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When all you feel is guilt: A letter to new working moms

A letter to new mamas who are back at work: When all you feel is guilt.

working mother guilt

Hey there working mama,

Can we sit down and breathe for a sec?


Let's go find two big comfortable chairs in a quiet cafe in the cutest part of town.

Let's set our stuff down and give ourselves permission to press pause on the ever-running to-do lists that runs like a news-ticker in our minds.

Let's laugh with some bittersweet laughter at how good that scenario sounds and how far away it feels from reality.

But really—come with me for a sec. Let's actually pretend that we do get to sit on those chairs and sip coffee that's actually hot and be the women we were before babies.

We need this break more than anyone but are probably the last to get it.

So if you have to come with me while you are feeding a baby or in the bathroom or sitting in your car during a rare errand by yourself, that's ok. I've done that, too.

I want you to know that I know how it feels. I know how it feels to feel guilty as you dry your hair in the morning and the baby watches you from a bouncy seat. I know the sting that pierces your heart when you hand your precious little one to their caretaker and you catch excitement in their eyes. That irrational fear that your baby will think someone else is their mama. Or that this person is doing a better job than you.

Or—maybe the most painful thought for me personally—that they know your baby better than you do.I know the fatigue that sets in when all you feel is guilty: guilty that you like going to work, guilty that you want to go home early to be with your baby. Guilty when you miss a milestone or guilty when you have to stay late to catch up on a project. Guilty when you forget about an upcoming meeting or guilty that you have to leave early because the baby got sick. Guilty that it's been three months back at work and shouldn't this feel normal by now?

I know that sometimes you go cry in a bathroom stall when you are so very overwhelmed—I did the same thing last week. Or the sadness when you overhear your co-workers plan an impromptu happy hour and you can't join them. I know the loneliness that settles into your heart as you learn how to juggle this new normal. I know you question if you are good enough—good enough at work, good enough as a mom, good enough as a spouse, because I've thought and felt and carried all of these emotions too.

Hear me, friend—we may not know each other but I do know this: You were chosen to be your baby's mama.

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All of who you are—your passions, your fears, your job, your living situation, your marital status, your heart, your soul—is being used to create something so, so precious: a childhood.

You are not a bad mama for working.You are not a bad employee because you are a mom.

If you are working a job you hate but you do it because bills don't pay themselves, you are providing the means to create a childhood with a safe place to sleep and good things to eat. And I pray that one day, you'll get to do the job you love the most—be it a different workplace or staying at home.

If you are working a job you love and you do it because you are passionate for your cause, you are providing the means to create a childhood where little girls grow up to achieve their dreams and little boys see their moms and sisters and aunts and future daughters as equals.

And either way, you are working because you are a great mother.

You are not alone in navigating this path, even though it can feel so very lonely sometimes. When the days blur together and the routine becomes mind-numbing, I pray that you will choose to see those days and moments as small pieces of a beautiful picture: the childhood you've been entrusted to create.

You are brave and I admire you.

Thanks for joining me,

Alicia


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In This Article

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Happiest Baby: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

WSEL Bags: Dad-designed diaper bags that think of everything

WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

Codex Beauty's line of sustainable plant-based skin care blends the science of plant biology with biotech innovations, to create clinically proven, state-of-the-art products for all skin types. They're all vegan, EWG and Leaping Bunny verified and created in collaboration with Herbal Scientist Tracy Ryan who uses concepts dating back to the 8th century leveraging plants like sea buckthorn and calendula flower. Not only are we totally crushing on the innovative formulas that are in the packaging but we're in love with the sustainable sugarcane-derived tubes as well.

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