attention because my coaching practice demanded those limited resources too.
And I often felt guilty for choosing to work. I judged myself and thought I was a bad mom for needing something more than motherhood to feel fulfilled and challenged in life.
But eventually (ok, years later) I realized that the guilt wasn't serving me, or doing my kids or business any good either. The guilt just kept me feeling stuck and distracted; its near-constant presence made it hard for me to focus fully on my family or fully on my business because I was always preoccupied with whatever I wasn't doing at the time.
So I gave myself permission to let go of the guilt and started focusing on the reasons I shouldn't feel guilty for working instead. Turns out, there were three huge benefits to me being an entrepreneur. I just hadn't acknowledged them until now.
Now I know I will always have a choice: I can feel guilty for being a high-achieving woman who wants to make a difference through my work. Or I can focus on all the good things that happen because I have the drive and courage to be an entrepreneur and a present, engaged mom.
Whether you too are an entrepreneur or whether you work in a more traditional role, you have a choice too. So if you're struggling to let go of the guilt, I encourage you to consider these three reasons you shouldn't feel guilty for working. Then re-read them often because we all know mom guilt is nothing if not persistent.
1. Working is good for your kids.
When I first started working as a life and business coach for creative female entrepreneurs, I didn't think my family could handle the demands of my new job. And I felt especially guilty for taking time away from my daughters, who were just 4 and 1 at the time.
But then my oldest daughter said something that changed everything. She said “Mom, it must be a lot of work to take care of our family and be a coach too. Why do you want to do both jobs?"
Since she was only 4, I gave her the simple answer: I loved being a mom and I loved being a coach so I do both. But when she's older and more mature, I'll tell her that I work because I want her and her sister to see me defining myself outside of motherhood. I work because I want to show them what life looks like when you go after your dreams.
And, most importantly, I'll tell her that I do both jobs because I dream of a future for my daughters where mothers are celebrated, not judged, for being ambitious, creative women. So if my girls decide to become mothers someday, they won't feel like they have to choose between being a great mom and following their passions. Because if I've led by example in my own life, they will know with 100 percent certainty that they can be both.
2. Working is good for your community.
I used to be so wrapped up in my mom guilt that I forgot that the impact of my work stretched far beyond my immediate family. And it absolutely did.
Because here's the honest truth: there are people out there who need what you have to offer. There are people in your community who are waiting to hear your ideas and receive your services and products. There are people whose lives you could change through your work. There are people you haven't even met yet who are waiting to experience your unique gifts – and it would be a disservice to let guilt stop you from sharing them.
So the next time you feel guilty for working, I encourage you to think about the impact your work has the potential to make. Because I guarantee there are people waiting for you and they won't ever get the chance to experience all you have to offer if you let guilt run the show.
3. Working is good for your soul.
When I first admitted I wanted to be more than a mom, I felt a lot of shame that motherhood wasn't the end all, be all for me – especially because I knew how much I had to be grateful for as the mother of two healthy, happy little girls. And yet, I also knew I wanted to own more than the title of mom in my lifetime.
I was also a woman who found my work endlessly fulfilling. It gave me an intellectual outlet and helped me feel creative again. It brought me immense satisfaction to help other women build their businesses. And using my skills and talents to impact other women's lives increased my confidence and sense of self worth.
I've since come to realize that there's no shame in moving past the guilt so I can fuel my soul with work that I love, and work that benefits others too. Because working makes me feel like the very best version of me and it brings me joy that overflows into other areas of my life.
The mom guilt is real and it's persistent – in fact, it still shows up from time to time in my own life. But over the years, I've learned that when you focus on the things that working brings to your life, instead of all that guilt, good things will come your way.