Is it implied at every turn that you’re supposed to be devastated to go back to work after maternity leave? Does the Mom guilt come creeping in when your daydreams are filled with visions of your job, your coworkers, even email? If so, read on!
Friends and family may cast a pitying eye or give the look of disapproval when they hear you’re returning to work. Blog posts and forums may be filled to the brim with the tears of moms yearning to stay home for just a few more days. But, maybe there’s a reason you didn’t go to school for early childhood education. Maybe hanging out with a baby all day doesn’t ring your bell. The good news is, the days of the soul-crushing efforts – diapers, wipes, nursery rhymes, naps, repeat – are OVER.
Going back to work for many women is liberating. You’re excited to return to the job you worked so hard for. And, who’s surprised? You look forward to being around like-minded people and having conversations that don’t involve baby talk. It doesn’t mean you love that kiddo any less. At the end of the day, you’ll be back in the embrace of that squishy-faced little one. You can ditch that cellphone to spend some QT looking your baby in the eyes, playing intensely and laughing with legit joy.
Many moms ask themselves if they are somehow harming their children by heading back to work. One study by Kathleen McGinn (1) compared the children of stay-at-home moms to employed moms. The results show that children of working mothers are more likely to become more highly educated. The daughters of employed mothers were on average more likely to perform better in their future careers; They hold more supervisory responsibilities, and earn higher wages. Historically, there have been claims that children of stay-at-home mothers are happier, but this study of 100,000 people found that children have equivalent levels of reported happiness regardless of whether mom works or not.
The Take Home: Don’t let the toxic mom culture bring you down. You’re modeling the working mom ferocity that your baby will one day admire and emulate. You’re doing what you do best – and what makes you feel good – which in turn helps your children to grow and thrive. So go dump that mom guilt and get back to work!
If Mom guilt has led to dropping mood, tearfulness, decreased optimism and/or feeling down about yourself, then consider getting a professional opinion from a psychiatrist.
If you are struggling to find a psychiatrist in your area, contact Postpartum Support International. They can provide help with finding local resources, 1-800-944-4PPD
K McGinn, M Castro, and E Long. “Learning from Mum: Cross-National Evidence Linking Maternal Employment and Adult Children’s Outcomes”. Work, Employment and Society. June 1 2019. 33;3:374-400